The demand for accounting graduates is high, with nationwide job growth for accountants and auditors expected to be 7% by 2030. Whether you aspire to work in business, non-profit sectors, or government, an accounting degree will help you qualify for an entry-level position and much more than that.
A degree in accounting will give you the skills necessary to adapt quickly to various professional environments and grow in your chosen career. So, if you are wondering what you can do with an accounting degree (besides accounting), please keep reading. We have compiled a list of 13 hot jobs that you can land with an accounting degree and provided information about the skills you will develop, the job outlook, and salary expectations.
What Is an Accounting Degree?
An accounting degree sets students on a path to a successful career in business and finance. And it prepares them to work for various corporations, businesses, non-profits, and government agencies.
A bachelor’s degree is the standard in the field of accounting, while a master’s degree opens the way to a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or other advanced credentials. A degree in accounting helps graduates use their knowledge of finance, economics, mathematics, and statistics to grow a business.
What Will You Learn in an Accounting Program?
If you choose to study accounting, the first years of your studies will help you grasp core elements of business practice, learn about accounts receivable and payable, tax returns, and financial statements. You will also develop essential soft skills like communication, critical thinking, and diversity awareness.
After you learn the basics of accounting, you will be trained in more advanced accounting topics like international accounting, auditing, and fraud examination. This will prepare you for positions further up the management ladder.
Jobs You Can Get with an Accounting Degree
There are a number of job positions that you can land with an accounting degree besides accounting. Some of these positions include staff accountant, auditing clerk, payroll clerk, internal auditor, budget analyst, financial analyst, accounting manager, certified public accountant, tax manager, corporate controller, and chief financial officer. Below we explore all of these jobs that you can get with an accounting degree.
1. Staff accountant
This is a great entry-level role for individuals with a bachelor’s degree. Staff accountants are in charge of performing some bookkeeping tasks as well as assisting senior accountants in auditing, processing accounts payable and receivable, recommending improvements to reduce costs, and so on. This job position does not require a CPA, but it exposes you to many different areas in the field of accounting.
If you want to become a staff accountant, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a similar field. Completing certification in a specific accounting field can also improve your job prospects.
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for accountants and auditors was $73,560 in May 2020. And the employment of these professionals is expected to grow 7% over the decade, with about 135,000 job openings each year.
2. Auditing clerk
An auditing clerk’s responsibilities include checking figures, documents, and postings and ensuring they are mathematically correct and properly coded. In case of errors, they can make minor corrections themselves. However, if there are significant discrepancies, auditing clerks have to notify senior staff like accountants or auditors.
Employers usually require auditing clerks to have some postsecondary education or coursework in accounting, but they also learn some skills on the job. Some candidates can be hired with only a high school diploma, but they need to have basic math and computer skills.
The average annual wage for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks was $42,410 in May 2020, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. And about 170,300 openings for these positions are expected every year.
3. Payroll clerk
A payroll clerk checks, collects, and processes payroll data and calculates the salary or benefits for employees of an organization or company. They also use computerized and manual systems to keep records of employee attendance, leave, or overtime, prepare and check statements of earnings for employees, prepare employee payments, complete and process forms for employment benefits, prepare income tax, as well as create reports and statements related to pay and benefits.
This role is a great entry-level position for those studying accounting or recent graduates. However, you can also work as a payroll clerk with only a high school diploma and acquire the necessary skills while working.
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for a payroll clerk was $48,290 in 2020.
4. Internal auditor
Internal auditors deal with a large amount of data, so if you want to pursue a career in auditing, you should have a keen eye for details. The responsibilities of an internal auditor usually include recognizing and evaluating business risk, ensuring accurate and precise audit information reports to management, managing resources, and audit assignments, preparing internal audit procedures, and implementing audit and business practices.
If you want to become an internal auditor, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a similar field. Completing certification in the field of accounting can improve your job prospects.
The average annual wage for auditors was $73,560 in May 2020, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the employment of accountants and auditors is expected to grow 7% over the decade, with about 135,000 job openings each year.
