Firms that hire accountants often require job applicants to have both academic credentials and prior accounting experience and many people gain experience while working as junior accounting clerks. Some gain accounting work experience while taking in part in college internships that are offered by financial firms. Other individuals work as account clerks or bookkeepers on a voluntary basis for non-profit groups or charitable organizations.
Laws in many areas require that accountants are licensed or certified, but prior to taking accounting examinations many gain some accounting work experience by taking on entry-level jobs at financial firms. People employed in these jobs are responsible for processing payments, issuing invoices and producing expenditure reports. Typically, people who perform such jobs do not have to be licensed and many people familiarize themselves with the accounting arena by taking on these jobs before attending college or studying for the licensing examination.
Financial firms often invite college undergraduates to take part in internship programs that usually occur during breaks between college semesters. In most instances, interns are individuals who are enrolled in finance, accounting or mathematics degree programs. These individuals are able to work alongside licensed accountants and in some instances, the interns are allowed to perform basic clerical tasks. People who work as interns are able to find out about the accounting procedures that are used at a particular firm as well as general accounting techniques that are used by individuals working for many different employers. Some companies prefer to offer permanent accounting jobs to college graduates who gained some accounting work experience while taking part in internship programs.
Competition for internships is often great in which case some students gain accounting work experience by working as treasurers for student organizations. These individuals manage bank accounts, pay invoices and help to prepare budgets for sports teams, college newspapers and students groups. Aside from college based work experience opportunities, many undergraduates gain accounting work experience while working as unpaid volunteers for charitable groups. While these organizations often employ licensed accountants to handle complex accounts and taxation issues, many charities rely on volunteers to maintain ledgers and to handle basic day-to-day bookkeeping duties.
Some community colleges partner with local government agencies to offer training programs for high school graduates and unemployed professionals. In some instances, people involved in these programs are given classroom-based instruction and provided with the opportunity to work for local employers on a temporary basis. These firms, which may include accounting or bookkeeping companies, provide program participants with on-the-job training and individuals who perform well during the training are sometimes offered permanent jobs.