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Career Opportunities After Master of Professional Accounting

Last Updated on November 28, 2022 by Omoyeni Adeniyi

Where do you go to find a job? In the last few years, many students have used LinkedIn to look for employers and new job opportunities. Posting an impressive profile enables you to come across as competent, honest, loyal, and ambitious.

Collegelearners affords a plethora of information on jobs for accountants who dont want to be accountants, jobs for accounting graduates, career fields in accounting and so much more. Ensure you peruse through our catalogue for relevant information on similar topics.

Career Opportunities in Accounting Profession

7 High Paying Jobs That Could Be Yours With a Master’s In Accounting

Are you interested in pursuing a career in accounting? Accounting jobs are projected to grow 10 percent by 2026. University of Illinois’ online Master of Science in Accounting (iMSA) is your entry into a world of high paying accounting jobs. The iMSA is ranked in the top three accounting programs in the US and is taught by some of the best faculty in the world.

Through the iMSA, you’ll get hands-on practical experience, learn cutting-edge analytics, and be qualified to pursue a number of jobs in the field.  Here’s a list of seven high paying accounting jobs that could be yours after earning your Master’s in Accounting:

1. Auditor

An auditor is someone who inspects a company’s financial records and checks for accuracy and reliability. The role of an auditor can vary depending on the company or the type of auditor – internal, external, government, and forensic. Responsibilities of an auditor can include: ensuring taxes are properly filed, organizing and examining financial statements to comply with laws, and making best-practice recommendations to management.

Average Salary: $58,083*

2. Information and Technology Accountant

Careers in technology and accounting are increasing! As an information and technology accountant, you are responsible for which system your company uses to organize and report financial data. This role requires knowledge in both accounting and information technology and is perfect for someone who is a natural problem solver and interested in identifying technology solutions.

Average Salary: $76,146*

3. Financial Analyst

A financial analyst is someone who assesses the financial health of a business and helps guide investment decisions. Specific financial analyst duties can vary depending on the company, and as a result, this role is much more flexible when compared to many other accounting jobs. This role is right for you if you’re interested in data gathering, financial modeling, spreadsheet maintenance, developing investment theses, communicating with investors and management, and forecasting.

Average Salary: $77,280*

4. Forensic Accountant

Forensic Accounting is one of the fastest growing jobs in law enforcement. It is the practice of investigating fraud and using accounting skills like auditing to provide an expert opinion on legal matters in a court of law. Forensic Accountants must be extremely detail oriented as their reports will be scrutinized in court by judges, attorneys, and juries.

Average Salary: $80,066*

5. Managerial Accountant

A managerial accountant is in charge of planning and preparing financial reports for internal employees. Their main goal is to help high-level executives make informed and financially responsible decisions. Some tasks include adapting operation and cost-based planning, forecasting, overseeing the product process, incremental costing, and enterprise optimization. The iMSA’s curriculum will prepare you for this role by allowing you to role-play as a manager and analyze costs and profits with information management tools.

Average Salary: $83,240*

6. Corporate Controller

A corporate controller supervises an accounting department at a company and oversees high-level financial strategies.  The main duties of a controller are maintaining financial statements, payroll, preparing budgets, general ledger, tax compliance, and more. Gaining experience in business forecasting and tax management is critical if you want to become a corporate controller.  

Average Salary: $130,226*

7. Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

While the responsibilities of a CFO vary depending on the company, there are a few key areas in which all CFO’s should excel: financial management, performance, business strategy, and risk management. CFO’s are good cross-functional leaders and help a company make informed financial and business decisions. They implement revenue strategies, access financial risks and opportunities, and so much more. Many top earning CFOs have multiple credentials, so it’s important to consider getting your CPA, MSA or iMBA, if your career goal is to become a CFO.

Average Salary: $321,645*

Take the Financial Reporting or U.S. Federal Taxation Specialization and earn a career credential, if you are accepted to the full Master’s program, your credit counts towards your degree.

career fields in accounting

Many career opportunities are available in accounting. The importance of the accounting function continues to be enhanced in a complex, global business community. Increased scrutiny of company financial reporting and new regulations, such as those implemented with the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, have resulted in intense need for qualified, highly technical accounting staffs in corporations, accounting firms, and governmental agencies.

Accounting positions range from bookkeeping clerks who maintain financial data in computer and paper form to chief financial officers who are responsible for providing leadership in the design and operations of a total accounting information system and the financial statements it produces. Opportunities for employment are present for those with basic accounting/computer skills acquired in secondary schools or community colleges as well as for those with college degrees and postgraduate degrees.

