Careers with an Accounting Degree


Many people think of an accounting degree as highly employable. This is generally true, and it's largely because it provides you with the field-specific expertise needed to begin a career as an accountant, or as a business manager.



What an Accounting Program Can Teach You

An accounting program can provide you with the skills necessary to become an entry-level accountant, while also helping you prepare for the pursuit of a professional accounting designation, such as a CPA. This is great news, because a professional designation is necessary to become an accounting specialist and pursue more senior level accounting careers, and of course, a higher salary.


These programs also typically include general business coursework, such as courses in marketing and management. This combination of specific accounting coursework and more general coursework can provide you with a clear understanding of the relationship between accounting other areas of business, such as management issues.



What You Can Do With an Accounting Degree

As an accounting graduate, you may choose to pursue a career in accounting, such as Budget Analyst, Tax Accountant, or Auditor, or you may decide to pursue careers outside of their field, such as in the field of management. With the knowledge, skills and competencies you acquire during your studies, you’ll have no shortage of career options.


So, if you want to know more about where this degree can take you, read on below. This careers guide contains detailed occupational information on career paths relevant to this degree. Included are job descriptions, expected salaries, educational requirements and other pertinent information related to these careers. We’ve also included accounting-specific scholarships to help you pay for school!





Careers Directly Relevant to an Accounting Degree

The knowledge and skills you can gain by studying accounting at the university level serve as an excellent foundation for a variety of careers.


Below, we’ve chosen occupations that we feel relate to this degree, either because the subject matter of the degree relates to the occupational field, or because the skills you’ll need to be an effective employee can be gained in an accounting degree (or diploma) program. This is not an inclusive list by any means:


Account Manager


Accounting Clerk


Administrative Officer



Bank Manager

Bank Teller

Benefits Officer



Budget Analyst

Business Valuator

Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Collections Manager


Compensation and Benefits Coordinator

Compliance Officer

Contract Administrator


Cost Analyst

Cost Estimator


Credit Counselor

Customer Service Representative

Data Analyst

Data Entry Clerk

Development Associate

Electronic Data Processing Auditor

Estate Planner

Financial Advisor

Financial Planner

Fundraising Administrator

Health Care Administrator

International Aid Worker

Inventory Control Specialist

Investment Analyst

Loan Officer


Office Clerk

Payroll Administrator

Payroll Supervisor

Pricing Analyst

Procurement Manager

Project Analyst

Project Manager

Revenue Officer


Small Business Owner

Tax Accountant

Treasury Manager

University Professor


Please Note: Some of the above listed occupations require additional education, training and/or experience. Click on careers that are of interest to you to find out more about the qualifications you’ll need.



Employable Skills of Accounting Graduates

As a result of your studies, you should be armed with the following skills. If you notice any of these are an area of weakness for you, do your best to improve on them. You will need them to succeed in your career:


Analytical Skills: Includes the ability to review many pages of documentation and identify issues, as well as provide recommendations as to how to fix those issues.


Communication Skills: An example is the ability to listen carefully to the needs of instructors and group members. Professionally, this becomes clients, managers, and other stakeholders. You must also be able to communicate the results of your work and recommendations in meetings and in written reports.


Close Attention to Detail: Able to pay attention to detail when compiling and examining documentation, as well as when preparing reports.


Math and Logic Skills: You may not graduate with complex skills in math, but you should have the ability to analyze, compare, and interpret facts and figures, as well as spot discrepancies.


Organizational Skills: If you’re like me, organizational skills may not come easy to you, but hopefully your education in accounting has helped you refine these. If you don’t figure out how to get properly organized, your work can quickly become very inefficient, resulting in mistakes, duplicate work, and ultimately a loss of clientele.


Skills with Accounting Software: By studying accounting, you will become proficient with various software used in the profession, such as tools that help with bookkeeping, tax preparation, and financial statement preparation.



Areas of Employment for Accountants

If you choose not to stray from the field after graduation, and purse a relevant career that's directly relevant to your education, you will be rewarded with your choice of several areas of specialty to choose from, including:


Cost Accounting: Involves analyzing the supply chain to provide budget and cost estimates, as well as inventory analysis and reconciliation. You will also be responsible for tracking, recording and analyzing the costs associated with a company’s products or services.


Forensic Accounting: Involves the design, measuring and monitoring of compliance programs. You will also be responsible for investigating suspected incidents of fraud and financial misconduct.


Financial Accounting: This area of accounting deals with preparing financial information for individuals, companies and other organizations. You will also be responsible for overseeing financial reporting for individuals and organizations.


Financial Auditing: This involves reviewing a company’s financial statements, as well as conducting planning and risk assessments to identify risks associated with audits. You will also be responsible for recommending improvements to accounting and management processes and procedures.


