Becoming a Tax Specialist: Salary Information & Job Description

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Learn about a tax specialist's salary, field outlook, job duties and educational requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a tax specialist career.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Tax Specialist

A tax specialist typically acts as a liaison between taxpayers and state, local or federal governments that collect a citizen's taxes. Listed below are pros and cons of this career field.

Pros of Becoming a Tax Specialist
Higher-than-average median hourly wage (over $24.00) as compared to the national average in 2014*
Higher salary opportunities are available at the federal government level*
Generally experience little or no change in employment, even with government budget cuts, due to the need for civilian tax enforcement*
Can advance to higher-paying positions with work experience, such as revenue agents*

Cons of Becoming a Tax Specialist
Slight employment decline (-4%) between the years of 2012 and 2022 as compared to the national average of all occupations (11% increase)*
Need to work well under pressure and time constraints**
Might be required to continue their education in order to stay current with new laws and regulations*
Some tax specialist positions require previous work experience in the field*

Source: *The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net Online.

Essential Career Information

Salary Statistics and Job Prospects

Tax specialists made a median hourly wage of over $24.00 in 2014 while the highest 90% in the field made over $45.00 per hour, and the lowest 10% earned over $15.00 per hour. Tax specialists might also move on to supervisory positions with higher pay. Although tax specialist positions are expected to decline some between 2012 and 2022, the need for these workers might rise depending on government budgets at the federal, state and local levels.

Job Description, Duties and Responsibilities

Tax specialists use their broad expertise to tackle a number of tax and accounting-related duties. Responsibilities of a tax specialist are broad and vary by position, but they generally include settling accounts, preparing monthly sales tax, conducting taxpayer surveys, analyzing financial statements and providing taxpayer support during tax season. They might also investigate fraud or delinquent taxes from citizens. Tax specialists are also responsible for ensuring that taxes have been prepared correctly, so they must be extremely familiar with tax laws and regulations.

What Are the Requirements?

Educational Requirements

Most tax specialists are required to hold a bachelor's degree in accounting, business or a related field. Some positions, such as those at the local or state government level, might substitute an associate's degree with related experience in the field for a bachelor's degree.

What do Employers Look for?

Skills needed to work as a tax specialist include technical, mathematical and verbal as well as written communication abilities. Computer proficiency, including spreadsheet and data entry aptitude, is also essential for a tax specialist. These workers must pay attention to detail, have organizational abilities and excellent follow-through with their work. The subsequent career skills are taken from actual job postings found in April 2012 for tax specialists:

  • A government position in Kentucky requires a candidate who is able to initiate research in order to complete tax forms and other documents.
  • A tax specialist in Kansas will be required to develop procedures for collecting outstanding funds from taxpayers in his or her jurisdiction.
  • A senior tax specialist in Minnesota will be responsible for compiling and maintaining detailed financial reports for the county government.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Obtain Relevant Experience

Because the field is expected to experience slow growth between 2010 and 2020, you might benefit from not only obtaining a bachelor's degree in accounting, but also gaining relevant work experience as a bookkeeper, auditor or as an accountant. Bookkeeping positions might be available at the entry-level for high school graduates to help get you started. Some tax specialist positions require one or more years of experience in the field in addition to prerequisite education.

Develop Related Skills

In addition to obtaining relevant work experience, you might benefit from sharpening your career skills for potential employers. While various levels of government have different requirements for tax specialists, employers commonly look for the following skill set for tax specialists:

  • Knowledgeable of tax laws and issues
  • Able to effectively communicate orally and in writing
  • Can establish professional working relationships
  • Can prioritize and complete a wide variety of tasks on time
  • Able to provide assistance to taxpayers when filing taxes
  • High level of concentration

Alternative Career Choices

If you decide that becoming a tax specialist isn't the right choice for you, but you like to work with numbers, you might choose to become a bookkeeper. They keep track of a company's money by compiling financial statements and balancing general ledgers and record transactions. Opportunities for these workers are available at a variety of levels, with education requirements ranging from a high school degree to a bachelor's degree. Employment opportunities in the field of bookkeeping are expected to grow at a pace comparable to the average of all occupations between the years of 2010 and 2020. Bookkeepers earned a median hourly wage of nearly $17.00 in 2011.

Another similar career to that of a tax specialist is an accountant. Accountants generally need a bachelor's degree in accounting in addition to certification as a certified public accountant (CPA), though requirements vary by state. They maintain and analyze financial statements, prepare taxes and advise business owners on ways to reduce costs. This field is also expected to grow at an average pace between 2010 and 2020. Accountants earned a median hourly wage of over $30.00 in 2011.

Popular Schools

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    1. George Mason University

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    2. Georgetown University

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      • Master of Science in Finance
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    3. Kaplan University

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      • MS in Accounting- Tax Specialization
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    4. Johns Hopkins University

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    5. Herzing University

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Featured Schools

George Mason University

  • Master of Business Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Georgetown University

  • Master of Science in Finance

What is your highest level of education completed?

Kaplan University

  • MS in Accounting- Tax Specialization
  • Bachelor: Tax Accountancy
  • Associate: Accounting
  • Executive Leader Graduate Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Government Analytics

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting & Healthcare Mgmt.
  • Bachelor: Accounting
  • Associate of Science - Accounting
  • Diploma: Bookkeeping and Payroll Accounting

What is your highest level of education?

Baker College Online

  • Business Administration - DBA (Doctorate)
  • Accounting - MBA (Master's)
  • Accounting - Bachelor
  • Accounting - Associate

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

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

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • Master of Professional Accounting
  • BS - Accounting
  • Graduate Specialization - Accounting

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