OVERVIEW OF ACCOUNTING AS AN OCCUPATIONAL FIELD

The U.S. Department of Labor identifies accounting essentially at two levels. At the “executive, administrative, and managerial” occupational level, accountants and auditors are included. Under “bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks,” positions are available to those who have completed secondary school or community college programs and have some training and interest in working with financial records.

Persons employed in accounting are generally expected to have strong computer, analytical, interpersonal, and communications skills in addition to sound knowledge in accounting related to the level of the position.

In general, according to Department of Labor projection, the rate of growth of employment for accountants with college degrees or master’s degrees was expected to be about the same as the average for all other occupations through the year 2012.

The impact of computer technology will continue to change the nature of demand for employees in accounting who have less than college preparation. The projection of the Department of Labor for this category of accounting and bookkeeping workers was that growth would be slower than average in overall employment, but job opportunities were expected to be numerous because of high turnover of individuals in this category.

Accounting is a field that is appealing to individuals who enjoy working with figures and who appreciate the need for impeccable accuracy and careful adherence to policies and schedules. Accountants must be computer-savvy. Thus, individuals who enjoy the challenge of the continuing need to learn new software and new work procedures find the field of interest. Those who become certified must continue to be learners, since renewal of licenses requires continuing professional education. Accountants who are not certified also enroll in a range of in-company and other types of programs to upgrade their skills and knowledge to be able to handle emerging responsibilities.

Accountants must be individuals of high integrity so that the financial information they prepare is viewed as trustworthy by the users of the information. Accountants who are certified are expected to adhere to professional codes of ethics. These codes impose rules and regulations that are meant to encourage behavior in relation to their work that maintains the credibility of financial reporting, both within and outside the organization.

CAREERS FOR CERTIFIED ACCOUNTANTS

Professional accounting positions that require at least an undergraduate college degree and certification are certified public accountant (CPA), certified management accountant, certified internal auditor, and the certified government financial manager.

Accountants in Public Accounting Firms

Accountants who plan to complete the CPA examination and meet certification requirements, as well as those who hold the CPA certificate, are likely to begin employment in a public accounting firm as a staff accountant. Some states in the United States require experience in auditing for certification. While public accounting firms hire recent graduates of college programs for beginning positions, such firms expect new employees to have taken the examination or be planning to sit for it. While many CPAs leave public accounting to enter other positions in all types of organizations, some remain in public accounting.

The promotional opportunities in public accounting for CPAs are related to level of responsibility. Successful staff accountants become seniors; seniors become managers; a limited number of managers become partners. In many public accounting firms, there are additional levels for all of these categories.

In addition to accounting and auditing, public accounting firms provide other services, such as tax advisement and management consulting. Some CPAs choose to move to other services after they gain experience in accounting and auditing. Others decide to establish their own firms; in 2002, for example, 10 percent of accountants were self-employed. Many choose to work in other types of positions after gaining certification and experience. Many accept positions in corporations, not-for-profit entities, and government agencies, where promotional opportunities include both accounting and nonaccounting responsibilities. Some accountants become chief executive officers in corporations or other types of organizations.

Accountants in Organizations

The range of positions for accountants in organizations is extensive. Accountants are employed in corporate reporting, in controllers’ offices, and in budget and strategic planning departments. Certification is provided for management accountants through the Institute of Management Accountants. To be a certified management accountant (CMA), a candidate must successfully complete a comprehensive examination that includes accounting and related topics relevant to the broad responsibilities assumed by management accountants. Work experience in some aspect of management accounting before a candidate is certified is required. CMAs have many promotional opportunities in organizations. They are identified for leadership positions, in much the same way as CPAs, at executive levels of their own and other organizations.

Accountants as Internal Auditors

Some accountants choose to work as internal auditors. The Institute of Internal Auditors provides a certification program for candidates who seek to be certified internal auditors (CIA). Certification requires experience as an internal auditor. In many organizations, especially large ones, there is a separate department of internal audit that provides valuable oversight of the total organization. Internal auditors who are certified are expected to adhere to the professional standards as they perform their responsibilities. CIAs have promotional opportunities in internal auditing through moving into managerial positions within the department or moving to operational units where they assume supervisory and executive responsibilities.

Government Accountants

The most common certification for government accountants is that provided by the Association of Government Accountants. An examination and relevant experience are required. The designation achieved by a successful candidate is certified government financial manager. Government accountants are employed throughout the public sector, at federal, state, and local levels.

CAREERS FOR ACCOUNTANTS WITHOUT CERTIFICATION

There are more accountants in the United States who are not certified than there are those who are certified. Of the 1.1 million workers classified as accountants and auditors in the United States in 2002, it was estimated that fewer than half were certified. Individuals who have studied accounting at the community college, business college, or university level are employed in beginning accounting positions. Through on-the-job training and experience, many of these individuals move into higher-level positions.

