Accountants and financial analysts play important roles within the financial departments of companies. Accountants and financial analysts maintain financial compliance and record and analyze financial transactions. Although there are similarities between the two careers, there are also major differences. If you are interested in a career in business, consider the similarities and differences between accountants and financial analysts to help with making a decision about your future.
Accountant Job Duties
Accountants specialize in many areas within the field. Certified public accountants usually work as auditors and tax professionals, providing advisory services to clients. Managerial accountants usually work in teams that focus on strategic planning and cost control. They record financial information used to create budgets and control product cost. A company's management team uses reports produced by managerial accountants. Forensic accountants work with companies and law professionals to detect illegal activities occurring in accounting departments. Financial accountants record transactions. Information recorded by financial accountants is for external and internal use.
Financial Analyst Job Duties
A financial analyst can work in the investment industry or for private and public companies. Financial analysts working in the investment industry analyze information and construct financial models dealing with mergers and acquisitions, leveraged finance, personal investments and asset management. Analysts working in other industries analyze a company's financial statements and trends to make budgetary and financial recommendations based on their findings.
Most accountants acquire at least a bachelor's degree in accounting. Some companies hire accountants with finance or other business-related degrees. Many employers require public accountants to possess a master's degree in accounting or a related field. Financial analysts usually possess at least a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, economics or statistics. Some employers, especially investment banks, require financial analysts to have a master's degree in business administration.
Licensing and Certification
The most common type of certification for accountants is the certified public accountant designation. Other certifications include the certified internal auditor designation, certified management accountant designation and the certified information systems auditor. Financial analysts can earn a certification as a chartered financial analyst.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for accountants as of 2010 is $61,690. The top 10 percent of workers earn $106,880, and the bottom 10 percent earn $38,940. The median salary for a financial analyst as of 2010 is $74,350. The top 10 percent of workers earn $141,700, and the bottom 10 percent earn $44,490. The BLS reports that accountants living in the District of Columbia, Colorado, Delaware, New York and Massachusetts earn the highest salaries. Financial analysts living in New York, California, Texas, Massachusetts and Illinois earn the highest salaries.