The Variety Of Accounting Career Paths

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Students who have chosen to major in accounting may or may not have an idea of what they’d like to do, but the career options before them are numerous and worthy of breaking down. These post-graduation careers vary in the type of work that’ll be required and the sort of environment that accompanies them. The careers may have different qualifications or skill sets as a requisite to success. Students ought to know what sort of salaries they can expect, whether that specific job is growing and at what rate, as well as opportunities to move up in that career. The field of accounting is vast and hopefully after reading this those students will be familiar with the career paths offered and exactly what they entail.

First on the list is governernment accountant. As the name suggests, a government accountant works for the government either at a federal, state or local level. Depending on which of those levels you choose to work at there are some slightly different types of jobs. If you go the federal route you may end up at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) investigating white collar crime or auditing the financial statements of big government agencies. If you would rather go the local route you would be doing those on a smaller scale but also managing revenues for your city or state. All government accountants will deal with budgeting and management of public funds. In order to land one of these jobs a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting or another business degree is required. Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) is also highly encouraged. Before you can even take the CFE exam you must have had experience handing fraud detection and you must be a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) when you apply. Going through this process is well worth it though, as “the ACFE’s global salary study found that CFEs earn a 31 percent income premium over their peers without the credential” (https://www.acfe.com/career-path-government-accountant.aspx). The skills and abilities that a government accountant needs to have are independence, written and verbal communication, being analytical, analyzing financial data, locating hidden assets, and damage assessment. Government accountants are also expected to have knowledge of government structure, Generally Accepted Government Accounting Standards (GAGAS), computer information systems, and evidence integrity analysis. Salaries are obviously going to vary from state-to-state, but here in California the average wage for government accountants is $39.72 hourly or $93,280 annually (https://www.accounting-degree.org/job-description-government-accountant/). Government accountants have excellent upward mobility as open positions are easy to find information on and they tend to promote from within. This particular job is expected to grow 6 percent in the next 10 years.

The next career I want to dissect is tax accountant. Tax accountants are hired by people to assist them in filing their taxes, both federal and state, and they work to save those people money on the taxes owed. The work is seasonal as you would expect: very busy during tax season and somewhat slow at other times. In order to become a tax accountant you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in business, typically accounting or finance. If you want to file state taxes you’ll need to be a CPA, if you want to file federally you’ll need to become an Enrolled Agent (EA) or have worked at the IRS for at least five years. Time management, problem solving and communication are all vital skills to a tax accountant, as well as an in-depth knowledge of tax law that is up to date. The average entry level salary is $40,000 with the senior level employees making $100,000 per year (https://www.indeed.com/salaries/tax-accountant-Salaries). Job growth is 16% annually over the next few years.

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Another accounting career is internal auditor. Unlike an external auditor, who is checking out the financial statements in order to give fair representation of the company’s finances to the shareholders, internal auditors work for the company itself and provide information to managers and the Board of Directors. Their main focus is on risk management and improving the financial structures of the company. Much like all accounting fields this requires a bachelor’s in business, preferably finance or accounting. Having a master’s and certification like CPA will give you a definite edge and a much better shot at getting the job. You will need analytical skills in order to perform the internal audit as well as communication skills so you can effectively convey your findings to the managers or board. The average salary is $55,000 a year with potential bonuses of $5000-8000. Demand is growing for internal auditors and is expected to grow 10% over the next 8 years.

Next up is financial accountant. Being a financial accountant involves gathering financial data and preparing all the appropriate financial statements to provide information to stockholders. You’ll need to be able to perform cost analysis and do forecasting. As is the case with all these careers, a bachelor’s in business (ACCT or FIN) is needed and CPA is recommended. Most jobs will also require prior work experience. You will have to be highly proficient in Microsoft Excel as that is a financial accountant’s bread and butter, as well as up-to-date knowledge of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and skillful time management. The average salary is $51,000 a year or $19.82 an hour. Over the next ten years it’s expected to grow 19% (Bryce Sanders)

Managerial accountant is yet another prospective career. Similar to financial accountants, managerial accountants also work with a particular company but where financial accountant are more focused on the gathering and compilation of the data for stockholders, managerial accountants work more closely with management in an effort to advise them on budgeting and how specific decisions will affect the finances of the company. Along with your always-needed bachelor’s degree, most companies expect you to have received your Certified Management Accountant (CMA) credential. (https://www.topaccountingdegrees.org/faq/what-is-a-managerial-accountant/). Along with the credentials you’ll also need a mind for business and a familiarity with tax laws, as well as an ability to communicate the information to management in a way that they’ll understand easily. Managerial accountants are making an average of $60,000 per year and the job is expected to grow 19% by 2026 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

These were just some of the many career paths available to students who are studying accounting. Of all the careers covered one of the commonalities is the base requirement for a business degree in either finance or accounting and just about all the careers heavily recommended having some sort of additional certification. Two key skills in all these fields are communication and analysis. Accountants need to be able to look at information with a critical, analytical eye and discern what is valuable, and then they must present that information in a manner which is useful to either the stockholders or management or the government or the customer paying them to do their taxes. Whether you want consistent work year-round doing managerial accounting or you like hot and cold fluctuation doing tax accounting there are a number of career paths available to students who have received their bachelor’s degree. Hopefully the information provided has given insight on what to expect in these professions and helped discern which path you’d like to take.

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The Variety Of Accounting Career Paths. (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-variety-of-accounting-career-paths/
“The Variety Of Accounting Career Paths.” Edubirdie, 24 Feb. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-variety-of-accounting-career-paths/
The Variety Of Accounting Career Paths. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-variety-of-accounting-career-paths/> [Accessed 20 Apr. 2024].
The Variety Of Accounting Career Paths [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 24 [cited 2024 Apr 20]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-variety-of-accounting-career-paths/
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