accountant walking through her office and thinking about her career

5 Potential Accountant Career Paths

Despite the stereotype that accounting jobs are boring, churn-the-numbers positions, a career path in accounting can be lucrative and exciting. The diversity of job opportunities, ability to learn various accounting skills, and prospect for growth, all within a single organization, make a career in accounting rewarding. Positions can range from entry-level to senior- and managerial-level and can touch on everything from tax accounting and auditing to payroll and budget analysis. With a projected job outlook of a 10% average increase between 2016 and 2026, an accountant career path can also provide stability.

Below are five types of accounting career paths you might take when pursuing a career in accounting. Many paths will require a bachelor’s degree in accounting followed by a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) certification. Sometimes, only an associate’s degree might be required, while in other instances, earning a master’s degree could boost your salary as an accountant.


1. Public Accounting Career Path

Positions in public accounting firms offer a range of opportunities to serve both the private and public sectors. Types of accounting skills and services provided by such firms include auditing financial statements, consulting, financial advising, and bookkeeping. Many public accounting positions will require you to have your CPA or have you sit for the CPA exam within a specific time frame.


accountant at her desk doing calculations and reviewing figures


2. Corporate or Government Accountant Career Path

Working for a corporation or government agency allows for a lot of versatility and potential movement for the accounting career path. Types of accounting positions often found in such organizations include budget analyst, general accountant, staff accountant, payroll clerk, CFO, accounts receivable clerk, accounts payable clerk, collections clerk, comptroller, controller, internal auditor, director of accounting, and financial analyst, to name just a handful of possibilities. In the oil and gas arena, joint venture accountants are in demand and have lucrative salaries.

Many times, an accountant can have a full-cycle career in an organization without ever having to sit for their CPA exam. However, being a CPA might present more opportunities and higher-paid salaries when compared to accountants who are not CPAs.


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3. Accounting Systems Specialist Career Path

With the rise in technology use, accountants are often hired for specialized accounting skills and expertise to support accounting systems. An accounting systems specialist might have to audit accounting information systems, conduct a risk analysis and assessment on information systems, and implement new accounting systems or system improvements. Specialists such as these might also be called in to manage the massive accounting data collection pulled from accounting systems.


accountant showing her coworker financial data on her computer


4. Forensic Services Accountant Career Path

If you’re looking for some intrigue and mystery in your career, then a career in forensic accounting might be a good fit for you. Forensic accountants are called to provide litigation support through expert witness testimonies at trials. They are also enlisted to investigate financial transgression and fraud ranging from employee embezzlement and securities fraud to uncovering hidden assets in divorce cases. Certifications for forensic accounting include the CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner), FCPA (Forensic Certified Public Accountant), and CFF (Certified in Financial Forensics).


5. Tax Accountant Career Path

Though tax accountants also fall under other career path options, it’s worth mentioning this career path separately because it is a specialized area of expertise with several subspecialties and career possibilities. A tax accountant might prepare tax returns for individuals or an organization, aid in tax and estate planning, advise on domestic and international corporate tax strategy, and more. Tax accountants might go into business for themselves, work for a public accounting firm, or work for a company or government agency. To aid in their credibility, a tax accountant might pursue credentials through the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation and register as an IRS Enrolled Agent to represent taxpayers during IRS disputes and audits.


accountant on the phone reviewing data on his laptop


These are just five types of accounting career paths you could take. Other accounting career paths include Cost Accounting, External and Internal Auditing, and Financial Accounting. Regardless of the career path you choose, iHireAccounting offers a dedicated accounting job board by position and state. We are here to help you land the right job for your selected accounting career path.

By iHire | September 17, 2019
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