5. Budget analyst
With a budget analyst job, you will be able to help various organizations, institutions, governments, universities, and businesses to plan their finances, prepare budgets, and monitor spending. As a budget analyst, you will regularly review financial plans for accuracy, completeness, and conformance with regulations and organizational goals.
A bachelor’s degree is typically needed to become a budget analyst. But, of course, many employers prefer to hire those with a master’s degree. Courses in accounting, economics, or statistics are very helpful too.
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for budget analysts was $78,970 in May of 2020. The lowest 10% earned less than $51,220, while the highest 10% earned more than $121,360. Employment of budget analysts is expected to grow about 5% from 2020 to 2030, and about 4,300 openings for this occupation are projected each year over the decade, BLS reports.
6. Financial analyst
With a career as a financial analyst, you will help individuals and organizations make strategic decisions based on shareholder interests, stock viability, competition, growth expectations, and more. The job of a financial analyst is to examine the financial data of an organization or business and provide guidance for investment decisions.
Financial analysts need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field such as business, economics, finance, mathematics, or statics to enter the occupation. However, some prefer to hire applicants with a master’s degree in accounting, finance, or business administration.
Financial analysts earned a median of $83,660 per year or $40.22 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Almost 41,000 new job openings for financial analysts are projected to be created each year, on average, over the decade, BLS reported. Many of these openings are expected to result from the need to replace those who transferred to different positions or retired.
7. Accounting manager
An accounting manager oversees the operations of an organization or company’s accounting department. They examine and report financial information, assist with tax processing, and present financial statements to an organization’s board of directors.
If you want to become an accounting manager, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a similar field. Completing certification in the field of accounting can improve your job prospects.
The average annual wage for accountants and auditors was $73,560 in May 2020, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the employment for these professionals is expected to grow 7% over the decade, with about 135,000 job openings each year.
8. Loan officer
A loan officer examines the finances of individuals and businesses in order to decide if a loan should be approved. To do that, they consider the income levels, credit ratings, and balance sheets to come up with a decision and meet with the applicant to help guide them through the process. If the loan is approved, the loan officer will review the agreement and ensure it complies with federal and state requirements.
Loan officers typically need a bachelor’s degree and on-the-job training. Some loan officers also need a license, such as a mortgage loan officer.
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for loan officers was $63,860 in May 2020. Furthermore, the BLS reports about 25,000 job openings for loan officers.
9. Certified public accountant
There are accountants, and there are certified public accountants. CPAs are able to perform two essential tasks: prepare financial reports to submit to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service. Other responsibilities include performing a wide range of auditing and consulting duties, similar to other accountants. However, they differ in their ability to deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS),
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In order to become a certified public accountant, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a similar field and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. This license will help with career advancement.
CPAs fall under the occupational category of Accountants and Auditors. The average annual wage for this category was $73,560 in May 2020, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the employment for these professionals is expected to grow 7% over the decade, with about 135,000 job openings each year.
10. Tax manager
Tax managers, just like accounting managers, are responsible for overseeing a team of accountants. Their duty is to prepare an institution’s taxes and ensure that its operation is within federal, state, and local tax regulations. Tax managers often develop strategies for saving money during tax season.
Besides a bachelor’s degree, financial managers typically need more than five years of experience in other business or financial occupations, such as an account, securities sales agent, or even financial analyst. Other professional certifications or courses may also help you land the job you want.
A tax manager position falls under the category of a financial manager. And according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, a financial manager’s average annual salary is $134,180. Furthermore, the employment of these professionals is projected to grow 17% over the decade, which is much faster than the average growth rate for all professions.
11. Forensic accountant
One of the most in-demand jobs in accounting is forensic accounting. A forensic accountant conducts audits or records of a business, organization, non-profit, or government to determine fraud, liability, and valuation. So, simply put, they conclude if a business or organization falsifies their bookkeeping, offer evidence for court cases, make calculations for insurance companies to determine the owned amounts, and make accurate calculations of property tax valuations.
If you want to become a forensic accountant, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Completing certification in the field of accounting can considerably improve your job prospects.