Tax Accounting: Involves helping people and organizations prepare their tax returns. Typically, you can choose to focus on individuals, organizations, or do both! Some clients may require that you help them with developing, implementing and evaluating a tax planning strategy.





Getting a Professional Accounting Designation

Pursuing a professional designation can help provide you with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in a variety of accounting and business careers.


Without certification, you will likely only qualify for entry-level jobs out of school, and mid-level jobs once you’ve gained some experience. With a designation however, you can qualify for almost any job once you’ve earned your credentials. This means you’ll have a greater level of responsibility in your work, and of course, higher pay.


If you’re interested in growing within the field over the long-term, a designation is something you should strongly consider.


Professional Designation Canada

In Canada, there had previously been three main types of professional accounting designations:


• Chartered Accountant (CA)

• Certified General Accountant (CGA)

• Certified Management Accountant (CMA)


These designations have all been merged, into one certification:

• Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA)


All 40 accounting bodies in Canada have either unified, or are participating in discussions to unite under the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) banner. Find out about the status of unification in provinces and territories across Canada by clicking here.  


To earn the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation, Canada’s pre-eminent accounting and business credential, students and candidates must complete relevant practical experience in addition to formal education and the Common Final Examination. To find out more detailed information, please consult the “Becoming a CPA” section of the CPA Canada website


Professional Designation in the United States

In the United States, there is currently one major form of certification in the field of accounting:

• Certified Public Accountant (CPA) - United States


To become a CPA in the United States, you must meet requirements that are set out by your state’s Board of Accountancy, which may differ from state to state.


Almost all states require CPA candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college coursework to be certified, which is 30 hours more than the usual 4-year bachelor’s degree. Many schools offer a 5-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree to meet the 150-hour requirement, but a master’s degree is not required.


Becoming a CPA in the United States also requires passing a national exam and meeting other state requirements, which may include completing a certain number of professional working hours. 


All states use the four-part Uniform CPA Examination from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). CPA candidates do not have to pass all four parts at once, but most states require that they pass all four parts within 18 months of successfully completing their first part.






Typical Starting Salary of Graduates

The salary you could earn as an accounting graduate depends on what career you pursue. For example, if you go on to become a junior level accountant, your earnings may be different, for better or for worse, from what you could earn if you choose to become an account manager for a bank. Other factors that will influence your potential earnings include:


• Your level of education (diploma, bachelor’s, etc.)

• Whether or not you end up working in accounting

• If you achieve a professional designation (such as CPA)

• The amount of work experience you’ve accumulated

• The size and type of your employer

• The industry in which you find work

• The region in which you find work


Success Tip: To get a better idea of what you could earn, click on some of the career fields listed above, in the "Career Guides Related to an Accounting Degree" section. There will be more specific salary information if you search by occupation, rather than by degree.



Gain Career Experience Before You Graduate

It can be difficult to get a job without experience once you’ve graduated. Working in an internship, co-op or practicum position is the best way to gain experience for accounting careers while you are still a student. In addition to adding to your resume, these types of work-experience programs have many benefits:


Meeting other people who share professional accounting interest

Meeting other individuals who share a passion for accounting and are working in the field is one major benefit of a work-experience position. You can see them operate on daily basis, you can ask them what it is they like about what they do, you can learn how they got where they, and you can get idea of the dynamics of the environment they work in.


For example, if you intern with a construction equipment company in the accounting and finance department, you may be surprised to find out how closely the controller works with managers of other departments, such as sales and marketing.


Strengthening your resolve to pursue an accounting or business career

Being exposed to the work environment of an accounting professional may confirm your suspicions of finding intellectual, professional and emotional fulfillment in the field. If this is the case, you may find yourself more determined to succeed than ever before.


Getting your foot in the door with an organization

Making a good impression with an organization during an internship, work experience or co-op position will almost certainly open the door to a job with that company upon graduation.


If you’ve done quality work and made a good impression, chances are that organization will want to retain you on a full-time basis once you’ve graduated. They will already be familiar with you and your work ethic, and they will save a great deal of time and expense trying to recruit someone else.



How Do I Find an Internship?

Your college or university may or may not require you to participate in an internship or other form of work experience program. If it is an academic requirement, you will likely have the opportunity arranged for you.


If it is not a requirement, speak with your professors, other Accounting department staff as well as your school’s guidance and career counselors to help you find a suitable opportunity.


Please Note: If seeking an internship from an outside source, be cautious, as many internship opportunities operate in the grey area of employment law, and are designed to use students as free labour in order to perform mundane tasks. 



Relevant Scholarships

If you’re an accounting major looking for help in paying for school, then you’re in luck! Our scholarships database has Canadian and American scholarships that are specific to accounting, as well as scholarships that are open to any field of study.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any and all scholarships for which you qualify, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships in Canada and the United States that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants.



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