December 3, 2022

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Accounting degree jobs: All of your options

With an accounting degree, you have the skills and training to work in careers in business, finance, and tech. Equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to monitor budgets, assess financial performance, and maintain accounting processes and systems, you hold essential abilities all businesses and organizations need to survive.

What is it like to work in an accounting job?

From natural resource extraction to manufacturing, accountants serve essential financial roles in organizations across all economic sectors. Every organization needs skilled accounting professionals to keep records, maintain budgets, and monitor financial activities. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, new accountant and auditor jobs are projected to grow by nearly 100,000 from 2020 to 2030. Individuals with an accounting degree who wish to work as cost estimators and budget analysts also have positive job prospects.

Professionals in an accounting job interact with managers, executives, and entry-level colleagues to collect, interpret, and report on finances. Accounting professionals work traditional 9-5 business hours, though certain times of the year, like tax season, can be especially busy for accountants. The nature of the field allows for remote and on-site work. 

Accounting career options

Entry-level roles for accountants require an undergraduate accounting degree, while managerial and executive roles necessitate advanced degrees and training. Certified public accountants and accounting managers, for example, benefit from earning an accounting master’s degree.

Accountant

  • Minimum degree level required: Bachelor’s 
  • Salary expectations: $73,560 (median pay)

Accountants record financial information, prepare reports, and maintain regulatory compliance for financial activities. They work with individuals and organizations, use accounting software, and ensure the accuracy of financial statements. Accountants also provide advice and guidance about cost reduction and boosting profits to clients.

The most common types of accountants are financial accountants, managerial accountants, public accountants, and forensic accountants. Additional roles include government accountant, cost accountant, and tax accountant. 

Accounting manager

  • Minimum degree level required: Bachelor’s 
  • Salary expectations: $74,840 (average base salary)

An accounting manager develops and oversees processes for collecting, recording, and assessing financial information. They often supervise entry- and mid-level accountants. Accounting managers work with fellow managers to maintain budgets, identify financial risks and opportunities, and analyze financial data.

Auditor

  • Minimum degree level required: Bachelor’s 
  • Salary expectations: $58,534 (average base salary)

Auditors check the accuracy of business records, financial statements, and comparable documents. They may work within an organization or provide their services as external consultants. Internal auditors determine ways to improve processes and procedures based on organizational needs and standards, while external auditors may be brought in by authorities, investors, or regulators to assess financial documentation.

Bookkeeper

  • Minimum degree level required: Associate degree or certificate 
  • Salary expectations: $42,410 (median pay)

Bookkeepers keep track of financial data using the appropriate software, spreadsheets, and databases. With adept mathematics and data-entry skills, they record expenses and income, ensure accuracy, and prepare reports and statements when needed. Bookkeepers may handle payroll, billing, purchasing, and invoicing. 

Budget analyst

  • Minimum degree level required: Bachelor’s degree
  • Salary expectations: $78,970 (median pay)

By assessing costs and revenue, budget analysts help individuals and organizations develop and implement budgets. They look at past financial data, regulations, and economic projections to recommend funding of goods and services. With an eye toward maximizing profits and securing future financial stability and growth, budget analysts work alongside managers and executives to reconcile discrepancies and make changes, as needed. 

Certified financial planner

  • Minimum degree level required: Bachelor’s 
  • Salary expectations: $64,870 (average base salary)

Financial planners advise individuals on how to spend, save, and invest their money. They analyze financial documents, determine client short- and long-term needs, and make decisions for their customers. Financial planners also keep clients aware of investment opportunities, changes in the market, and potential risks that may arise.  Financial planners may work in an office, meet with their clients at home, or provide services remotely. These professionals usually have a finance background, but individuals with an accounting degree can pivot to this career as well.

Certified public accountant (CPA)

  • Minimum degree level required: Bachelor’s 
  • Salary expectations: $69,900 (average base salary)

In addition to a bachelor’s degree, you need to take 150 credit hours of accounting classes and pass an exam to become a CPA. The exam to become a CPA includes four sections: auditing and attestation, business environment and concepts, financial accounting and reporting, and regulation. After these requirements are met, you must make sure you meet any additional state certification requirements as well.

CPAs handle accounting, tax reporting, and auditing for individuals and organizations. They may specialize in one or several areas, maintain records and reports, and keep abreast of applicable financial regulations.

Chief financial officer

  • Minimum degree level required: Master’s 
  • Salary expectations: $138,790 (average base salary)

As the top financial official in a business or organization, the chief financial officer oversees all financial activity. They work with accounting and finance colleagues to develop and maintain budgets, policies, and procedures. Chief financial officers also coordinate with other managers and executives to keep investors and employees up-to-date on finances. 