The average annual wage for accountants was $73,560 in May 2020, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the employment of accountants and auditors is expected to grow 7% over the decade, with about 135,000 job openings per year.
12. Corporate controller
A corporate controller’s duties are to prepare financial statements and reports that summarize and predict a company’s financial activity and position. Corporate controllers and assistant controllers may also develop policies and procedures for budget administration, credit management, and other accounting functions of an organization.
Besides a bachelor’s degree, financial managers typically need more than five years of experience in other business or financial occupations, such as an account, securities sales agent, or even financial analyst. Other professional certifications or courses will also help you land the job you want.
A corporate controller falls under the category of a financial manager. And according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, a financial manager’s average annual salary is $134,180. Furthermore, the employment of these professionals is projected to grow 17% over the decade, which is much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations.
13. Chief financial officer
This is a critical role in various companies; the CFO manages companies’ financial operations and oversees the efficiency of finance and accounting departments. A chief financial officer must run a tight ship, keep the company’s finances working in perfect order, and analyze information to determine business strategies and actions for the future.
Besides a bachelor’s degree, chief financial officers usually need more than five years of experience in other business or financial occupations, such as an accountant, securities sales agent, or financial analyst. Other professional certifications or courses will also help you land the job you want.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, a chief financial officer gets paid from $70,830 to $208,000 yearly. And the employment for this occupation is expected to grow by 17%, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.
No matter whether you aspire to become a financial accountant, managerial accountant, or pursue any alternative careers for accountants, you are going to need a bachelor’s degree. By earning a bachelor’s degree, you will learn the best strategies, practices, and skills that are required in order to thrive in the field and stand out to employers among other applicants.
So, now that you know more about the wide range of career opportunities you can pursue with a bachelor’s degree in accounting take the next step and explore our accounting degree program to see how it can help you reach your career goals.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
What qualifications does one need to become an accountant?
To become an accountant, you typically need a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or a related field. Some positions may require a master’s degree in accounting or a related discipline. Additionally, obtaining professional certifications like Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Chartered Accountant (CA) can significantly enhance your credentials and career prospects.
Are there different types of accountants?
Yes, there are various types of accountants specializing in other areas. Some common types include:
- Public Accountants: Offer services like auditing, tax preparation, and consulting for individuals, businesses, and organizations.
- Management Accountants: Focus on internal financial reporting, budgeting, and performance analysis within a company.
- Government Accountants: Work in public sector organizations, ensuring compliance with financial regulations and managing public funds.
- Forensic Accountants: Investigate financial discrepancies and potential fraud.
- Tax Accountants: Specialize in tax planning and preparation for individuals and businesses.
Are accountants and bookkeepers the same thing?
No, accountants and bookkeepers are not the same. Bookkeepers handle day-to-day financial transactions, recording them in ledgers and maintaining financial records. On the other hand, accountants analyze financial data, provide insights, and help make strategic financial decisions based on the information gathered.
Do all accountants deal with taxes?
Not all accountants exclusively deal with taxes, but many do. Tax accountants specialize in tax planning, preparation, and compliance for individuals and businesses. Other accountants also deal with tax-related matters to varying degrees, depending on their role.
Do accountants need to be good at math?
Yes, accountants need to have a solid foundation in math, as their work involves complex calculations, data analysis, and financial modeling. However, the level of mathematical complexity required can vary depending on the specific role and the tasks involved.
Is accounting difficult?
Accounting can be challenging, particularly as you move into more advanced concepts and responsibilities. It requires attention to detail, analytical skills, and a strong understanding of financial principles and regulations. The difficulty can vary from person to person based on their aptitude for the subject matter.
Is accounting harder than finance?
Both accounting and finance have complexities, and the difficulty level can depend on individual strengths and interests. Accounting often deals with accurately recording and reporting financial data, while finance focuses on broader financial analysis, investments, and strategic decision-making.
What is the hardest subject in accounting?
Many individuals find subjects like advanced financial accounting, taxation, and auditing to be more challenging areas within the field. These subjects often involve complex regulations, intricate calculations, and a deep understanding of financial reporting standards. However, the perception of difficulty can vary from person to person.