Many individuals who study in accounting programs in universities choose not to be certified. Others study some accounting as an elective program and then enter a beginning accounting position, such as staff accountant.

Many promotional opportunities are available to accountants. Technical skills and managerial skills are both important if an individual aspires to higher-level positions. Employees who are knowledgeable about accounting and continue to learn as new accounting rules and interpretations are introduced by professional bodies are invaluable to employers. Such knowledge, however, must be accompanied by strong organizational and inter-personal skills if promotional opportunities are to be realized. Some commonly identified positions for persons who have studied accounting at the college level are listed in Table 1.

CHANGING REQUIREMENTS FOR ACCOUNTANTS AND AUDITORS

The basic education requirements for those who aspire to be CPAs have been increased in most U.S. jurisdictions (the 50 states, Guam, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands). As of the end of 2003, there

Illustrative jobs which generally require college studies in accounting
Note: In some instances, persons with less than a college diploma have sufficient experience to be hired for some of these positions.

were forty-four states and the District of Columbia that required CPA candidates to complete 150 semester credits of college coursework. This requirement adds thirty credits to the usual four-year college program in accounting. Many of the remaining jurisdictions were considering adopting legislation requiring 150 credits, to be effective no later than August 2009. There are many significant differences among the jurisdictions related to both education and experience. The Web sites of the accountancy boards of each jurisdiction provide useful information about requirements.

Knowledge of accounting and auditing continues to be critical to handling job responsibilities. Such knowledge alone, however, is not sufficient. Accountants are expected to have advanced competencies in handling a variety of accounting and auditing software and in designing accounting information systems. Furthermore, accountants and auditors are expected to strategically analyze, interpret, and assess the information from the systems they develop and implement.

Jobs which generally do not require college studies in accounting
Accounting assistant
Accounting clerk
Accounts Payable assistant
Accounts Payable clerk
Accounts Receivable assistant
Accounts Receivabel clerk
Bookkeeper
Cost Accounting clerk
Payroll clerk

Because of the growing complexity of business, specializations have been established within accounting and auditing. For example, auditors who have studied and gained considerable experience in financial services, or in a critical aspect, such as acquisitions and mergers or pensions, are in demand in service firms that provide consulting services. Specializations in the accounting for industries, such as retailing, entertainment, insurance, gas and oil, or consumer products, often provide promotional opportunities.

CAREERS IN ACCOUNTING THAT DO NOT REQUIRE A COLLEGE DEGREE

As noted before, there are positions in accounting that are identified by the U.S. Department of Labor as requiring less than a college degree. A variety of positions identified by the Labor Department as financial clerks, including those classified as bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, are needed in all types of organizations; in 2002 there were 3.7 million such clerks. The outlook for employment (to 2012) is that virtually all job openings will be related to replacement of individuals who have left positions. There is high turnover in this category of workers as workers move to other types of positions, including ones that represent promotions. Therefore, there are opportunities for those wishing to enter such positions.

Most positions require a high school diploma and exist in virtually every industry in the United States. Such workers are expected to know basic computer software programs. Most U.S. comprehensive and career-technical high schools offer courses in accounting and in computer software applications. Also, proprietary business colleges as well as junior and community colleges have programs that prepare students with the basic knowledge and skills needed in many beginning accounting positions. Many employers provide training on the job for the specific applications that new employees need to understand and use. Many employers provide training when there are software or system changes in the accounting information system. All levels of government, from local to federal, have many opportunities in the field of accounting for individuals who have earned a secondary education diploma.

The key task of accounting-related clerks is to maintain financial records. Such workers compute, classify, process, and verify numerical data. In large as well as mid-size businesses, for example, there are departments that handle accounts payable, accounts receivable, and cash. For such departments, companies seek employees who have a basic understanding of accounting principles, possess an organized style of work, and can handle communications with vendors (in accounts payable), customers (in accounts receivable), or personnel in human resources (benefits, pensions). Ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines is also important in some positions. Entry-level workers are generally responsible for handling the details of transactions and for preparing schedules that show the results of processing transactions. The activities for which entry-level employees are responsible, if done with thought and attention, provide a means of learning a great deal about the organization’s activities and about proper work habits.

Promotional opportunities are available in many organizations. Individuals who continue their education on a part-time basis and who display maturity and wisdom in their associations with coworkers are considered good candidates for supervisory positions. Responsible, dependable managers often began as clerks but were willing to continue to learn not only all aspects of their jobs but also the total work of the organization in relation to the accounting function. Some common job titles for positions available to persons without college study of accounting are shown in Table 2.

