Accounting is a foundational element of business, linked to providing control, stability, and accountability to a company’s finances. It’s a role that will likely always be in demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an additional 96,000 positions for accountants and auditors between 2020 and 2030, representing job growth of 7%.
But why is accounting important? Businesses rely on accountants for much more than ongoing tax expertise. Accountants also provide services that can help a company develop strategies, make decisions, and comply with accounting laws and regulations. Their evolving role often requires expertise that goes beyond crunching numbers to also include knowledge of accounting systems, business valuations, cybersecurity, and mergers and acquisitions.
Accounting’s critical role in many facets of business is a key reason for the field’s anticipated growth — and it’s a great reason to study accounting and pursue a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) degree.
Why Is Accounting Important to Business?
In many ways, accounting is the backbone of a business. Its role is to track a company’s finances in whatever forms they may take; from credits, debits, and profitability to payroll and tax filings. It is a field driven by analytics and analytical interpretations. The information derived from such functions provides a detailed record of a business’s financial health and stability. Financial reports generated from this information can drive a company’s strategies in both the short and long term.
The key accounting occupations listed below work collectively to guide businesses toward long-term financial stability, showing why accounting is important to businesses.
- Accountants examine various financial records to ensure their accuracy and identify financial inefficiencies. Accountants also oversee corporate tax preparation.
- Controllers supervise a company’s accounting function. Departments range from those that directly correlate to business expenditures like accounts payable to peripheral operational expenditures such as payroll.
- Chief financial officers (CFOs) are executives who analyze a company’s financial health and use that information to develop current and future strategies for growth.
Where Do Accountants Work?
The jobs that accounting degree holders can perform generally depend on their degree. While entry-level accounting positions may be open to those with a bachelor’s degree, most employers prefer to hire candidates with advanced degrees for higher-level positions such as accountants and controllers.
These positions usually require some level of certification or licensure. This documentation provides employers with validation that the candidate has a firm grasp of the core competencies required for a given role. In some cases, the designation provides a necessary requirement for a potential employee to carry out the duties of their position. For instance, any accountant who files a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is required by law to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Meeting these certification and licensure requirements can open the doors to accounting positions in many industries. Following are typical areas where accountants find work.
A variety of accounting roles are available in the private sector, from health care and education to manufacturing, insurance, and beyond. Alongside their accounting proficiency, private sector accountants must also develop familiarity with their particular industry. This expertise can lead to enduring career success.
Accounting professionals may find more independence by choosing to work for an accounting firm. Those who work in this capacity are part of an organization hired to prepare, maintain, and audit clients’ financial records and statements. They may also help businesses and individuals prepare personal tax returns. This diverse client portfolio can allow an accountant to interact with a wide range of industries, which can make the job more varied.
Accountants may also seek employment at federal, state, or local government agencies. Job responsibilities vary depending on the level of government. For instance, federal accountants may manage public funds, conduct audits of government agencies, or investigate high-level white-collar crimes. Federal agencies with large accounting staffs include the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), and the U.S. Department of the Treasury (USDT). State and local government accountants, meanwhile, might manage the use of state and local revenues and investigate financial fraud at the local level.
Some accountants, particularly tax accountants, may open their own firms. As consultants with their own businesses, they enjoy the flexibility of determining their own workload. Entrepreneurial accountants may also create alternative fee structures, market to different types of clients, and take more strategic risks in their business models.
Why Study Accounting?
Individuals investigating why accounting is important also may ask, “Why study accounting?” Consider these reasons to pursue a career in accountancy.
Vital Business Field
Every kind of organization must keep track of its finances, so nearly every business relies on accountants. The occupation’s consistent projected job growth and the number of practicing accountants in the U.S. are evidence of the value employers place on this role. The BLS, which combines accountants and auditors in its statistics, lists 1.4 million professionals working throughout the U.S. in 2020.
The median annual salary for accountants and auditors, according to the BLS, is well above average, and an advanced degree can position accountants to advance their pay. Accountants and auditors made a median annual salary of $73,560 in 2020, with the top 10% of earners making more than $128,680. The median annual salary for all occupations the BLS tracks, in comparison, was $41,950 in 2020.
Advances in technology have fundamentally changed several aspects of business, and accounting is no exception. Tech innovations such as real-time data, remote conference meetings, mobile apps, and evolving accounting software have made it possible for accounting functions to become more efficient and even automated.
These evolving technologies have made many manual data-entry elements of bookkeeping obsolete, thereby enabling accounting professionals to focus more time on complex work such as analyzing and providing projections regarding financial information.
How an Accounting Degree Can Benefit You
Even as accounting becomes increasingly tech-driven, the role of the accountant will always be in demand. As BLS job metrics indicate, demand for qualified accountants isn’t expected to wane. While this bright job market may make studying accounting a great option, the versatility of potential opportunities in the field can make a career in the profession attractive in many ways beyond projected job growth.
If you’re ready to find out how you can advance in a career that’s critical to business, discover Ohio University’s Online Master of Accountancy. Whatever your undergraduate degree, the Ohio University MAcc can prepare you to succeed as a financial professional in today’s competitive landscape.
Explore how we can help you reach your career goals.
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4 Career Opportunities with an Accounting Degree
How to Become a Certified Public Accountant
Accounting Tools, “The Difference Between Public and Private Accounting”
Business Administration Information, “Getting Your Accounting Degree: Courses and Careers”
Career Builder, “What Does an Accountant Do?”
Finance Derivative, “How Technology Is Changing Accounting”
Houston Chronicle, “Advantages and Disadvantages of Starting Your Own CPA Firm”
Houston Chronicle, “Principles and Importance of Accounting for a Business”
Investopedia, “What Does a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Do?”
Puget Sound Business Journal, “Accountants Move Companies Forward by Embracing More Than Number Crunching”