Careers in Accounting

Careers in Accounting

A person pursuing a career as an accountant can choose from various areas, jobs or tasks in the accounting profession. The diversity of the accounting profession makes it easier for an accountant to find and fill a job. By itself, it seldom happens that an accountant runs out of job opportunity or client.

If you find the right career in accounting which you can work best at, your will have a promising and fulfilling accounting profession or business. On the other hand, if you are a business owner or someone who just want to understand accounting; it’s helpful to know the different fields of accounting so you can identify which accountant can best support the needs of your business.

In this article, you will learn the different types of accounting careers you can choose to study and specialize at if you want to pursue the accounting profession.

Accounting Career and Opportunities

In general, accountants can engage in three different fields and areas of accounting. These are private accounting, public accounting and government or not-for-profit accounting.

1. Private Accounting

Majority of accountants are employed in private businesses or organizations. These are private entities or companies engaged in business with the purpose of earning and maximizing profit. It varies from small, medium and large companies, like corporations included in Fortune 500 such as Microsoft, Apple Inc., General Motors, Intel, Sony, Toyota, Coca-Cola, etc.

Private accountants are hired to perform numerous tasks and accounting procedures, depending on the size and need of the business.
If the size of the business is small, a private accountant may be assign to perform the whole accounting process, such as recording, classifying, summarizing, reporting and interpreting financial information.

On the other hand, if the size of the business is medium or large, private accountant may be assign with a specific account from the whole accounting process, such as cash, inventory or accounts payable account, or in a specific area of accounting such as financial accounting, cost accounting, tax accounting, etc.

In general, private accounting in large businesses includes the following accounting careers and opportunities:

a. Financial Accountant

A financial accountant prepares various financial reports and statement needed by both external and internal users, also known as stakeholders.

b. Cost Accountant

If the business is involved in manufacturing, private accountants can also be hired as cost accountants. A cost accountant determines the cost of producing specific products or services.

c. Managerial Accountant

Managerial accountant prepares financial reports to be used by internal users only, such as the business management or executives.

d. Budget Accountant

An accountant in this field prepares and develops a budget or financial plan of the business for the future.

e. Tax Accountant

A tax accountant computes and prepares the various tax returns and requirement of the business. It is also responsible in ensuring the business is compliant to tax regulations.

f. Accounting Information Systems

Accountant in this area designs and implements the accounting system of a business, either manually or computerized.

g. Internal Audit

An internal auditor reviews if there are controls in place or if the accounting procedures are operated properly by the management of the accounting department to ensure accurate and timely financial reports.

h. Controller

In private accounting, one person will oversee and supervise the whole accounting process of the company, and such person is referred to as Controller.

i. Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

If an accountant is promoted to executive level, which is responsible to the financial operation of the business, such accountant can be referred to as Chief Financial Officer or CFO.

2. Public Accounting

Public accountants are licensed Certified Public Accountants (CPA) practicing his/her profession as a separate and independent individual, or as a member of an accounting firm like Ernst and Young, KPMG, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, etc.

Public accountants provide various services to clients or businesses for a fee. These services includes, but not limited to, the following:

a. External Audit

An accountant in this area conducts an audit, an independent examination of the business accounting records and procedures of the client, in order to provide independent expression of opinion regarding the fairness and accuracy of the financial reports of the business.

b. Tax Consulting

Tax consultants or specialist provides consulting services or advices to clients regarding tax planning and preparation of tax returns, as well as representing client before tax government agencies.

c. Management Consulting

Accountant in this field should have training and experience with financial and management accounting in order to provide sound advice and services regarding managerial issues of the business.

d. Review Engagements

Public accountant engaged in review engagement are requested to review the accounting records and procedures of the business in order to determine whether the reported financial statements are reliable and fair. This happens when external audit is not required for the business but shareholders still wants to be assured about the fairness of the financial statements.

3. Government and Not for Profit Accounting

An accountant in this field is employed either to serve under the government entities and agencies or to not for profit organizations such as cooperative or charitable institutions.

The accounting tasks, procedures and guidelines are different in government and not for profit accounting compared to private and public accounting. As such, accountant in this field may be required to study, specialized and gain experience in government or not for profit accounting.

Recommended Reading:

If you want to learn more about the different careers in accounting, you will gain deeper knowledge with this book:

AICPA: The Inside Track to Careers in Accounting

This book provides information you need to get a rewarding career in accounting.  It is designed to help accounting professionals, students or any person interested in accounting expand their knowledge on what an accountants or CPAs do, and learn the different opportunities available.  The book focuses on the following careers: public accounting, private/corporate accounting, government accounting, not-for-profit accounting, academics and starting your own accounting business.  Read more here.



  1. KesavaKrishna.timmana says:

    I am completed degree bcom com and i know tally work typing msoffis

  2. This is a great article. It really helped me narrow down what I really want to focus in on. I am in school for finance and my goal is to be a private accountant with a focus on business. Thanks again

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