Both considered to be vitally important functions in society and the world of business, accounting and engineering are two different occupations that share a similar focus on complex mathematical calculations, though the particular use of these calculations can have very different purposes.
Accounting and engineering are each hired for a variety of purposes, depending on their particular specialty and level of qualification, both of which are widely diversified, with certain types of engineers and accountants even being able to work in some sectors that are not necessarily connected to their degree.
Whether deciding on what sort of professional to hire for a business or determining a future career path, it is important to understand the distinction between that of an accountant and an engineer, as though their tasks may appear similar from the outside, their general function in their respective fields can be quite different.
What is Accounting?
At its core, accounting is a career focused on recording, interpreting and compounding the various financial factors involved in personal and corporate function, leading to accountants acting in a plethora of capacities and positions within a financial entity.
Accounting is generally divided by the level of certification any one accountant may possess, whether by the passing of a licensure exam or by the attainment of educational degrees related to said certifications.
The position, compensation and functions performed by accountants will largely depend on the certification they have acquired, with higher levels of certification acting as doorways into more specialized and better compensated work.
At the highest certification level of CPA or CA, depending on the location, accountants may even open their own firm or practice, allowing said accountants to contract out other members of the same profession to financial entities that may require external accounting services.
And while it may be true that accountants at the most basic level are paid less than engineers at a similar position, both accountants and engineers with significant experience and qualifications tend to have similar compensation, especially in certain fields of engineering and accounting such as executive corporate management.
What is Engineering?
Engineering, on the other hand, is a professional discipline wherein an individual studies and theorizes on the real world application of mathematics and certain types of science, depending on the particular specialty and field of the engineer.
Unlike accountants, engineers are considered to be somewhat more distinct between individuals and their particular fields, with accountants being able to perform much of the same duties as any other accountant.
This is not as true with engineers, as a computer engineer shares very little experience and education with an electrical or biochemical engineer, all three of which are considered nearly distinct career paths with little overlap save for their shared focus on applied mathematics.
Because of this, it is rather difficult to quantify the exact differences between an engineer and an accountant, with the only generally shared characteristics between each sub-type of engineer being a focus on mathematics, a requirement for being cerebrally and theoretically creative and oftentimes a somewhat more intense educational system than accounting.
In terms of compensation and quality of life pertaining to their career, engineers are generally paid somewhat more at a basic level (entry-level) than accountants, though this difference begins to disappear as individuals in the two careers grow more experienced and qualified.
Even in terms of working hours, highly certified accountants in coveted positions such as executive management or that of a chief financial officer are generally known to work about the same length of time as highly certified engineers.
How is Accounting Used?
In terms of working beneath a financial entity, accountants are utilized in a variety of capacities pertaining to the internal finances and related information within said entity.
This is most often done in the form of financial statement preparation, wherein an accountant will compile and interpret information collected by book keepers employed by the entity or a bookkeeping system.
Other duties normally performed by accountants in a corporate setting or beneath a financial entity are that of external and internal auditing, employee compensation, inter-entity financial communication, financial information disclosures, and even general management in some situations.
For individuals such as members of the population with significant assets in their portfolio or people requiring help filing for Value Added Tax (VAT) an accountants may also be used. This is normally done through the contracting of freelance accountants, or through the hiring of an accounting firm’s employees.
Accountants acting under the employ of an individual or their family may perform duties such as financial appraisal, dispense advice on their financial plans and accounts, carry out certain aspects of an individual’s will after their death, and even advise on or directly file their taxes and tax returns.
How is Engineering Used?
Engineering, being a highly variable occupation, is used in nearly every industry to some capacity or another. This may be seen in even the most basic implements of any business sector, such as the structure plans for constructing a building, the electrical dynamics of a server room, and even the general research and development department of many corporations.
Even in a basic way, members of the field of engineering may be utilized in an advisory capacity so as to facilitate the general functions of a corporation, such as in the development of their proprietary software or direct maintenance of equipment used by the corporation.
Engineers working in their normal manner often utilize their creative thinking, mathematical background and education in the application of these skills in order to improve upon or produce inventions that are in demand by society.
