Mathematicians and CPAs both who work extensively with numbers. Mathematicians construct and solve complex mathematical problems, while CPAs provide a range of sophisticated accounting services. The CPA, which stands for certified public accountant, is a credential that an accountant can earn by completing rigorous training and testing.
The mathematician profession includes both theoretical mathematicians and applied mathematicians. Theoretical mathematicians attempt to solve mathematical problems that have not yet been solved. They break new ground in the discipline, creating the gains in the field that allow for advancement in a number of other fields that rely on math, such as a range of sciences. Applied mathematicians address and resolve practical mathematical problems in industry and government. Applied mathematicians frequently collaborate with others, such as engineers and scientists, helping them navigate complex mathematical problems that arise in their fields.
CPA work covers a number of different areas, including accounting work for both individuals and organizations. For instance, CPAs compile critical financial reports for companies and other institutions. In fact, accountants who file reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission on behalf of companies are legally required to have the CPA credential. Many CPAs focus on tax issues, providing tax planning advice to individuals and organizations and completing their returns. Internal and external auditing also are both common tasks for CPAs, as is performance management review.
Mathematicians can hold certain positions with a bachelor's degree. However, a graduate degree, such as a master's degree or a doctorate, is necessary for most advanced positions. CPAs receive their licenses from state accounting boards. Requirements vary, but all states require a prospective CPA to pass the four-part Uniform CPA Examination from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Nearly all states also require applicants to have finished at least 150 semester hours of college courses and to have a minimum of work experience in accounting.
The largest employer of mathematicians is the federal government, which employed 37 percent of the country's mathematicians in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other common employers included private science and research companies and higher education institutions, where mathematicians teach. CPAs frequently are self-employed or work for accounting firms. Others work for government institutions, financial firms, insurance companies, nonprofit organizations and on the staffs of businesses in a host of other industries.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Mathematicians Do
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Accountants and Auditors Do
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Mathematicians - Work Environment
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Mathematician
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become an Accountant or Auditor
- Connecticut CPA: CPA Career Paths
Tom Gresham is a freelance writer and public relations specialist who has been writing professionally since 1999. His articles have appeared in "The Washington Post," "Virginia Magazine," "Vermont Magazine," "Adirondack Life" and the "Southern Arts Journal," among other publications. He graduated from the University of Virginia.