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Careers in Accounting

Careers in Accounting are abounding with opportunity! But is this career path for you? And if it is, on which area of accounting will you focus? An accounting degree can take you in many different directions and you want to make sure that you are preparing for the direction that fits you best. While the job market is strong, the best opportunities will always go to those students who, in addition to strong academic preparation, have gotten involved in campus organizations, completed internships and connected with professional associations. The building blocks of an accounting career will always be:

  • A knack for analyzing and understanding numbers
  • Strong problem solving and math skills
  • Research and analytical thinking, and
  • Attention to detail

Accountants today must be comfortable with technology, corporate decision-making and communicating across diverse business functions and diverse cultures. No longer “just the bean counters” of the business world, accountants have increasing levels of responsibility within all aspects of the business, governmental and non-profit worlds.

  • Career Information
  • Online Resources
  • Certifications and Credentials

Career Information

The following videos provide an overview of various career paths within accounting. Each one will give you details on the type of work, typical career path and points to consider for each of these unique accounting areas. The sooner you identify the area that interests you the most, the sooner you can begin pursuing the coursework, organizations and internship opportunities that will enable you to compete successfully for positions in your chosen area.

Jennifer Johnson
Management/Cost Accounting

Under this broad category, CPAs are responsible for analyzing a company’s future financing needs, managing a company’s cash and investments, structuring deals, business valuation, and/or the acquisition or disposal of businesses and product lines. Management accountants must collect, analyze and report financial and non-financial data for the purpose of enabling sound business decisions to be made. Whether for a small, family-owned business or a large, Fortune 500 company, the information accountants manage and report play a key role in the success of organizations.

Chris Lindsteadt

Auditing is one of the most important and best known services provided by accountants in public practice. To better protect consumers and investors, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires every publicly held company to issue an annual financial statement. These financial statements are examined by an independent CPA and the results are referred to as an audit. Auditors examine a company’s financial statements to assure stockholders and others that a company’s financial position is reported fairly.

Mark Salamasick
Internal Audit

Internal audit accounting is a growing area in large part due to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) enacted in 2002. Internal auditors are responsible for providing objective reviews of a company’s financial and operating systems. They will analyze the company’s operational processes, information systems, financial systems, and controlling systems to make sure that the company is operating efficiently, legally and ethically. Internal auditors are charged with assuring that companies are not in danger of mismanagement or fraud.

Sam Cheng
Governmental and Not-for-Profit Accounting

Like their counterparts in public accounting and the corporate world, CPAs in government and non-profits work in the areas of audit, financial reporting and management accounting. They may be involved in setting up internal control systems, addressing compliance issues, budgeting resources and preparing financial data. Accountants are needed at the federal, state and local levels of government, as well as in non-profit organizations of all sizes and types.

Mary Beth Goodrich
Accounting Information Systems

Accountants are often in charge of the design, implementation and maintenance of the computer systems used in preparing both financial statements and internal controls. There is a strong demand for accountants who can design and implement advanced systems to fit a company’s specialized needs.

Art Agulnek

With constantly changing tax laws, tax professionals are involved with everything from preparing tax returns to reorganizing a company’s domestic and foreign operations in a manner that takes into consideration such factors as US and foreign taxes, cash investments, dividends and economic growth. Tax accountants can work in public accounting, government or in private practice. Depending on the setting and one’s level of technical competence, a tax CPA could focus on tax compliance, tax consulting or representing clients before the Internal Revenue Service.

Online Resources

Certifications and Credentials

Table of Certifications and Credentials
Certification Certification Granted By Additional Information
Certified Public Accountant
Uniform CPA Exam Licensing by State (see State CPA Requirements)
Certified Management Accountant
IMA (Institute of Management Accountants)
Certified Internal Auditor
The Institute of Internal Auditors
Personal Financial Specialist
Personal Financial Planning (PFP) Section of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Certified Financial Planner
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc.
Certified Fraud Examiner
Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
National Association of Forensic Accountants
National Association of Forensic Accountants
Enrolled Agent
Internal Revenue Service
Certified Government Financial Manager
Advancing Government Accountability
Certified Bookkeeper
American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers
Certified Public Bookkeeper
National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers
Certified Payroll Professional
American Payroll Association
Fundamental Payroll Certification
American Payroll Association
QuickBooks ProAdvisor Intuit Inc.