What can you do with an accounting degree? Come on, it should be what can’t you do with an accounting degree?
Accountants are one of the most highly demanded positions by employers. Think about it. Every business exists to make a profit, every business has to pay tax, every business needs to know how much they've spent…so it makes sense that every business needs to perform some type of accounting function.
But every business isn’t the same, and this is why the diverse nature of accounting makes it such an attractive career choice.
To illustrate the point, we’ve come up with the top 15 things you can do with an accounting degree.
So let’s start the countdown!
15. Become a Bookkeeper
A bookkeeper generally doesn’t have the level of qualifications and skills an accountant does, and performs less complex tasks. But this doesn’t mean they’re any less important. Many small and family businesses either don’t need or can’t afford an accountant, and the nature of their requirements means a bookkeeper is adequate.
14. Check out audit
Do you have an eye for detail? If so, external auditing could be for you and is a great way to start your career. It gives you exposure to a potentially wide range of businesses, and ensures you develop a good understanding of the technical aspects of accounting and financial reporting.
13. Another type of audit
The other type of auditing is internal auditing. Instead of checking financial statements, this type of auditing involves checking business’s processes and procedures. Internal auditing is a great introduction to the world of accounting because it exposes you to important concepts such as internal controls, risk management and process improvement.
12. Taxing times
If you’re interested in the legal aspects of things, tax is an area of accounting that probably has the most exposure to legal principles. In fact, many tax experts are also qualified lawyers. Just be aware of one thing if you choose to become a tax accountant: people will always be asking you for advice on their tax returns!
11. Start an investigation
Forensic accounting is one of the newer areas of the profession, but has become increasingly important as technology becomes more and more prevalent. The role of the forensic accountant is similar to other occupations with forensic in their title: to search through the detail for clues and solve the mystery! Except instead of dusting for fingerprints, it’s usually more likely to be something like trawling through computer records…
10. Close the deal
If you fancy yourself as a bit of a “wheeler dealer”, then the world of corporate finance could be for you. These types of accountants facilitate transactions such as capital raisings and mergers and acquisitions. Some large transactions can take years and millions of dollars in accounting fees to complete. Big bucks are a real possibility here. But the commitment is huge. Really huge.
9. Give some advice
Many accountants make good management consultants because their training teaches them techniques to quickly and effectively understand a business and its drivers and issues. Management consultants are used in a range of areas such as to help with strategy, improve processes, or enable better measurement of performance to name a few.
8. Prosper during bad times
It is often said that when the economy is experiencing a downturn, insolvency practitioners start rubbing their hands together with glee. Morbid as it sounds, they make their living out of companies going out of business. It’s not for everyone, but as you can imagine there’s generally never a shortage of work!
7. A nice partnership
Progressing through the ranks in an accounting firm may give you the opportunity to become a partner in the firm which may involve purchasing some equity (shares). Keep in mind that with progression comes ever-increasing expectations to keep generating fees – so the higher up you go, the more you need to like selling your services to clients. Are you a sales person at heart?
6. Pick an industry
Rather than going to work in a professional accounting practice, many accountants choose to work as financial or managerial accountants in industry. These roles are responsible for preparing and analyzing reports, and are integral to the ability of a business to make decisions and comply with legislative requirements. You could end up with detailed knowledge of an industry you never dreamed you’d be involved with.
5. Attain control
Once you've earned your stripes as an accountant in industry, the opportunities to progress into new and varied roles really open up. Becoming a financial controller means you are responsible for a team of accountants (depending on the size of the business), and you may also look after functions such as accounts payable, accounts receivable and payroll.
4. Become the chief
The top accounting position in most businesses is the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Many CFOs go on to become their company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), mainly due to the fact that as an accountant they have been involved with most of its important transactions and events, and therefore know the business better than anyone.
3. A sustainable approach
As the concept of sustainability rises to the top of the agenda for most Boards, there is an increasingly high demand for accounting related sustainability services. These include aspects such as carbon tax impacts, assurance over sustainability reports, and governance issues. If you’re a prospective accountant with a passion for the environment, why not mix the two for a living and get into Environmental Accounting?
2. Government stability
There is plenty of demand for governmental accountants at all the various levels. Aside from working as a financial or management accountant in a government department, there are positions that may have more of a compliance or policy setting focus. Check out roles in agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service or Securities and Exchange Commission for something a bit different.
And the number one thing you can do with an accounting degree is…
1. Do it for yourself
It is many people’s dream to run their own business, and accountants are perfectly positioned to do just that. They have financial discipline, commercial acumen and a solid understanding of processes and controls. So if you’re an accountant with a great business idea, chances are that it’s more likely your business will succeed!
As you can see, a career as an accountant offers a huge choice of work that is bound to appeal to virtually anyone. Some areas more glamorous, other more challenging, but all use the foundations of an accounting degree to achieve their purpose.
Are you still asking what can you do with an accounting degree?