Comptroller

  • Minimum degree level required: Bachelor’s 
  • Salary expectations: $70,780 (average base salary)

Comptrollers supervise the quality and consistency of accounting policies and procedures within an organization or agency. They work with accounting managers to ensure adherence to company standards, perform audits, issue budget reports, and determine attainable and reasonable financial goals.  

Cost estimator

  • Minimum degree level required: Bachelor’s 
  • Salary expectations: $66,610 (median pay)

Cost estimators gather and analyze data to determine the resources to manufacture, build, or provide goods and services. They look at the time, materials, labor, and monetary aspects of cost and generally focus on one industry. Cost estimators keep detailed records, issue reports, and work with colleagues to issue and accept applicable bids. 

Finance director

  • Minimum degree level required: Master’s 
  • Salary expectations: $75,000 (average base salary)

Financial directors oversee an organization’s finances. They work with accounting and finance employees to record, collect, and analyze financial information. Financial directors serve as intermediaries between employees and chief executives, interact with investors and stakeholders, and plan budgets using economic forecasts. 

Financial analyst

  • Minimum degree level required: Bachelor’s 
  • Salary expectations: $83,660 (median pay in 2020)

By looking at historical and current financial data, financial analysts provide guidance about money spending and profit opportunities. They assess stocks, bonds, and comparable investments; study trends in the economy; and prepare reports on their findings. They also help determine the overall economic strength of a company or individual’s finances. 

Financial manager

  • Minimum degree level required: Bachelor’s 
  • Salary expectations: $131,180 (median pay in 2020)

Financial managers develop plans for long-term finances based on financial reports, investment performance, and organizational or individual goals. They prepare statements, find ways to reduce costs, identify financial opportunities, and provide guidance about financial decisions. Financial managers may serve as credit managers, cash managers, risk managers, or insurance managers. 

Internal auditor

  • Minimum degree level required: Bachelor’s 
  • Salary expectations: $73,560 (median pay in 2020)

Internal auditors are employed by a company or organization, in contrast to an external auditor who is brought in from the outside. Internal auditors look at finances based on organizational needs, goals, and policies to determine accuracy and adherence to standards and policies determined by their employer. Internal auditors may follow the standards issued by the Institute of Internal Auditors

Real estate appraiser

  • Minimum degree level required: Bachelor’s 
  • Salary expectations: $58,650 (median pay in 2020)

Real estate appraisers determine the value of land and buildings, usually before they are sold. They may specialize in residential or commercial appraisal, reviewing location, view, and previous sales information in their work. Real estate appraisers look at the inside and outside of homes, condominiums, hotels, stores, or other buildings. They identify comparable properties and record their observations.  

Tax consultant

  • Minimum degree level required: Bachelor’s 
  • Salary expectations: $61,900 (average base salary)

Tax consultants provide guidance to clients about tax-related concerns and issues. They may work with individuals or businesses to prepare tax documents. Tax consultants gather appropriate information, organize it into the proper format, ensure legal and regulatory compliance, and review the final result. Many tax consultants are also CPAs.

Tax examiner

  • Minimum degree level required: Bachelor’s 
  • Salary expectations: $55,640 (median pay)

Tax examiners look at individual and small business tax returns with minimal deduction or complicated elements. They identify and resolve problems with the returns, ensure compliance with laws and regulations, and adjust information, as needed. They contact the taxpayer to inform them of any tax amount owed that differs from the initial filing. 

Tax preparer

  • Minimum degree level required: Associate degree or certificate
  • Salary expectations: $47,340 (average base salary)

Depending on the type of taxes a tax preparer handles, you may only need an associate degree or certificate to take on the role. Some tax preparers hold bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Tax preparers help individuals and organizations submit accurate income tax information. They work with tax preparation software, identify and note deductions and exemptions, and ensure accuracy and regulatory compliance. Many tax preparers work seasonally.

This article was reviewed by Lizzette Matos, CPA 

Lizette Matos, a woman with long dark hair, smiles at the camera.

Lizzette Matos is a certified public accountant in New York state. She earned a bachelor of science in finance and accounting from New York University. Matos began her career at Ernst & Young, where she audited a diverse set of companies, primarily in consumer products and media and entertainment. She has worked in the private industry as an accountant for law firms and ITOCHU Corporation, an international conglomerate that manages over 20 subsidiaries and affiliates. Matos stays up to date on changes in the accounting industry through educational courses.

Lizzette Matos is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network. 

Last reviewed on February 13, 2022.

https://www.zdnet.com/education/business-management/accounting-degree-jobs/