What Can You Do With An Accounting Degree? 10 Career Paths To Consider
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If you're wondering what you can do with an accounting degree, rest assured it's a valuable asset. In fact, renowned billionaire investor Warren Buffet once called accounting the language of business.
An accounting degree prepares you to speak and understand that language, whether you pursue accountancy, auditing, sales management, advising or one of the many other accounting career paths.
In this article, we overview what an accounting degree is, various accounting concentration areas available and ten jobs you can get with an accounting degree.
An accounting degree teaches you the concepts and skills to interpret and communicate an organization's financial information. Accounting graduates help organizations improve their efficiency and profitability.
Often taking four years, a bachelor's degree in accounting usually requires a minimum of 120 credits to graduate. In addition to foundational courses in math, economics, science and humanities, major requirements can include financial statement analysis and reporting, business strategy, financial markets, taxes, ethics and other business-related courses.
Though a degree in accounting will provide you with general accounting knowledge and skills, the following concentrations can lead you down a specific career path. Note that concentration offerings vary by school.
Auditors review financial records for accuracy and to ensure accounting policies and best practices were followed. In an audit, errors are identified and can even prevent future ones. This concentration prepares students to become internal or external auditors.
Rather than auditing an organization to create clarity and provide recommendations, forensic accountants investigate whether or not an individual or organization has committed a crime. These crimes may include embezzlement, money laundering, tax evasion or other means of fraud.
In addition to accounting skills, a concentration in information systems prepares students to incorporate technology, including designing information systems and managing data. An information systems master's degree is another option to further your skills.
Instead of a degree focused only on accounting, business administration degrees have a concentration in accounting. Pursuing a business administration degree provides students with foundational business knowledge and managerial skills in addition to those in accounting.
Rather than preparing tax documents or performing audits, a concentration in managerial accounting prepares you to analyze, interpret and communicate data to help leadership make sound financial decisions. This concentration may lead you to pursue a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation.
Public accountants provide accounting services for a wide range of businesses and clients. As roles in public accounting are broad and include accountancy, auditing or taxation, a degree in accounting often prepares students for public accounting. If public accounting is your area of interest, find a program that prepares you for your Certified Public Accountant (CPA) test.
A taxation concentration goes beyond the basics for individuals and businesses. Some additional courses may include gifts and estate tax, corporate or partnership taxes, multijurisdictional taxation and tax-exempt entities.
While many would expect to become an accountant or auditor after completing a degree in accounting, there are many other careers where you can leverage your skills and knowledge. Here are ten jobs you can get with an accounting degree. All median salaries and projected job growth percentages courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Median Annual Salary: $77,250
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): 6%
Job Description: Accountants keep their client's financial records organized and accurately maintained to reduce costs, manage revenues and boost profits. As individuals, organizations or the government's financial records can be highly complex, an accountant's role can vary depending on their employer's needs.
At a minimum, a bachelor's degree in accounting is required, with some employers desiring a master's degree. The CPA license is the foundational credential accountants can earn.
Median Annual Salary: $77,250
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): 6%
Auditors effectively review the accounting process. Whether you are an internal or external auditor, job duties typically involve reviewing an organization's financial documents to ensure they were prepared correctly and that the leadership team is notified of inaccuracies, fraud or waste.
A bachelor's degree is generally required to become an auditor, with some employers preferring a master's degree. Obtaining a Certified Internal Auditor designation validates the knowledge, skills and experience needed to be an effective auditor.
Median Annual Salary: $45,560
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): -5%
Organizations hire bookkeepers and accounting or auditing clerks to keep a record of financial transactions, both expenditures and income. Utilizing software and spreadsheets, bookkeepers ensure accurate data inputs and will generate reports for supervisors to analyze and determine the financial next steps for the organization.
Bookkeeping requires just a high school diploma and a few college courses in accounting to get started. The Certified Public Bookkeeper certification offered by the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers is a bonus to your resume.
Median Annual Salary: $79,940
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): 3%
Both private and public organizations can benefit from an outside perspective. Budget analysts help develop budgets alongside program and project managers to meet the greater aims of the organization. They also review funding proposals for accuracy and completeness and monitor spending and availability of funds.
While a bachelor's degree is typically required, experience in finance-related work may be considered instead of a degree. Overall, being skilled in numbers and analytical thinking is valuable.
Median Annual Salary: $77,300
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): 6%
Financial analysts focus on many areas. However, their overarching goal is to support businesses or individuals in increasing funds through calculated investment. Depending on the role, a financial analyst may focus on securities, risk management, rating companies or portfolio management.
A bachelor's degree, preferably in business, is often required for entry-level positions. Some organizations may prefer a master's degree. Advancement opportunities may arise after gaining experience, and obtaining the CFA Institute's Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification can be beneficial.
Median Annual Salary: $81,410
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): 21%
Financial examiners can work in two general areas: risk assessment and consumer compliance. In risk assessment, examiners assess a company's financial health, ensuring the stability of funds. While risk assessment examiners protect the company, consumer compliance examiners ensure that financial institutions treat borrowers fairly and legally.
Landing a career as a financial examiner often requires a bachelor's degree in business or a related field. Two certifications can increase a financial examiner's credibility: the Accredited Financial Examiner and the Certified Financial Examiner (CFE) offered by the Society of Financial Examiners.
Median Annual Salary: $131,710
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): 17%
While a financial examiner will assess a company's financial health, a financial manager is responsible for ensuring its health. Their duties include preparing financial reports and forecasts, advising executives to reduce costs and further profits and managing a team of employees.
In addition to a bachelor's degree in business or a related field, you can expect to need a minimum of five years in a financial occupation before landing a financial manager job. Additionally, obtaining a CPA license or CFA certification can help you stand out among other applicants.
Median Annual Salary: $93,000
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): 11%
Also known as management consultants, management analysts use financial and other data to identify areas of improvement within an organization to increase its overall efficiency and profitability. Management analysts can work for an organization or on a contractual basis.
A common requirement for this role is a bachelor's degree. However, some employers may prefer candidates with a master's in business administration (MBA). The Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation can also be beneficial for attracting new clients or landing competitive positions.
Median Annual Salary: $94,170
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): 15%
Personal financial advisors get to know their client's needs and guide them in achieving both short- and long-term goals. They consider many aspects of their client's financial situation to advise them on the best approach in planning for retirement, funding education expenses, managing risk, managing taxes or estate planning. They also sell financial products, including stocks, bonds, insurance policies and annuities.
While a bachelor's degree is typically required to become a personal financial advisor, on-the-job training is typical to build your competency. Earning the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation can build your credibility, increase your reputation and gain new clients.
Median Annual Salary: $127,490
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): 7%
A sales manager typically oversees the inner workings of business-to-business or business-to-consumer sales. Their work can include analyzing sales statistics, setting sales goals, developing pricing plans and marketing strategies, as well as coordinating training programs for sales representatives.
With experience in sales, it is possible to become a sales manager with a high school diploma. However, a bachelor's degree is often required.
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