3 Ways To Use Your Accounting Degree

ways to use your accounting degree

If you are thinking about pursuing an accounting degree, you’ll find there are a wide variety of areas in which to focus your study. What follows will provide information about three general categories of accounting practice. Though this list isn’t exhaustive, it may give you an idea of how many opportunities there are for professional accountants.

1. Forensic Accounting

One of the growing practice areas is the field of forensic accounting, which combines elements of accounting, information technology, and law. A forensic accountant is a specialist who may work for a public accounting firm, investigating fraud allegations for a client, or a law enforcement agency investigating criminals. They are also hired by the FBI to track funding sources or gather evidence in cases involving threats to national security. There are many different forensic accounting jobs available, and the responsibilities often include testifying in a courtroom.

2. Public Accounting

A public accounting firm will typically have two divisions, and most positions in each practice area require a CPA license. Becoming a certified public accountant requires a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance at a minimum, an internship under a licensed CPA and a lengthy licensing exam.

One of the divisions of a public accounting firm handles tax preparation for individuals or companies. Tax accountants must stay up to date on the continually changing tax laws. The other division is the audit team. The auditor’s job is to review their clients’ financial records to assure that they are following generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), and make sure that the financial statements are accurate and fairly represented.

3. Corporate Accounting

In the field of corporate accounting, an executive position generally requires a CPA designation. Some companies will accept an MBA instead, while others may prefer both. With an accounting or finance degree as a foundation and one or both of these designations, you will be a highly qualified candidate for an executive role in any mid-sized or large company. Small companies often outsource their accounting work.

The chief financial officer (CFO), is at the top of the corporate accounting pyramid. As part of the executive team, the CFO is ultimately responsible for all financial matters related to the business. However, he may empower others to make some financial decisions as part of normal daily activities.

A controller usually reports directly to the CFO. The controller’s job is to manage the rest of the accounting staff and ensure that they are adhering to GAAP in all accounting processes. At the end of each accounting period, the controller is responsible for reviewing all financial transactions and preparing the preliminary financial statements. In larger companies, there may be an assistant controller as well, in addition to the staff accountants who perform the daily transaction processing. 

Accounting Is A Growing Field Regardless Of Which Path You Take

Whether in a private or corporate setting, a public accounting firm or a government agency, there are many career opportunities in the field of accounting. Advanced credentials, such as a CPA license or an MBA, will broaden your horizons even further.

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