What math do accountants use?

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In terms of the mathematics content that is "used" (required) to obtain a bachelor's degree in accounting, most colleges and universities require the student to take courses such as algebra, geometry, trigonometry, statistics, probablity, business math, and perhaps lower level calculus. In other words, to become an accountant, a person has to be somewhat decent in math.

Once an accountant is actually employed, though, he or she may not directly "use" (perform) the specific mathematical operations and procedures that are used in actually calculating the numerical data, largely because computer programs tend to handle most of that for them.  However, it is crucial for an accountant to understand the mathematics behind the accounting processes, because that knowledge is necessary in determining what numerical figures to enter into the programs, the types of relationships between the various points of the numerical data, and a host of other significances. 

Of particular importance is an accountant's ability to determine human error.  Since many computer accounting programs heavily rely on the accountant's ability to physically enter the numerical data into the programs, there is a good chance that errors can and will be commited.  If an accountant has a strong background in math, she or he will be able to visually detect whether or not the calculated data "looks right," or "makes sense," and then go back and correct any mistakes that may have been made.  If an accountant did not have direct experience with performing mathematical calculations manually, such detection of mistakes would be virtually impossible.

Lastly, the specific types of math used by accountants may also be determined by the specific types of jobs they may have, and the type of accounting degree(s) they have.  There are public accountants, managerial accountants, internal auditors, and government accountants.  Moreover, the sizes and functions of the employers are widely varied.  For instance, a recordkeeper for a small "mom and pop" company would not likely utilize the same type of math as an accountant who works for a large automobile producer, and a financial recordkeeper for a small town's police department may not use the same type of math as a private forensic accountant who is consulting with the FBI.

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