Accounting degrees are widely applicable to a number of different career paths. Students armed with an accounting degree have access to an expanding job market that is projected to experience continued positive growth over the coming years. Could a career as an accounting professional be a good fit for you? Compare your strengths and career goals with the information below to find out.
Interests and Aptitudes that Could Support an Accounting Degree
There are a few aptitudes that will greatly enhance a student’s chances of successfully completing an accounting degree and could help indicate whether a career in accounting might make a good fit. First, students with a natural proficiency in dealing with numbers could find accounting a promising and fulfilling career path. Students with an eye for detail and a commitment towards producing high quality will also find accounting an apt career choice. The field is also a good fit for people with natural aptitudes for working alone or for working in groups, since accounting roles exist in both categories.
What Can You Do with an Accounting Degree?
Pretty much anything in the business community regardless of the sector involved: Public, Corporate or Governmental. The following are four examples of career paths that you could pursue with an accounting degree.
1. CPA (Certified Public Accountant)
- Salary: Average starting annual salaries for accountants range from $40,000 to $57,500 according to the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants and the projected starting salary could increase up to 10-15 percent for those with a master’s degree and a CPA certification.
- Experience requirements: Entry-level jobs with little to no experience are readily available.
- Schooling requirements: Bachelor’s degrees are the minimum educational level most job seekers need to enter the CPA field according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
- Career Outlook: The demand for accountants is expected to increase by up to 11 percent from 2014 to 2024. This translates into an increase of 142,400 available jobs projected by 2024.
- Basic Duties: Accountants are often responsible for preparing and scrutinizing financial documents, performing financial and budgeting management functions, and helping clients prepare and file tax submissions.
2. Financial Analyst
- Salary: The BLS reports an average salary of $81,760 per year for financial analysts.
- Experience requirements: Varies widely by job description.
- Schooling requirements: Bachelor’s degrees are almost always minimum requirements for financial analyst positions, and graduate-level degrees are almost always preferred. Additionally, Investopedia.com reports that in order to take the CPA exam, one must complete at least 150 credit hours of postsecondary education, which is more than what is required for a bachelor’s degree.
- Career Outlook: While the number of financial analyst jobs in America is much smaller than that of accounting or auditing jobs (277,600 as supposed to 1,332,700 in 2014 respectively), the field is anticipated to experience an even stronger increase in demand in the ballpark of 12 percent, or over 32,000 jobs, from 2014 to 2024.
- Basic Duties: Financial analysts assess investment options that could include stocks, bonds, real estate, mergers, acquisitions, and more. They often report to corporate executives and business strategists or leadership teams. They provide financial insight used to determine the long-term direction of the company or entity.
3. Government Auditor
- Salary: According to the BLS, the median income for accountants and auditors was reported at $68,150 in May, 2016.
- Experience: Varies depending on the position.
- Schooling requirements: Bachelor’s degrees are almost always required.
- Career Outlook: The BLS reports the projected growth of accounting and auditing fields congruently. Thus, government auditing positions are expected to increase as well as accounting and auditing jobs in the public sector.
- Basic Duties: Government auditors perform many of the same functions or duties that an accountant might perform. However, their work would be performed within a government setting ranging between any branch of government from municipal to Federal.
4. Accounting Entrepreneur
- Salary: Varies depending on the position.
- Experience: Varies depending on the position.
- Schooling requirements: Varies depending on the position.
- Career Outlook: An accounting entrepreneur often refers to someone who starts or manages their own accounting firm. However, according to an argument made in an enlightening piece published by Accounting Today, there are more firm managers or owners than accounting entrepreneurs in the world today. Being one does not necessitate being the other. Accounting Today’s definition of an entrepreneur describes someone who focuses on needs and discovers how to meet or solve them. According to this definition, accounting entrepreneurs are professionals who use their skills in accounting (or their management skills to facilitate accounting services performed by others) to find unique ways to solve problems and alleviate needs for their clients.
- Basic Duties: As is the case with entrepreneurial endeavors, the responsibilities and daily activities of an accounting entrepreneur could vary widely depending on the type of business, scope of operation, and stage of their project’s or business’s development. However, entrepreneurship almost always involves heavy interpersonal interaction. This could take place in the form of soliciting sales, performing customer service, surveying current or prospective clients to determine their needs, and developing further insight into the industry through conferences, networking, and more.
Accounting degrees can help pave the way to a variety of careers, ensure strong earning power, make higher positions accessible, and speed your ascension through the ranks. Take time to explore the difference an accounting degree might make for your career.
Numbers are the foundation of any business — and no one knows numbers better than accountants. But to succeed as a financial professional in today’s competitive landscape, you need more than numerical know-how; you need the expertise to conduct analysis and leverage data to drive business decisions. That’s exactly what the online Master of Accountancy from Ohio University prepares you to do.
Accounting Today, “The rise of the accounting entrepreneur”
AICPA.org, “CPA Salaries and Job Market”
Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Accountants and Auditors”
Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Financial Analysts”
Investopedia.com, “Career Advice: Accounting vs. Auditing”
U.S. News, “Leverage Job Prospects With a Master’s in Accounting”