This is most noticeable in such sub-types of engineering like software engineering or mechanical engineering wherein the primary purpose of the engineer’s presence in the corporation is to develop and research the products of a company, either alone or as part of a development team.
Engineers may also work in other capacities that do not include the direct development or research of a product, such as the operation of specialized equipment that non-engineers are not qualified to operate, or in the management of a team or department within the organization they are employed in.
What are the Functions of Accounting?
Though engineering is a truly diverse field with a variety of different avenues one may take, accounting itself is also split up into various subfields that dictate the sort of work an accountant may perform over the course of their career.
Considering the sheer number of functions an accountant may serve, we have elected to instead list the four most commonly found kinds, though the actual number is far higher.
Perhaps the most common and accessible form of accounting, individuals acting as financial accountants generally work in an informational capacity.
Financial accountants validate, interpret and disclose the various types of financial transactions occurring within an organization or institution, with things like invoices, receipts and asset acquisitions all falling under the purview of financial accounting.
This information is subsequently used both by internal and external parties in order to assess the standing, growth and function of the financial entity in question.
Tangentially related to financial accounting, accountants acting in a managerial capacity work as advisors to executives and other managers within the financial entity so as to improve the general operation of said entity.
This is most often done through the assessment and interpretation of various financial statements produced by the entity and its other accountants. Once properly understood, the managerial accountant will then advise executives and managers of the entity on the next best step from a financial standpoint.
Most often seen in regulatory bodies or the federal government, forensic accountants utilize their training and education in order to investigate the finances of entities or individuals so as to determine the origin, cause, or presence of illegal financial activity.
This is most often done through the careful analysis of financial information disclosed to the forensic accountant directly or otherwise acquired through an audit.
The information pertaining to illegal financial activity is then subsequently used in a court of law, either in order to support the accusations of the prosecuting party or as verifiable proof for the defendant party.
Somewhat more rigid and systematic than the other forms of accounting found on this list, governmental accountants perform the various duties required in order to keep the various forms of governmental bodies functional.
This is not only constrained to the function of the federal government but also that of the state government, local government, city government and even town governments, in certain cases.
The primary difference found between the work of a governmental accountant and that of a corporate accountant is the minute ways the operation of a government differs from that of other financial entities, such as in the way a government must report their financial information, as well as the budgetary management involved therein.
What are the Functions of Engineering in a Corporation?
While engineering is a highly diversified field with many differences between each sub-field of engineering, most engineers in a corporate setting can generally be found performing one of the following functions in the daily course of their work.
Research and Development
Among the most frequently found functions of an engineer is that of the development and research of products related to said corporation or organization.
Primarily done in order to increase profit margins, develop new types of products or improve upon already existing products, engineers working in research and development will usually apply their theoretical knowledge to real life inventions that serve some sort of purpose to consumers.
Certain types of equipment require significant training and education prior to being used, which is where engineers working in the operation of said equipment come into play.
This type of engineering function is usually seen in specialized laboratories or highly delicate manufacturing lines that require specialized knowledge in order to either operate properly or remain safe while doing so.
Equipment operation engineers can also work in a supervisory capacity in order to ensure that other employees of the corporation operate said equipment in the proper manner and to reduce the chance of incidents occurring.
Supervision and Management
Usually requiring individuals with either significant certifications or years of experience in their relevant field, supervising or managerial engineers act in an executive role within their corporation, allowing them to make large scale decisions to the benefit of their client.
Managerial and supervising engineers often lead a team of engineers or similar individuals so as to properly dictate each individual’s workload and retain team cohesion through the control of the team in its entirety.
Testing and Installation
Somewhat related to equipment operation, engineers working in a testing or installing capacity can work closely with their research and development counterparts in order to ensure the efficiency and workmanship of their creations.
Installation engineers may also work in tandem with other employees of the corporation in order to erect structures and bring devices into place for clients.
This, in turn, also makes testing and installation engineers small scale managers in some function, wherein they may lead a team in the safe and operationally conductive performance of a testing or installation procedure.
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