Is chartered accountancy a good job

Job description of the accountant in Germany

Requirements that must be met and examinations that must be taken in order to acquire the respective professional title Description of the activities, tasks and positions that are usually assigned to the people who use this professional title in Germany.


Designation in GermanEquivalent in English
AccountantBookkeeper or Accounting Clerk
Accountant *Certified Management Accountant
tax consultantTax Consultant
AuditorsChartered Accountant (GB)
Certified Public Accountant (US)


* Note: The literal translation of "Accountant" in English "Balance Sheet Accountant" his, which in practice would mean "Employed accountant who is qualified to prepare the annual financial statements" = (Company Accountant who is qualified to balance end-of-year account). Since the use of the literal translation always leads to further questions and sometimes cumbersome explanations, we simply say “Certified Management Accountant” in English. This is shorter and has been found to be easier to understand than the translation and explanation above.


Designation in GermanEquivalent in English
AccountantBookkeeper or Accounting Clerk


Has completed an apprenticeship period of two or three years in any branch of trade or industry, which must have included an appropriate apprenticeship in accounting for the company providing the training, and during which he attended the commercial vocational school required by law in Germany at the same time Lessons in the fundamentals of bookkeeping and accounting are attended. He finished this apprenticeship with the successful participation in an examination and received a certificate that is known in Germany as a "Kaufmannsgehilfenbrief".

If he wants to work in bookkeeping or an accounting department immediately after the above check or later, he will be employed by a commercial company as an accountant or as a clerk in accounting. No additional training or examination is required for such employment because he usually starts out as a junior and generally acquires the specialized skills of an accomplished accountant by doing practical work.


Designation in GermanEquivalent in English
AccountantCertified Management Accountant


In addition to the requirements for the accountant described above, he must have worked in the field of accounting for trade and industry for at least 3 years, and during this time he has usually attended advanced training courses, either evening and weekend courses over a period of 1 or 2 Years or a full-day course lasting around 3 - 6 months.

He has completed this additional training by successfully passing an examination at a German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, known as the “Bilanzbuchhalterprüfung”, and has received a certificate that entitles him to qualify as a “Certified Management Accountant”. to call.

The knowledge gained through these courses and also the requirements made in the examination mainly cover the following subject areas:

  • Use of the various bookkeeping, bookkeeping and accounting systems;
  • Organization of accounting processes;
  • Closing entries to prepare the balance sheet;
  • Preparation of the annual balance sheet and the profit and loss account;
  • Analysis of the results obtained through accounting and accounting;
  • Preparation of reports to management and tax returns;
  • Laws and implementing ordinances relating to all types of taxes;
  • Peculiarities regarding taxation of companies and legal persons;
  • Various methods and processes of business accounting; Operational accounting including costing and post-costing;
  • Financing the company and drawing up the liquidity plan and budget.

The certified management accountant is mainly employed in managerial positions in companies, such as head of accounting, head of the internal auditing group, controller, head of finance and accounting. After a few more years of professional experience as an accountant, he can even become a member of the management of medium-sized companies as finance director official framework plan issued by the German Industry and Commerce Day (DIHT) (The Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce).

Tax consultants and auditors (or their partnerships partner companies) very often like to hire the accountant as an “upscale” accountant to do the bookkeeping in their own office and / or for business purposes - but always as their employee of the bookkeeping work of their clients. If the accountant intends to take the examination for appointment as a tax advisor or auditor at a later date, this may also be a suitable type of employment relationship for him.

A considerable number of accountants also do their work on a freelance basis (approx. 20,000)

(Note on the activities of accountants who offer their services as freelancers:)

In contrast to the German tax advisor, it is the German accountant who works as a freelancer not allowed to do the following types of work on a business basis for its clients:

  • Establishment of accounting systems and procedures;
  • Preparations for the preparation of the annual financial statements;
  • Preparation of the annual financial statements and the balance sheet; implementation of the annual wage tax adjustment for employers;
  • Calculation and submission of the monthly or quarterly advance VAT return.

The result of this legal restriction is that the accountant who works as a freelance professional is only allowed to do the daily, ongoing bookings within his customer's existing accounting system, as well as to prepare the monthly income tax return Germany only allows tax advisors. (Exception: lawyers and auditors). This provision is laid down in the German Tax Advisory Act.

The working group of self-employed (freelance) accountants, which has formed within our association, regards this legal provision as an inappropriate measure in favor of German tax consultants.


