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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Robert Half 2014 Salary Guide: Comprehensive and up-to-date information on salaries within all areas of accounting and finance.
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants: Provides valuable training, programs, services and publications for a successful accounting career.
- National Association of State Boards of Accountancy: CPA exam news and information, including State-specific eligibility requirements.
- Texas State Board of Accountancy: View information about the CPA exam, educational and work requirements, fees and required paperwork.
- The Institute of Internal Auditors: Specialized information, education, research and accreditation for internal auditors.
- Institute of Management Accountants: Great resource for those working in industry, including the CMA credential.
- Association of Government Accountants: Supports accountants working in government with community networks and education.
- Association of Certified Fraud Examiners: Resources for those interested in fraud examination and the CFE designation.
- National Association of Black Accountants: Accounting information and resources for African-Americans and other minorities
- The Uniform CPA Examination website: Offers learning resources, including a tutorial for people preparing for the exam.
- Beta Alpha Psi: An accounting and business fraternity organization connecting accounting students, academics, and professionals.
- Tax Executives Institute: Education, networking and advocacy for tax professionals.
- PwC Career Advisor: An interactive tool designed to help assess interests and professional goals.
Certifications and Credentials
|Certification||Certification Granted By||Additional Information|
Certified Public Accountant
|Uniform CPA Exam Licensing by State (see State CPA Requirements)||www.aicpa.org
Certified Management Accountant
|IMA (Institute of Management Accountants)||www.imanet.org|
Certified Internal Auditor
|The Institute of Internal Auditors||www.theiia.org|
Personal Financial Specialist
|Personal Financial Planning (PFP) Section of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants||pfp.aicpa.org|
Certified Financial Planner
|Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc.||www.cfp.net|
Certified Fraud Examiner
|Association of Certified Fraud Examiners||www.acfe.com|
National Association of Forensic Accountants
|National Association of Forensic Accountants||www.nafanet.com|
|Internal Revenue Service||www.irs.gov|
Certified Government Financial Manager
|Advancing Government Accountability||www.agacgfm.org|
|American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers||www.aipb.org|
Certified Public Bookkeeper
|National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers||www.nacpb.org|
Certified Payroll Professional
|American Payroll Association||www.americanpayroll.org|
Fundamental Payroll Certification
|American Payroll Association||www.americanpayroll.org|
|QuickBooks ProAdvisor||Intuit Inc.||proadvisor.intuit.com|