Accounting Careers

Read on to learn about typical courses, resources, and careers in this field.

Staff Writer

2022-09-0825 min read

Accounting careers are the bedrock of most financial institutions in the country, with high demand in almost every industry. These professionals work across many fields.

Earning a degree from an accredited institution allows you to explore this lucrative career path.

This resource explores accounting careers, degree options, salary figures, job outlook, and other valuable information to improve your job prospects.

Read on to uncover everything you need to begin your accounting career journey today.

Why Choose Accounting?

The accounting field is lucrative, with room for growth and career advancements in several disciplines. It's also one of the top industries with high job demands and competitive salaries, especially with a postgraduate degree.

Every company or organization needs accounting skills, so there's no shortage of job openings after graduation.

A degree in accounting allows you to work in any industry and become a part of an extensive network of professionals. It opens doors to multiple networking opportunities. And as a result, you never lack resources to advance your career.

So, if you have strong analytical, mathematical, communication, and organizational skills, why not explore a career in accounting?

How to Start your Accounting Journey

To begin your accounting career journey, you need a degree from an accredited university or college. You could start with an associate program and work towards earning a bachelor's or postgraduate degree.

Here are a few educational paths you can explore.

Education Requirements

Associate Degree

An associate degree in accounting teaches introductory subjects like tax preparation, budgeting, cost and payroll accounting, and more.

This program prepares you for entry-level jobs such as account collectors, bookkeepers, and financial clerks. You can also transfer to a bachelor's degree with an associate's in accounting to improve your career prospects.

Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's program teaches fundamental accounting concepts, including tax reporting, auditing, accounting ethics, and fraud examination.

This four-year course qualifies you for jobs in financial services such as auditors, tax examiners, budget analysts, actuaries, and more.

You can also apply for accounting certifications and additional courses to land higher-paying managerial roles and advance your career.  A graduate certificate in accounting gives you the 150 postsecondary credits you need to apply for the CPA exam.

Master's Degree

This postgraduate degree prepares you for managerial roles with more responsibilities and diverse career options. During this program, you'll focus on specializations in auditing, taxation, accounting information systems, and other advanced concentrations.

A master's degree helps you apply for CPA certification and qualifies you for jobs like accounting manager, finance director, financial advisor, and more.

Doctorate in Accounting

This terminal accounting degree prepares you for a management-level career like the Chief Financial Officer or a job in academia. You'll complete specialized courses like advanced statistics, accounting research, corporate governance, and microeconomic theories.

A doctorate helps you improve your research skills and teaches you to use quantitative tools to solve accounting issues.

Employment Prospects

Professionals in this field enjoy lucrative career paths in multiple industries and sectors. Your job options increase with experience level and certifications.

The current employment landscape plays a significant role in the rising demand for accounting graduates, from economic conditions to replacing retiring professionals. These factors will create an influx of accounting roles requiring skilled and qualified candidates.

Accounting Career Forecast

The BLS cites the increasing globalization of businesses and economic growth for the high demand for accounting professionals. They project over 130,000 job openings for accountants and auditors annually, with a 6% increase in employment from 2021-2031.

Technological advancements such as cloud computing, blockchain, and artificial intelligence may automate routine accounting tasks and increase efficiency. As a result, accountants' advisory and analytical duties will become more prominent.

How to Boost your Accounting Career

Earning postgraduate degrees and certifications helps advance your accounting career and gives you a competitive edge over other professionals. Online degrees and certifications are solid alternatives if you don't have time for a graduate program.

Becoming a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) leads to higher-paying jobs and career advancements. And you can sit for the exam with a bachelor's degree.

Other notable certifications like Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) help you advance your finance career and level of expertise.

Mastering accounting software and task management tools like Quickbooks, Oracle Netsuite, and SAP show hiring managers your proficiency and dedication to your craft.

Lucrative Accounting Career Paths

Accounting jobs are in high demand since their services extend across several fields, from financial institutions to government agencies.

These are some of the lucrative and rewarding career paths in this field.

Accountant and Auditor

Accountants and auditors ensure the accuracy of financial and tax records within companies and organizations. In addition, they prepare tax returns and identify mismanaged funds.

You need a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance-related fields to qualify for this role. Earning certifications in specific areas improves your career prospects in high-paying industries.

Average Salary

Accountants and auditors earn median wages of around $77,000 annually, with the highest 10% making over $120,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Analyze financial documents and statements to ensure they follow laws and regulations

  • Manage and organize tax records

  • Identify financial risks and suggest best practices to increase revenue

  • Provide financial solutions for businesses and organizations

Industries Employing Accountants and Auditors

Some top-paying sectors for accountants and auditors include:

  • Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing

  • Financial Investments and Related Activities

  • Pipeline Transportation of Crude Oil

  • Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Others


Actuaries utilize their mathematical and statistical skills to analyze financial risks and outcomes. They work mainly with insurance companies to calculate risk factors across different industries.

You can apply for roles in this field if you love numbers and have a strong background in mathematics, statistics, and business.

