3 Tips in Starting a Finance or Accounting Career in State and Local Government

Bryce is an active speaker, blogger, and tutor. In his free time, he likes to play board games and watch sci-fi movies.

The U.S. government is the largest employer in the world, employing over 2.1 million people. The federal government hires accountants to perform financial activities and compliance work on its behalf. In order to apply, however, you need to meet certain qualifications that are set by the Office of Personnel Management for all federal agencies.

Becoming a federal government accountant takes more than just showing up for work each day—it requires a lot of hard work and dedication. In this article, we’ll give you some valuable advice on how to start an accounting career in the federal government.

Education Requirements

Most government accounting jobs require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree or other related degrees, such as finance or public administration. Some organizations may accept a combination of experience and accounting training in lieu of an accounting degree.

Some cities may also require applicants to complete a 1-2 year regulated Internship program before being considered for a position as a controller. It will be very helpful to refer to this guide to CPA courses.

Accounting and auditing majors should take twenty-four semester hours. It may also be necessary to take a few hours of business law if you wish to take the CPA Uniform test and demonstrate all of your accounting abilities.

Accounting or auditing studies should include a considerable number of credit hours for accountants or CPAs. If they do not need 24 hours, a successful auditing, accounting, or value engineering work, as well as accounting knowledge at the accounting level, might be an adequate substitute.


Accountants can become CPAs after passing the standard CPA testing administered by the U.S. Institute of CPAs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Voluntary certification may also be used by government accountants to distinguish themselves from their peers. The Institute of Internal Auditors grants government auditing professional certifications that demonstrate proficiency in government audit standards and processes through an exam.

What sort of roles do government accountants fill?

Public-sector accountants do similar responsibilities to those performed by private-sector accountable persons, corporations, and nonprofits in collecting, analyzing, and reporting financial data.

Government accountants work for the federal, state, and local governments, overseeing budgets, expenditures, and income for organizations such as the military, law enforcement, and public schools.

Accounting professions in government are often consistent with established employment qualifications and pay levels – especially at the federal level. These criteria may result in a demanding and multistage application and promotion procedure, but they usually provide clear objectives and job descriptions.

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The average federal government accounting salary ranges significantly (up to $52,000), implying that there may be a lot of room for advancement and better pay.


Additional tips on following this career path

Get an internship or entry-level position

Getting as much experience as you can before and after graduation may significantly boost your CV and increase your chances of landing an accounting job.

Choose a specialty

Most accountants work in a specific field of accounting. You can opt to work in corporate or public accounting or specialize in a field such as taxes or auditing. Your area of specialty will most likely be related to your degree, as well as your own preferences and abilities.

Consider pursuing continuing education

Many professional accountants do not continue their studies after acquiring a degree and the relevant certifications. Participating in continuous education is essential if you want to be the most effective accountant possible and stay up to date on accounting advances.

Accountants can continue their education in a variety of ways, including through further certifications and MA degree programs.

Future outlook of the Government finance sector

There are no guarantees that someone will find a job after earning a degree, although the demand for accountants is consistently high. Accounting, because it is basically about money management, may be viewed as a crucial engine of our economy.

Historically, technical advancement has resulted in the abolition of certain vocations and the creation of others. According to rumors, the increased use of AI will pose a significant risk to accounting professions. Gartner predicted that AI will displace 1.8 million jobs, but it really lost 2.3 million. Work that is repetitive and involves a lot of human data entry is at danger of being taken over by AI.

Accounting tasks requiring external relationships and corporate development is more difficult to automate. As a result, even if duties such as data entry and the completion of simple tasks are automated, we believe accountants are still as important as ever.

How much do federal government accountants earn?

On July 29, 2021, the Federal Government’s annual average wage in the United States was $81,957. This works out to about 39.40 bucks per hour. It’s either $1,576 or $6,830 each week.

The average federal government accounting salary ranges significantly (up to $52,000), implying that there may be a lot of room for advancement and better pay depending on the level, region, and years of experience.

Working for the government also has many benefits, such as:

Public Transportation Subsidy

Subsidies for public transportation are frequently provided to state and federal employees. The monthly stipend from the federal government is $90. In many places, $90 may pay the whole cost of a monthly unlimited pass.

Student Loan Forgiveness

The majority of government employees are eligible for loan forgiveness programs. These programs are intended to reward people who choose to work in the public sector by alleviating the burden of student debt. This might result in tens of thousands of dollars in savings. The Personnel Management Office has been given detailed instructions on how public sector accountants can repay college loans.

Better work/life balance

Government accountants are promised a 40-hour work week, paid time off, lots of vacation time, and a variety of benefits packages. Many offices provide work-from-home opportunities to skilled employees. Unlike the Big Four corporations, which typically frown on employees who use paid time off accruals, government supervisors encourage employees to spend their yearly vacation balance in order to keep personnel healthy and productive.

Forensic accounting career paths

Government agencies such as the FBI, IRS, and CIA all have forensic accounting tracks that require certified forensic accountants. Many departments have an investigation department, which is commonly referred to as the Inspector General’s Office. Each OIG unit must have forensic accounting to prevent fraud and avoid budget problems.

The ability to combine auditing and research is critical for government enterprises, and forensic accountants are paid more than their colleagues. The best part is that employees are really happy in their jobs. This is because civic responsibilities have been fulfilled, and society has improved.

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