What Can I Do with an Accounting Degree Besides Accounting?
If you’re passionate about money management, budgeting and strategic financial planning, an accounting degree could give you the skills you need to kick start a rewarding financial career.
While many accounting degree holders find work as certified accountants and analysts, similar professions are also available across many industries. The analytical and critical thinking skills gained in an accounting program can help prepare you for more careers than you might think.
“Through the advancement of auditing software, many of the functions of an accountant have been made more efficient, which allows for more opportunity in interpretation and analysis,” said Keely Griffith, adjunct instructor in business programs at Southern New Hampshire University. “This increases the value of an accounting education, as communication and analytical skills are emphasized more heavily.”
What Will I Learn in an Accounting Degree Program?
By earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting, you can build a strong foundation of business knowledge applicable to many different career paths.
You can learn how to analyze and apply financial rules and regulations, generate financial records and communicate these reports with internal and external stakeholders. You may also gain valuable experience in business strategy, risk management, information systems, quantitative analysis and business ethics.
The degree can also help you explore the current business landscape and develop analytical, critical thinking and strong communication skills to prepare you for a variety of jobs for accounting majors, from financial planning and consulting to budget management and data analysis.
What To Do with an Accounting Degree
Advancing your education can prepare you to enter the fast-growing financial world. Explore the jobs below to learn more about these alternative careers for accountants:
- Financial Examiner: With a career as a financial examiner, you’ll help ensure compliance with laws governing financial institutions and lending practices, evaluating the health of financial institutions and protecting consumers from risky loans. Financial examiners earned a median of $81,430 in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Almost 5,000 new financial compliance jobs are projected to be created by 2029 as financial institutions work to comply with changing regulations, BLS reported.
- Financial Analyst: If you want to become a financial analyst, you can expect to work with individuals and organizations to make strategic decisions based on shareholder interests, stock viability, growth expectations, competition and more. Financial analysts earned a median of $83,660 in 2020, according to BLS data. Working as a financial analyst can also offer job growth. BLS predicts analyst jobs will grow by 5% by 2029 as big data and technological advances make higher quality analysis possible.
- Finance Manager: With a finance manager job, you’ll be responsible for the overall financial health of an organization, directing investment activities, reviewing financial performance and overseeing long-term financial planning. Finance managers earned a median of $134,180 in 2020, according to BLS data, and are in high demand, with a more than 15% job growth (or 108,100 jobs) expected by 2029.
- Budget Analyst: With a career in budget analysis, you can help organizations and businesses organize their finances, prepare budgets and monitor spending. In 2020, budget analysts earned a median of $78,970, and the position is projected to grow about 3% by 2029, according to BLS data.
- Business and Financial Consultant: A degree in accounting can give you the skills you need to work as a business and financial consultant, helping entrepreneurs and small business owners find financial success. As a business consultant, you can help other business owners manage start-up costs and investments, create a financial plan for their business and monitor day-to-day bookkeeping. According to Payscale, business consultants earn an average of $75,252 each year.
Is an Accounting Degree Worth It?
Whether your goal is to become a financial accountant, managerial accountant or you’re interested in alternative careers for accountants, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree to start your career in the financial world.
Wondering if a master's degree in accounting is worth it? If you're interested in a particular facet of accounting and finance and want to boost your overall expertise, going on to earn a master's degree in accounting will let you dive deeper into an area of specialization when you select a concentration in forensic accounting, auditing or taxation.
It is important to make the most of your education through considering your career goals and interests, said Griffith. Getting an internship, taking relevant electives – such as finance, financial planning and economics – and developing soft skills like communication, data analysis and problem-solving can help set an applicant apart when entering these high-demand financial careers.
“Accountants can no longer just number crunch and perform calculations,” Griffith said. “They must understand and effectively communicate the data story. Employers want to see that you have the technical skills, strategic mindset and the ability to communicate proficiently to various stakeholders.”
Danielle Gagnon is a freelance writer focused on higher education. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
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