Average Salary

Actuaries command high salaries, with the lowest 10% earning about $63,000 in median wages, while the highest 10% make over $200,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Gather and analyze statistical data and financial information

  • Research and create strategies to manage financial risks

  • Develop and test insurance policies and business strategies

  • Prepare reports and presentations of their findings

Industries Employing Actuaries

Companies and organizations with the highest concentration of actuaries include:

  • Finance agencies, insurance, brokerages, and other related sectors

  • Legal services

  • Scientific and technical consulting services

  • Management of companies and enterprises

Budget Analyst

Budget analysts advise government agencies and various organizations on their finances and recommend areas of improvement. In addition, they analyze problem areas in their finances and help plan alternative funding methods.

While some employers prefer budget analysts with postgraduate degrees, many hire professionals with bachelor's degrees in accounting or similar disciplines.

Average Salary

Budget analysts earn median wages of around $79,000 yearly, with the highest 10% earning more than $120,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Design organizational budget

  • Oversee company expenditure to ensure it stays within budget

  • Analyze data to determine the benefits and downsides of various programs

  • Communicate recommendations to stakeholders and managers

Industries Employing Budget Analysts

Budget analysts work in top industries like:

  • Government organizations

  • Educational sectors

  • Monetary authorities

  • Natural gas distribution

  • Data processing, hosting, and related services

Tax Examiner

Tax examiners work for government agencies like the state tax departments and the IRS to review tax returns and resolve any issues. They also follow up with debtors or taxpayers with questionable tax returns.

You need a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance-related fields to qualify for this role.

Average Salary

Tax examiners earn around $56,000 in annual median wages. The highest 10% of earners make over $100,000, while the lowest 10% earn about $35,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Review filed tax returns

  • Ensure lawful tax credits and deductions by taxpayers

  • Notify taxpayers of underpayment or overpayment

  • Maintain records of active cases

  • Assist in filling tax forms

Industries Employing Tax Examiners

High-paying sectors that employ tax examiners include:

  • Federal Executive Branch (OEWS Designation)

  • State Government

  • Local Government

Personal Financial Advisor

These professionals provide financial advice on investments, mortgages, taxes, insurance, retirement plans, and more to individual clients. You need a bachelor's degree in accounting or related fields to qualify for a job as a personal financial advisor.

A master's degree in this field also improves your chances of career advancement into higher-paying positions in different industries.

Average Salary

Personal financial advisors earn median salaries of about $94,000 annually, with the highest 10% making over $200,000. This wage data also include commissions, bonuses, and incentive pays.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Discuss financial goals with clients and assess their needs

  • Inform them about investment options and potential risks

  • Analyzing financial data and advising investment strategies

  • Invest and manage funds for clients

Industries Employing Personal Financial Advisors

There are over 30,000 job openings for personal financial advisors yearly. Some of the largest employers of these professionals include:

  • Monetary authorities and investment services

  • Insurance and employee benefits funds

  • Computer systems design and related services

Cost Estimators

These professionals analyze data, calculate financial estimates, and recommend measures for reducing costs in companies and organizations. Cost estimators work across multiple fields, mainly in construction and manufacturing.

A bachelor's degree in accounting and similar disciplines is the minimum requirement for this job.

Average Salary

Cost estimators earn median salaries of $65,000 to $115,000 yearly, with the lowest 10% making around $38,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Work with the sales department to prepare cost estimates and bids

  • Identify problem areas affecting production time, cost, labor, and more

  • Calculate and analyze financial estimates of materials and production

  • Recommend ways to cut costs

Industries Employing Cost Estimators

Some of the largest employers of cost estimators include:

  • Building equipment contractors

  • Automotive repair and maintenance

  • Scientific research and development services

  • Software publishers

Finance Director

Finance directors manage finance departments and implement plans to improve an organization's overall efficiency. They also evaluate their team's performance when necessary.

Many hiring managers prefer candidates with a postgraduate degree and relevant experience in finance roles.

Average Salary

According to PayScale,, and Indeed, finance directors earn median wages of over $100,000, depending on the industry. Entry-level roles earn around $80,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Create and allocate departmental budgets

  • Manage the company's banking arrangement and cashflow

  • Nurture relationships with investors and company stakeholders

  • Ensure team members adhere to finance policies

  • Improve financial processes

Industries Employing Finance Directors

Some top-paying sectors for finance directors include:

  • Finance and insurance

  • Information services

  • Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing

  • Securities, commodity contracts, and others

Accounting Manager

Accounting managers monitor and handle company expenses, annual budgets, revenue, and more. They also hire and train new employees in the finance department and oversee various teams.

You can qualify for this role with a master's degree in accounting, finance, or similar fields and work across multiple industries.

Average Salary

According to Indeed, ZipRecruiter,, and PayScale, accounting managers earn average salaries of around $70,000 to $150,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Monitor revenue and expenses

  • Gather and analyze financial reports

  • Draft budgets and plans

  • Manage billing and payroll

Industries Employing Accounting Managers

Accounting managers work in various sectors like:

  • Government agencies

  • Non-profit organizations

  • Educational institutions

  • Finance and insurance

  • Information services

Financial Manager

Financial managers work in several industries, from banks to insurance companies. They create financial reports, choose investment activities, and handle long-term monetary plans for their organizations.

