The following responses were contributed by Deborah Anderson of The D.C. Department of Finance and Revenue. The material is intended to provide students with an idea of what working as a certified public accountant might be like, and some steps the student can take to prepare now for a career in that field.

NATURE OF THE WORK

"There are several types of accountants, including tax accountants who deal with tax laws and how they relate to individuals and businesses, management advisory services accountants who advise businesses on improving their operations and there are auditors, who make sure the records a company presents are accurate.

"I am a Certified Public Accountant {CPA} responsible for auditing, and verifying a company's financial records seeing that they are accurately reported to the government and stockholders, as well as to the public. CPA auditors also evaluate companies' financial systems and make recommendations for enhancing them.

"I like the flexibility this work allows. It gives you exposure to so many fields. Since you have to understand the business side of the fields you audit, you learn exactly how that industry works.

"The only drawback is the public's perception {of auditors}. A lot of people misunderstand our role. They look at us as watchdogs."

Starting salaries for CPAs begin at around $20,000 and increase with experience and promotion. Highly paid accountants can make as much as $150,000 a year.

EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS

"CPAs must have a degree in accounting and pass the state CPA exam. You must have a college degree in accounting to be eligible to take the exam. And if you move to another state you must take the exam in that state to be certified to work as a CPA there.

"Bookkeeping experience is good exposure to the field. I would recommend that you take a bookkeeping course in high school. It's not accounting, but it's sort of an entre'e; it gives you the organizational skills. Also take computer courses, and writing courses. The further we advance in our careers, the more writing skills we'll need. Writing skills will definitely help you advance much faster."

MATCHING YOURSELF WITH THE WORK

"As long as you're the type of person committed to professionalism, you should do well in this field. You don't have to be an advanced mathematician to be an accountant. You have to have some facility with numbers, but you won't be doing advanced algebra or calculus equations."