The field of accounting has a variety of opportunities in both the public and private sectors. Careers in accounting include the preparation and examination of financial records to ensure accuracy and compliance with laws and regulations. Accountants also assess the general financial operations of an organization to optimize efficiency and maximize profit.
Here are 15 popular and lucrative accounting jobs to help you decide where you want to go with your career.
15 Careers in Accounting
Unless otherwise noted, all salary and job information are sourced from PayScale.com and the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS).
Average Annual Salary: $55,900
Tax accountants prepare and submit tax documents for their clients, help plan tax strategies, and provide audit support. They must stay up to date on tax-related government regulations. Typically employed at an accounting or tax preparation firm, tax accountants may serve individual clients or private or public companies. A bachelor’s degree is required for this position.
Average Annual Salary: $55,936
Larger companies employ accountants to manage the financial operations of specific projects. Project accountants oversee and track project budgets and expenses and prepare routine financial reports. They might also produce budget proposals for potential projects. Commonly working at construction and engineering firms, project accountants sometimes visit outdoor job sites. A bachelor’s degree is generally the minimum requirement for this profession.
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Average Annual Salary: $64,040
Typically specializing in a product or industry, cost estimators gather and assess data in order to estimate the time, money, and labor required to complete a project, whether it’s manufacturing a good or providing a service. They provide managers the information needed to secure work at a competitive and reasonable price. For this position, many employers seek candidates with a bachelor’s degree, but some candidates may be hired with a significant amount of work experience in lieu of formal education.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Average Annual Salary: $64,714
Certified public accountants provide clients with financial services, including tax and audit support, and prepare financial documents. CPAs may also perform audit services or guidance to clients to help them refine their bookkeeping methods. Additionally, they must remain current on government financial and tax regulations to ensure their services are compliant. To become a CPA, a bachelor’s degree in accounting is required, though having a master’s degree can prove to be advantageous. CPAs must also have passed the CPA exam and be licensed by their state.
Average Annual Salary: $65,548
Forensic accountants investigate complex financial transactions that are potentially criminal, such as bankruptcies, contract disputes, securities fraud and embezzlement, and other potential white-collar crimes. They analyze financial evidence for banks, insurance companies, and government and law enforcement agencies, but some forensic accountants own their own practices. A bachelor’s degree in accounting is required, and having a certification — such as certified public accountant, certified fraud examiner, certified in financial forensics, or certified internal auditor — is preferred.
Average Annual Salary: $69,408
Accounting managers oversee the daily financial operations of a company, including budgets, expenditures, revenue, and financial reports. They manage the accounting department and the hiring, training, and supervising of accounting staff. Accounting managers create and implement methods for collecting, analyzing, verifying, and reporting financial information, and they produce financial analysis statements, such as cash-flow statements and monthly balance sheets. A bachelor’s degree is required; however, many employers seek candidates with master’s degrees.
Average Annual Salary: $69,711
Asset managers oversee all of their company’s assets. They manage property, data, loans, documents, equipment, and anything else of value to the company. Also, they keep detailed asset records, create status reports, and advise upper-level management on related decisions. Most asset managers are employed in the financial and insurance industries. Though master’s degrees are preferred for this position, a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field is sometimes acceptable.
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Average Annual Salary: $70,500
Auditors analyze financial data for accuracy upon their client’s request. They’re tasked with evaluating tax claims, examining financial records, and reporting their degree of accuracy and compliance with relevant laws. In some legal or corporate situations, auditors are required to testify about their findings. Auditors may be self-employed or work at large corporations, financial firms, or government organizations. A bachelor’s degree in accounting is the minimum requirement, but a master’s degree may be needed for more competitive positions.
Average Annual Salary: $76,220
Budget analysts serve as a financial organizer for public and private institutions. They combine all departmental budgets and evaluate them as one. Budget analysts assess current expenses and recommend budgetary changes to reduce costs. They produce reports and present the information to management and executives. Most budget analysts work for federal, state, or local governments. To enter this career, candidates need a bachelor’s degree.
Financial Controller (Comptroller)
Average Annual Salary: $80,997
Financial controllers manage an organization’s finance-related areas, such as the budget, accounting, and audit departments. They are responsible for routine management, along with producing financial reports, profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and any requested government paperwork. Financial controllers can work in many industries, including banking and insurance. A master’s degree is preferred for this profession, along with the appropriate credentials, such as CPA, certified financial manager, or certified management accountant.
Average Annual Salary: $82,300
Credit analysts evaluate an individual or corporation’s credit history to assess risk and decide if they qualify to receive a loan. They compile financial data and create reports that allow organizations — such as banks, credit unions, and investment management groups — make a final decision about extending credit. Credit analysts may also help individuals improve their credit ratings. A bachelor’s degree and three years of relevant experience are the general requirements for a career as a credit analyst; however, a master’s degree is sometimes preferred.
Average Annual Salary: $85,660
Financial analysts help companies choose wise investments and offer advice about issuing bonds, splitting stock, and other intricate financial matters that are in the company’s best interest. They must fully understand their company’s current financial situation and advise upper management regarding decisions for the future. Financial analysts are highly involved in financial analysis, reporting, and budgeting. A bachelor’s degree is required for this position.
Average Annual Salary: $88,890
Financial advisers help clients achieve their goals by determining their needs and creating appropriate investment strategies. They provide information regarding tax laws related to investment and help clients make sound insurance decisions. Sometimes, financial advisers are known as financial planners. They help clients meet their short-term and long-term financial goals, such as paying for college or retirement. Banks, mutual fund companies, and insurance companies are the top employers of financial advisers. A bachelor’s degree is required, along with relevant licenses. Financial advisers who sell insurance policies must be licensed by their state’s board.
International Tax Manager
Average Annual Salary: $113,440
International tax managers help companies navigate the global economy and ensure compliance with international laws, regulations, and reporting. They’re responsible for preparing and filing tax forms, researching tax regulations, and serving as a liaison between clients and international government agencies. International tax managers typically manage a company department or a specific project. Though a bachelor’s degree is required, a master’s degree and CPA credentials are preferred.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Average Annual Salary: $130,266
CFOs oversee a company’s accounting and finance departments to ensure that they comply with company policies, laws, and regulations. They ensure that the departments operate efficiently while determining ways to reduce costs and maintain the company’s overall image. Generally, CFOs work closely with their company’s other top executives. A bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field is required, but many employers prefer those with a master’s degree and five years of experience in a related occupation.
As the economy continues to grow, the number of available careers in accounting increases. An online bachelor’s or master’s degree in accounting, business, or finance can provide you with the advantage you need to be successful in this lucrative field.