CAREERS IN ACCOUNTING RELATED TO DOCTORAL DEGREES

University programs that lead to doctoral degrees in accounting produce graduates who find employment in college teaching and in technical positions in public accounting firms, professional standard-setting organizations, and other organizations in which high-level expertise is in demand. Some such specializations in this area include accounting theory, accounting systems design, and accounting policy.

Opportunities for accountants with doctorates reflect the need for accountants to have leading-edge vision in a rapidly changing global business environment. Advanced studies leading to a doctorate will provide individuals with theoretical understanding so that they can devise new principles to ensure the relevance of financial information that is reported to shareholders and others. Advanced studies will also train individuals who will be able to design the effective and efficient accounting information systems needed in business and government.

SPECIALIZATIONS IDENTIFIED BY ORGANIZATIONS

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants provides specialized certificates in accredited in business valuation and for the positions of information technology professional and personal financial specialist. These certificate programs require that individuals have CPA certificates.

Other initiatives in the United States relate to environmental accounting, forensic accounting, international accounting, and fraud accounting. Organizations with missions related to a specialization are active in establishing standards to guide practitioners who choose to participate in the field.

jobs for accountants who dont want to be accountants

The above profiles list out some of the jobs for CPAs outside of accounting that offer salaries that are commensurate with working strictly as an accountant. However, there are plenty of jobs that offer a career change for accountants that may not pay the same salaries, but offer the satisfaction of working in a field that needs help and benefits from the hiring of a skilled professional. Hospitals, not-for-profits, community organizations, even law enforcement, are all good jobs for CPAs outside of accounting. The overall goal of a career change from accounting is to lower ones stress levels, find a better work-life balance, and recover from the effects of burnout. 

Accounting is something that all businesses require as part of their day-to-day operations. In turn, that opens up opportunities that you might not otherwise have considered, and you can usually find a job that is in line with your other aptitudes while also accommodating your accounting education. For example: you’re interested in helping bring criminals to justice, but you decided not to go into the field of law enforcement. Your accounting degree and experience is valuable to law enforcement operations that use accountancy to uncover criminal operations. Alternatively, you want to become an entrepreneur, or you become aware of a small business that needs guidance from an accountant. Your accounting skills can open the doors to either of these opportunities, enabling you to build more layers of experience that benefit you in the long run. 

Some of the fields that benefit from the knowledge of an accountant range from financial institutions to law enforcement. An accountant can transition to just about any role that requires someone with the ability to create financial reports, analyze financial data, find discrepancies in reporting, monitor accounts receivables and payables, handle payroll, and have a solid understanding of tax laws. However, these roles don’t have to be strictly related to accounting so much as they have accounting duties as part of their description. An accountant can still exercise their accounting skills and knowledge, but not be subject to the pressures of working in an accounting role. The opportunity to expand into other careers while maintaining one’s education in accounting can be exciting, interesting, and rewarding.

Should I Quit Accounting?

Should you quit accounting? Only you can answer that question definitively. Chances are good that you’re asking this question because you’ve reached a point where you’ve had enough, but you’re not sure of the short or long-term effects on your ability to work as an accountant, much less your career options. In the event that the pressures of the job have you questioning your work-life balance and your peace of mind, then yes, quitting the field of accounting is beneficial for your physical and mental health. There is nothing wrong with quitting the career field, nor is there any shame in making a decision to preserve your own well-being. However, you did put in a lot of work to earn your degree and enter into a field that offers steady employment, and that’s something you need to take into consideration when considering quitting the field.

An accountant should do their due diligence before deciding on a career change. Some roles, such as a financial analyst or working for a law enforcement agency, may require the accountant to go back to school to earn a certificate or associate degree that’s relevant to the field they’re looking to get into. Sometimes an employer wants to hire an accountant to get the job done, but having baseline knowledge in the chosen career can be of great assistance in terms of getting employed in a role that’s not strictly based in accounting. After all, you don’t want to leave a field that’s burned you out only to wind up being hired to do the same type of work. 

Making a career transition into an accounting-related field helps you maintain your accounting skills while giving you a fresh set of challenges that aren’t as likely to burn you out. You get the opportunity to build upon your existing knowledge in a different career field and leave behind the strain of a field that pushes individuals to their limits. Ultimately, you’ll always be able to find employment as an accountant if your career change doesn’t work out, but it’s best to keep that as a back-up option instead of a plan. There are plenty of career opportunities that welcome accounting skills, and you don’t necessarily have to go back to accounting if you don’t want to.