Property Accountant Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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What are the pros and cons of a career as a property accountant? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary information to see if becoming a property accountant is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Property Accounting Career

Property accountants, a subset of the accounting profession, need to be highly skilled with mathematics, possess at least a bachelor's degree related to accounting or finance and be prepared to work long hours on occasion. Find out the pros and cons of the career to see if it's the right choice for you.

Pros
Better than average pay ($73,670 as of May 2014)*
Average job growth (13 percent between 2012-2022)*
Ability to keep businesses accountable financially*
Encourages strong organizational skills*

Cons
A minimum of a bachelor's degree required (with master's sometimes preferred)*
Long hours at specific times of the year*
Pressure to make calculations accurately*
Requires a high level of detail-orientation*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Information

Job Description

As a property accountant, you'll help make sure financial records for real estate are accurate and that payments and taxes are handled in a timely fashion. You'll need to have a thorough understanding of laws regarding taxes and fraudulent practices in order to examine statements as diligently as possible. Understanding federal and local restrictions specific to real estate property will be essential toward your ability to process and present relevant information. In addition to preparing and searching through financial documents, you may be asked to give recommendations about financial decisions which may involve in-person meetings and presentations.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

In May 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that accountants in general earned a median annual salary of $65,940, while the top ten percent earned more than $115,950 annually. The need for thorough accounting has solidified itself in recent years due largely to prominent corporate financial scandals and well-documented fraudulent practices. Additionally, as businesses become more global, the need for employees who understand laws and restrictions surrounding property overseas will certainly increase. The BLS predicts that employment for accountants should grow by 13 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is as fast as the average rate for all occupations.

Requirements

Education

The minimum education you'll need to become a property accountant is a bachelor's degree. These programs include courses in general accounting that can be applied to property accounting, such as auditing and income tax preparation. Depending on the desired position, you may consider completing a master's degree program in accounting or in business with a specialization in accounting. Since experience is a significant component in landing a position, you may consider pursuing an internship during your program.

Skills

You should seek to become a strong overall communicator with excellent math skills. These skills will help you analyze data quickly and explain it to other individuals. Additionally, the ability to be organized and handle multiple projects at once is important.

Licensing

The BLS indicates that if you plan to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission, you must become a Certified Public Accountant. To earn this certification, you'll need to complete a national exam as well as meet specific state requirements to become one. While state standards may vary, some may require a master's degree or a certain number of credit hours in accounting.

What Employers Are Looking For

Employers highly value experience when selecting the best candidate for openings at their companies. Many positions also required a bachelor's degree. The following job listings were posted in May 2012:

  • A commercial real estate company in Atlanta, GA is looking for a property accountant. The ideal candidate will have 7-10 years of experience, a bachelor's degree and significant expertise with modern accounting software.
  • A property management company in California is seeking a property accountant with a minimum of four years experience and a four-year degree. Additional requirements include excellent communication skills and familiarity with Microsoft Office.
  • A boutique staffing firm in Philadelphia, PA is searching for a property accountant with a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance. Other requirements include 5-7 years experience in accounting or real estate and knowledge of current accounting software.
  • A financial executive recruitment company in Dallas, TX is seeking a property accountant with a bachelor's degree and more than five years of experience. Commercial real estate experience is preferred.

How To Stand Out in the Field

Once you've become a CPA, you can also look into gaining other certifications in related areas such as the Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) and the Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) through the American Institute of CPAs. An additional certification is the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) offered by the Institute of Management Accountants, which requires two years of experience in management accounting and the passing of an exam. These certifications add distinction to your profile and may assist you in your career growth.

Alternative Career Paths

If you'd like to pursue a career with similar characteristics but slightly higher employment prospects, you might want to look into becoming a personal financial advisor. These professionals help clients with personal financial decisions, such as starting a college fund or planning for retirement. The BLS estimates that employment opportunities for personal financial advisors are expected to increase 32% from 2010 and 2020. Growth is due in large part to individuals within the baby boomer generation seeking out financial planning assistance as they approach retirement. In May 2011, the BLS estimated that personal financial advisors earned around $67,000.

If you'd like to remain in a field assessing the financial values of property but with slightly less stringent educational standards, you may consider becoming an appraiser or assessor of real estate. These individuals estimate the value of various properties. Some entry-level jobs are available to those with only a high school diploma, though many candidates do possess at least an associate's degree. However, both the pay and employment outlook are lower than for accounting professions. In May 2011, the BLS stated that these individuals earned $49,000 annually, with employment expected to grow just seven percent from 2010-2020.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master - Accounting
      • MS in Accounting- Tax Specialization
      • MS in Accounting - Audit Specialization
      • MS in Accounting - Government Specialization
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      • MBA: Finance
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Accounting
      • Bachelor: Managerial Accountancy
      • Bachelor: Tax Accountancy
      • Bachelor: Auditing-Forensic Accountancy
      • BSBA - Investment
      • Bachelor: Public-General Accountancy
    Associate's
      • Associate: Accounting
      • Associate: Business Admin.
      • Associate: Business Admin. - Office Mgmt
  • Online Programs Available
    2. George Mason University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Government Analytics
  • Campus and Online Programs
    4. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Music Business
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    5. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Finance
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Advanced Accounting
      • PhD in Business Admin - Advanced Accounting
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      • Doctor of Business Admin - Management
    Master's
      • MS - Accounting
      • MBA - Financial Management
      • Master of Business Admin - Accelerated General MBA
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  • Online Programs Available
    7. University of Delaware

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Concentration
      • Master of Business Administration - Finance
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      • Master of Business Administration - Custom/General
      • Master of Business Administration - Multiple Concentrations
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  • Online Programs Available
    8. Saint John's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Accounting
      • Master of Business Administration: Taxation
      • Master of Science in Taxation
      • Master of Business Administration: Interdisciplinary Business
  • Campus Locations:
    9. Virginia College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate's - Business Admin
    Certificate
      • Diploma Program - Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Accounting
      • Master of Arts in Law - Business
      • Master of Arts in Law - Wealth Management/Financial Planning
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      • Master of Business Administration - Kindom Business
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Accounting
      • Bachelor of Science in Business - Accounting
      • Bachelor of Science in Business
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Business
      • Bachelor of Arts in English - Government
      • Bachelor of Arts in Government

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master - Accounting
  • Bachelor: Accounting
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George Mason University

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Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Government Analytics

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Full Sail University

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  • B.S. - Music Business

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Georgetown University

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  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

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Northcentral University

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  • PhD in Business Admin - Advanced Accounting
  • MS - Accounting
  • MBA - Financial Management

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University of Delaware

  • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Concentration
  • Master of Business Administration - Finance
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Saint John's University

  • Master of Science in Accounting
  • Master of Business Administration: Taxation
  • Master of Science in Taxation

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