You'll need a bachelor's degree and several years of experience in business or financial institutions to qualify for this role. However, some hiring managers prefer candidates with postgraduate degrees.

Average Salary

Financial managers earn median salaries of over $131,000, with the highest 10% making more than $200,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Analyze market trends

  • Prepare business activity reports and statements

  • Review financial accounts and discover ways to reduce expenses

  • Monitor cash flow and manage company budgets

  • Provide financial advice

Industries Employing Financial Managers

Some of the top-paying industries that hire financial managers include:

  • Management of companies and enterprises

  • Financial investments and related sectors

  • Information services

  • Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

These top executives manage and oversee the financial operations of companies and organizations. CFOs make smart and strategic decisions that benefit the company and increase its economic growth.

You'll need a postgraduate degree in finance or related fields and several years of experience in senior management positions to qualify for this job.

Average Salary

Chief financial officers' median wages may depend on company size, location, certifications, or skillsets.

According to, the average CFO earns over $300,000 yearly, with the lowest percentile earning over $100,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Oversee company budget

  • Advise the CEO on financial issues

  • Design guidelines, internal control policies, and financial procedures

  • Perform audits to ensure the company follows IRS guidelines

Industries Employing Chief Financial Officers

Sectors with the highest-paid chief financial officers include:

  • Software publishing and information technology

  • Finance and investment

  • Insurance and employee benefit funds

  • Manufacturing and consumer brands

Pros and Cons of Accounting Careers

Businesses and organizations rely on professionals in this field to keep their operations up and running. As a result, accounting careers provide financial stability and job satisfaction.

However, securing a job in this discipline isn't without its downsides.


  • The chance to travel

  • Income stability

  • High demand

  • Room for career growth and advancements

  • Competitive salary and benefits

  • You can work in different industries


  • The continuous learning process

  • The work can become monotonous

  • Longer hours during busy seasons

  • The job is demanding and stressful

  • Some high-paying roles require certifications and licenses

Skills You'll Develop With Your Accounting Degree

An accounting degree gives you valuable skills to enjoy a lucrative career. Some of them include:

Attention to Detail

Paying attention to minor detail is a valuable accounting skill, as it helps you analyze and spot errors in financial reports.


Effective communication skills help strengthen interactions with stakeholders and team members. The best accountants can transform numbers and charts into stories that non-accounting personnel can understand.

Analytical and Critical Thinking

Accountants need analytical and critical thinking skills to address discrepancies and solve complex problems. Developing this ability allows you to determine new strategies and increase workflow efficiency.

Organizational Skills

Most accountants manage their company's finances and taxes. And as a result, they need strong organizational skills to review financial documents and render efficient services.

Mathematical and Deductive Reasoning

Understanding certain mathematical functions and deductive reasoning is crucial for most accounting professionals. This skill allows you to identify errors and solve complex cases in record time.

How to Prepare for an Accounting Career

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree

An undergraduate degree provides you with the foundational knowledge to navigate most accounting positions. You can start with an associate degree and advance to postgraduate degrees and certifications.

2. Take the CPA Exam

Before enrolling for the CPA certification, you need 150 postsecondary credits to qualify for the exam. A bachelor's degree gives you around 120 credits, so you'll need additional credits from a graduate program.

3. Learn New Technologies

Accounting technology helps you predict patterns and trends in financial data and other computing tasks. As a result, you must stay updated on new tools and learn how to operate different accounting software.

4. Find a Mentor

You can learn from accounting experts and develop your skills by following in their footsteps and accomplishments. Before choosing a mentor, look for one with an excellent reputation within notable organizations and have overcome challenges in their career.

5. Apply for a job

Once you've earned a degree and certifications, you can find a professional accounting niche and apply for roles there. Ensure your skillsets match the position you apply for to avoid frustrations early in your career.

Accounting Resources to Help Your Career

This field has numerous helpful resources to boost your career, from open courseware to publications and open-access journals.

MIT and UC Irvine offer free online courses that cover several accounting topics and financial strategies.

You can also join professional organizations to connect with industry experts and share ideas and growth opportunities.

Here are some good ones to join:

How to Switch to an Accounting Career

You can transition into an accounting career from closely related fields. However, most entry-level positions require a bachelor's degree.

If you're switching from an unrelated discipline, you can take an intro accounting course to understand the field. Then, pursue a graduate accounting degree. You don't need a bachelor's degree in accounting or similar fields to meet the master's program requirements.

Another angle to pursue is to gain a certification in specialized areas. You can enroll and pass the certification exam without much industry experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Final Thoughts

The accounting field is broad and offers students a range of lucrative career choices, from tax examiners and auditors to financial managers. The employment outlook and job openings are top-tier and leave room for continued learning and career advancements.

So, are you looking to join this lucrative career path and become a part of this large number of accounting experts?

Look no further. This resource has everything you need to succeed on this fascinating journey.

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