What is the Difference Between an Accountant and an Economist?

Accountant vs. EconomistFor people who are interested in working with numbers and being part of the financial processes of any type of company, research into possible career paths might include determining the difference between an accountant and economist. In either role, an accounting or economic financial professional is influential in driving the economic and financial policies of any type of organization.

The Role of an Accountant

The accounting profession continues to be in high demand throughout all types of industries and companies. Whether looking to work for a small firm or a multinational organization, accounting professionals have numerous options for not just workplace environment, but there are also many different opportunities for what role to play in an organization’s success. For many professionals in this field, becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is the first step.

Some CPAs work on staff for corporations, in public accounting firms, government agencies, non-profit organizations, financial institutions such as banks or credit unions, and educational institutions. As a CPA, professionals will perform tasks such as completing and managing financial statements, income tax returns, tax planning, and various systems of accounting for individuals and firms. Other responsibilities might include handling payroll and preparation of various documents and reports.

Additional tasks may fall to the accounting department such as analyzing financial data, auditing financial statements, preparing budgets, and making recommendations for financial operations. Ultimately, an accountant is involved in many of the day-to-day operations and financial decisions of an organization. Additional information on the scope of an accounting professional can be reviewed at the American Accounting Association website.

The Role of an Economist

Like an accountant, a career as an economist will require an understanding of various areas of finance, accounting operations, and economics. An economist, however, will perform functions that enable various organizations to make predictions on economic conditions in order to make decisions beyond the day-to-day financial operations of a company or organization. Much of what an economist does each day relates to the research of the influence of economic policy and making predictions based on the analysis of collected data.

Economists are often divided into practical and theoretical roles. Practical economists often work for financial institutions, business firms, and government agencies. One of the main responsibilities of the practical economist is to collect and analyze data in research to identify economic trends and the influence of economic policy in order to make forecasts on resources, goods, services, costs, inflation, exports and imports, and employment.

Theoretical economists, often employed by government agencies as well as educational institutions, are often responsible for researching and evaluating the effects of current economic policies and forecasting the effects of changes in policy. Through this research, theoretical economists are able to develop and present the theories and mathematical models that can influence changes in economic policy. Additional information on the role of an economist can be found at the American Economic Association website.

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Whether interested in working in the day-to-day operations of a company or driving the economic policy of the United States, these opportunities offer a number of possibilities. With the difference between an accountant and economist, future financial professionals can work toward obtaining the degree and experience to enter into the profession that best fits individual interests and career goals.