When people hear that someone is an accountant, their first thought is that the person does taxes for a living. But accountants actually do a wide scope of jobs and you may be surprised with some of their duties.
One of the first things you need to realize is that any business out there needs an accountant. Individuals need accountants as well, whether it is for tax purposes or for various financial issues in their lives. Accountants may work for police or individuals to find any criminal behavior by examining the books and seeing if anything looks odd or suspicious. Many managers have an accounting background as they need to look at the books to see how the company is doing and to help determine areas that could use some improvement.
With that said, a more traditional accountant works for a business and does their books. For someone who works for a small business, there is a good chance that they are going to do all the accounting for the company. This means entering the day to day transactions that happen as well as reconciling various accounts, putting together the financial documents and analyzing them to see how they look and if any of the numbers look strange. If something looks strange, or off, they look into what the issue is — was something entered wrong or is the number correct? If it is correct, then they will need to talk to various staff to find out what happened.
On the other hand, an accountant that works for a large company may have a very small scope of work. For a company that handles millions or even billions of dollars, they are probably going to have quite a few people on their staff. As a result, each person is going to handle a specific area of the accounting. The company may have one person who handles payroll, another who handles accounts receivable, another person for accounts payable and then someone who handles all the assets and banking. How everything is split up will depend on the company and what they do. If they don’t do a lot of transactions but they are big dollars, there will be less work than a company that has a lot of transactions but smaller dollars.
For some companies, they prefer to outsource some of their accounting work. A common task that they will send out is payroll. By hiring a company that specifically does payroll, they can be assured that everything is being done correctly and according to the most recent laws.