Accountants are a vital part of most businesses – after all, few things are more important than keeping track of funds! While accountants often have a reputation for being “bean counters,” the truth is that an online Accounting degree can open an impressively wide series of positions for you. Here are some of the most exciting careers for accountants.
The heart of it all is the traditional Accountant career. The main task in this position is keeping a close eye on the financial records of a company. This includes doing the bookkeeping, preparing everything for taxes, and performing financial audits on anything that seems suspicious.
This career path has a host of opportunities because almost every organization that uses money needs an accountant. You could find yourself working with corporations, educators, hospitals, government, military personnel, nonprofits, and other areas. If you prefer more freedom with your time, you can also work as an independent accountant.
If you want to be an accountant, then aside from getting your online Accounting degree, you’ll need to get registered as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). In most areas, you’ll need to have professional experience as an Accountant before you can become a CPA, so you’ll probably want to join up with a larger firm until you meet the local requirements.
Most accountants work under a supervisor. If you’d like to be that supervisor, expect to need a graduate degree and at least several years of experience.
Do you enjoy investigations and mysteries? If so, getting an online Accounting degree with a focus on becoming a Certified Internal Auditor could be the right choice. The acronym is fun, too.
This position involves a variety of tasks, but the most critical job is analyzing financial records for accuracy and signs of mismanagement. Most people who commit fraud or try to steal from a company leave a trail, and you’ll find and uncover even the smallest clues.
Other significant tasks include things like keeping an eye on trends within the industry, monitoring the revenue and expenditures of the company, finding ways to make the flow of money more efficient, and creating recommendations for financial planning.
Some CIA’s work on the technology angle, checking financial records and monitoring cybersecurity. A second online degree with relevant Computer Science courses can be a powerful aid here.
The position of Certified Internal Auditor is an important one. All accounting jobs are essential to and valued by companies, but this role is particularly important because it places you in the position of investigator. The leadership of the company will rely on you to detect problems, so you’ll need to cultivate trust on a daily basis.
You don’t need to be qualified as a Certified Public Accountant to get a job as a CIA, but most companies prefer the added qualifications (because it involves passing multiple tough exams). You may want to register with a group like The Institute Of Internal Auditors, which can provide additional training to help you land the job.
Budget Analysts are more focused than the two careers above. This position places particular importance on the correlation between the goals of a project and what the company can afford to spend on it. In another sense, budget analysts help to keep the finances of the company organized and provide the maximum return on each investment.
Aside from making sure everything lines up, Budget Analysts are usually responsible for preparing budget reports and keeping an eye on spending by the various departments within the company.
Local, state, and federal government offices use Budget Analysts. If you’d like to aim for one of these positions, you’ll need both your first online Accounting degree and the Certified Government Financial Management credential, which is offered by the Association of Government Accountants.
This is a number-oriented job, and you’ll need strong analytical, numerical, and accounting talent to perform well. Even after landing the position, you may receive as much as a year of supervised training in the position. Budget Analysts are expected to produce perfect reports every time, and companies don’t joke around with that.
However, you may occasionally have a little creative freedom. Budget Analysts rarely have the final say on budgets, but managers will often turn to you for help and advice. If you keep a running list of areas where money can move from, you can have a surprising amount of control over the company’s finances.
That’s right; an online Accounting degree can put you on the path towards the C-Suite. You won’t get there overnight, though. Most people need at least ten years of experience in increasingly essential positions before they’ll get hired for this coveted spot.
As a Chief Financial Officer, your primary role is to advise the board of directors and the Chief Executive Officer about financial transactions and activities that will affect the company. This requires a strong understanding of investing, taxes, standard financial operations, modern accounting systems, and general business skills.
You’ll also be responsible for things like establishing annual financial objectives for the company, managing the budget-planning office, building relationships, and developing top-level initiatives. This is a social position, and you’ll need to work well with many different people while under pressure.
At some point, before you get this job, you’ll need to earn a Master’s Degree in a relevant field. You can continue to focus on Accounting, but it’s also acceptable to look into Investing, Finance, Auditing, and Tax-related degrees. Expect to take more than a few math courses (particularly in areas like Statistics), so you’ll have a better understanding of the numbers you’re looking at.
While you don’t have to keep studying once you reach this position, most CFO’s are encouraged to join one or more professional organizations and maintain their skills. This is an end-of-career position, and while you may work for different companies, you probably won’t rise any higher than this before you retire.
No, we didn’t spell that wrong. Comptrollers are overseers who manage financial departments and work at the right hand of the company’s Chief Financial Officer. This is an extraordinarily influential position because as the chief accountant for a business or government office, you are ultimately responsible for the inflow and outflow of money.
Comptrollers perform audits, monitor financial transactions, help analyze budgets, do payroll for employees, and in many cases are responsible for paying bills and sending out invoices. You may not do all of these things directly unless you’re in a small office – but you will review them as the accountants under you continue working.
You’ll also provide information on topics like acquisitions, and you’ll prepare the financial statements of the company when it’s time to report to investors and other relevant parties. At times, you’ll analyze the company’s spending habits to identify waste and ensure the business remains on the path to prosperity.
As you can see from all the things you’ll be doing, Comptrollers need to understand a wide variety of concepts and perform their duties on tight deadlines. This is where the management aspect comes in – after all, a great leader knows how to do things by knowing who can do them, and smart delegation is the real trick to success.
Several of the other careers on this list involve auditing and checking for problems, but none of them – not even the Certified Internal Auditor – are as focused on that as a Forensic Accountant. In this role, your job isn’t to decide whether Tom spent too much of the company’s money on coffee while on a business trip to Europe. Instead, your task is to uncover evidence of white-collar crimes.
This field has become increasingly popular in recent years as corporations have become aware of problems with financial discrepancies. Despite the implications of the description, you’re not responsible for determining whether fraud happened. Instead, your primary role focuses on creating a complete financial record of who, what, where, why, and how people spent money.
You may be asked to do things like trace where funds came from and went, identify the assets of a specific group, prepare reports, and present your findings in an official setting. Forensic Accountants are often called to testify in courts as experts on financial crimes.
This is an important position with no margin for error, so expect to continue your education until you get a Master’s degree. You can expect to take classes in Accounting early on, but you’ll also need to take courses in fields like Business, Law, and Fraud Auditing. By knowing what things should look like, you’ll be in a better position to spot problems.
Some companies encourage Forensic Accountants to get certified as a fraud examiner or public accountant. This is rarely necessary, but it will help to cement your reputation as someone who knows what to look for.