In the past few years job prospects in practically any area of government have been questionable. Fortunately, just as has been the case with the private sector, accounting as a career field has remained strong. In fact, according to the AICPA, not only are government accounting jobs plentiful, but they are excellent also in terms of wages, benefits, stability and prospects for the future.
Fields of Specialty
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of accounting in government is wide open. Not only that, but prospects are good for a wide variety of specialties among practically any experience level. This means that whether a person has a new degree and little experience or is a seasoned hand, chances are good that not only will they find a job available, but for those who might be checking out other fields in the accounting profession, there are plenty of opportunities. For example, whether a person has a new degree with no or little accounting experience, positions are probably plentiful in different areas of specialization such as in law enforcement, auditing, budgets, and many others. In fact, with the recent introduction of still further legislation (i.e., Obamacare), it is anticipated that the need for accountants in the public sector will expand exponentially.
Agencies Wide Open
Practically all agencies at every level of government use accountants. This includes those who work at the federal, state and local levels, and even those who are responsible for further divisions in responsibility. A good example of this is with public utilities, which are accountable to the public sector, but at the same time are expected to produce a profit. This is in contrast to those that are exclusively in the public sector, which are not profit oriented, but instead serve almost exclusively a reporting function.
Those in the accounting field who choose to work in the public sector can expect certain important differences between that and the private sector. Although there are no significant differences in the accounting methods employed by accountants in the private sector, the accountability of these are much different. An example of these differences is readily apparent when the purposes of public vs. private accounting is examined. In private accounting the purpose is to report profits and losses to owners and/or stockholders of the organization. This is compared to the public sector which is a reporting function to ensure not only general reporting to those in charge of the organization, but also to prove compliance with regulatory functions. In fact, still more accountants are employed on the lower levels of government to ensure that the support functions of regulations are also maintained when top tier reports are issued.
It can probably be assumed at this point that the numbers and types of laws in the country will not diminish anytime soon. As a result, the role for governmental accountants at whatever level or government or experience will not evaporate or even subside in the near future.