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How Do I Become a Government Accountant?

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  • Written By: L.K. Blackburn
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2016
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Government accountants manage budgets, finances, and taxes for regional government offices, organizations, and departments. One way you can become a government accountant is to graduate from college with a four year degree in accounting and apply for entry level government based accounting positions. It is also possible to become a government accountant by earning a degree in a related field such as business or finance, while undertaking a number of classroom hours of accounting coursework.

Most regional government offices have the need to employ government accountants to track incoming funds, manage accounts, and balance their budgets. Often, tax collection and treasury offices have a specific need for accountants to handle revenue collection and perform auditing duties. Government accountants may audit for tax compliance and to track government spending to help reconcile budgets.

You can begin your career by first attending and graduating from a college or university that offers an accounting degree. If this degree is unavailable, consider a major in another relevant degree area such as finance, economics, or business administration. If you are choosing a degree path other than accounting, you should probably still take as many accounting classes as are offered to you as the government may be looking for relevant accounting coursework on your resume before they can hire you to become a government accountant.

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While in college, certain extracurricular activities can help you become a government accountant such as summer accounting internships with a business or government agency. Many colleges have student based professional organizations in accounting that can help you locate internships and meet and network with those already employed in the field. After graduating from college and completing your undergraduate level accounting coursework, you may improve your chances to become a government accountant by completing a master's degree in accounting. Some government positions that require experience in accounting before you can apply may allow an advanced degree to substitute for years of on the job experience.

Many regional professional organizations offer different forms of accounting licensing and certification that can usually be earned through a combination of test taking and coursework. Accounting certifications may be helpful when you are applying for jobs to become a government accountant, though they are not always required depending upon the position. You can often find government accounting job openings by looking online at regional, state, local, and federal government job boards.

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