Designation in GermanEquivalent in English
tax consultantTax Consultant


Has completed a university degree in business administration, economics or law with the acquisition of the corresponding diploma or state examination, and then worked in practice in the field of taxes administered by the federal and state authorities for at least 3 years. Alternatively, the completion of studies at a university of applied sciences, in the same subject areas as above, and then 4 years of practical experience as well as the successful completion of an apprenticeship with a member of the tax or business consulting profession (e.g. as a tax assistant) or even as a prerequisite a commercial occupation (e.g. business assistant letter, see above) and 10 years of practical experience in taxation, recognized.

After successful participation in the tax advisor examination, which is carried out on a nationwide basis by a mixed examination commission of the respective state finance ministry and the tax advisor chamber (known as the “tax advisor examination” in Germany), he is authorized to provide tax advice as a “tax consultant”.

He must carry out his activities exclusively as a freelancer and may only enter into an employment relationship with legally prescribed special features with the natural or legal persons listed in detail in the Tax Consultants Act and the professional code. In addition, he must be a member of the Chamber of Tax Advisors. Tax consulting activities are not counted as commercial activities.

According to the law, tax advisory activities include:

  • Business assistance in all tax matters in compliance with the respective tax laws and regulations;
  • Business assistance in the fulfillment of bookkeeping obligations and accounting in accordance with commercial and tax law, and business consultancy in connection therewith;
  • The preparation of the tax and commercial balance sheets, their tax assessment, and the related legal and business advice;
  • Completion and submission of all necessary tax returns and / or tax returns to be submitted to authorities;
  • Filing legal remedies for his clients with the tax authorities and the tax court and acting as a representative in filing appeals and in legal proceedings;
  • The same in proceedings for criminal tax matters.


Designation in GermanEquivalent in English
AuditorsChartered Accountant (Br.)
Certified Public Accountant (US)

Tax advisory activities for natural persons who are neither professional nor freelance and do not operate a business are only permitted to tax advisors. (Exception: also allowed for lawyers and auditors).



As a rule, has completed a university degree in the following subject area with the acquisition of the corresponding diploma or state examination, namely:

  • the business administration or economics of the jurisprudence of the technical sciences of the agricultural sciences

This was followed by at least 4 years of practical testing, of which 2 years had to be completed with an auditor or sworn accountant (or in their professional partnerships, partnerships or companies). During this time, he must have actively participated in statutory audit procedures and in the drafting of reports on them.

In the case of non-academics, the missing university course can be replaced by at least 10 years as an employee of the aforementioned professionals. A maximum of 4 years of any business studies at a university of applied sciences can be counted towards the 10 years.

After fulfilling these prerequisites, he has to submit an application for admission to the examination to the highest state authority for economics, which forms an admissions committee and an examination committee.

There he also takes the corresponding exam.

The process and content of the examination are specified by the legislator in the examination regulations for auditors. Examination areas are:

  • Economic auditing, regarding current accounting, auditing of the final (annual) financial statements;
  • Business administration, economics
  • Commercial law
  • Tax law

After passing the exam, the applicant will be appointed as an auditor by the highest state authority for economics, but must take a professional oath before the appointment certificate is issued. The sub-subjects belonging to these main subjects and to be examined are listed in detail in § 5 of the examination regulations for auditors. For exam participants who are already tax consultants, the oral and written examinations in tax law can be omitted. To prepare for this very difficult exam, he usually took part in training courses and revision courses that stretched over a longer period of time; these preparation opportunities are organized by private schools and course providers, especially the Institute for Auditors in Germany e.V.

The appointed auditor may only work as a freelancer and, by law, must belong to the Chamber of Commerce. He is allowed to use a professional seal. He may only work with members of other liberal professions (or their professional law firms, partnerships or companies) in accordance with the provisions of the Wirtschaftsprüferordnung (WPO) or act as an employee authorized to sign and represent them.

The auditor's areas of responsibility are:

  • Business examinations; ) on legally required
  • Annual audits; ) or on a voluntary basis
  • Issuance of auditors' reports with regard to their audits;
  • Other audit activities, e.g. organizational, cost and price reviews;
  • Performance checks credit checks;
  • Embezzlement audits;
  • Special audits provided for by the German Stock Corporation Act;
  • Foundation examination;
  • Audits in the event of mergers, conversions and capital increases;
  • Advice and representation in tax matters; (like a tax advisor or lawyer);
  • Activity as an expert in the field of economic management;
  • To advise in economic matters and to protect foreign interests;
  • Fiduciary representation.