Different Career Paths for Accountants

If you have experience in accounting, you may already know the profession is part of a diverse field, with various career path options available.

By earning an accounting degree and the necessary credentials, you can pursue a career path tailored to your interests and capabilities. Explore the following employment opportunities within accounting and start charting your own path.

First, You Need to Earn an Accounting Degree

The first step to starting a career in accounting is pursuing an undergraduate degree in finance or accounting. If you already have experience as an accountant, consider pursuing a graduate degree to improve your qualifications. An MBA in accounting can give you the skills you need to compete for upper-level accounting careers.

In particular, pursuing an advanced degree online means you don’t have to sacrifice flexibility while earning your degree. By equipping yourself with financial reporting, management, and technology skills, you can advance your way through your chosen accounting career path and find the career that best fits you.

Forensic Accounting

If you have a knack for numbers and a highly analytical and investigative mindset, a career as a forensic accountant may be right for you. Forensic accountants “follow the money,” investigating whether fraud, embezzlement, bribery, or other illegal monetary actions have been undertaken. To be successful in this career, you must understand the legal side of finance and think critically about the case at hand. Forensic accountants can work in both the private and public sectors, with employment opportunities in government agencies or consulting firms, insurance companies, and major corporations.

Financial Accounting

Financial accountants have an important role within corporations by recording and presenting the company’s transactions and financial statements. This information is typically provided for external audiences in compliance with regulations set by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and if the corporation is public on the stock market and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Financial accountants must be detail-oriented and scrupulous in keeping records and developing reports, so the company is fully-compliant with set standards.

Management Accounting

This area of accounting involves providing financial information to a company’s management team. The information provided to management offers a firm understanding of the company’s financial wellness and encourages informed decision-making for short- and long-term business plans, thus contributing to the company’s financial health.

Public Accounting

Public accountants are responsible for a wide range of duties, including preparing financial documents, ensuring accuracy, preparing tax returns, conducting audits, and undertaking other advisory services. Public accountants must obtain a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license to practice in this field. Additionally, people skills are essential in this career, as CPAs work directly with a host of different stakeholders. Other critical skills include organization, communication, deadline management, and proficiency with technology.

Accounting Manager

If you’re an experienced accountant with management skills, a career as an accounting manager may be a good fit. Accounting managers provide extra oversight in a company, supervising accountants to ensure accuracy and compliance with government regulations. Accounting managers are also visionaries, recommending ways to improve reporting and analyzing, as well as creating a company-wide financial strategy. They also are viewed as the spokesperson for the company’s accounting department and may be required to present or communicate information frequently.

Other Related Careers

While accounting has many diverse career opportunities, you can also consider a career within the larger financial industry. There are many finance-related job opportunities that are closely linked to accounting. If you’re looking for a role in a related field with transferable skills, consider these careers:

  • Auditor
  • Financial planner
  • Budget director
  • Payroll manager
  • Financial analyst

Hone Your Skills to Earn an Exciting Career

With the right degree, attitude, and aptitude for learning, you can take your accounting skills into a wide range of careers. By exploring these and other career opportunities, you can find one that meets your interests and applies your hard-earned accounting skills. You may even be surprised by what career growth opportunities you find.

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