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What Can You Do With an Accounting Degree?

By Steve Smith

The information presented here is true and accurate as of the date of publication. DeVry’s programmatic offerings and their accreditations are subject to change. Please refer to the current academic catalog for details.

December 21, 2022


5 min read



Because the need to track finances and expenditures is universal across the spectrum of business, an accounting degree can be applied in many ways. So, what can you do with an accounting degree?


An accounting degree can prepare you with a variety of skills that are used across many different professions within the financial service industry as well as many other fields. Depending on their needs, large and small businesses, nonprofit organizations and government agencies may choose to staff an accounting department, employ a single accountant or outsource this function to a bookkeeping or accounting firm, giving you a wide array of potential career paths and work environments to consider. 

What You Will Learn in an Accounting Degree Programs

In an accounting degree program, like a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting for example, you’ll have the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of financial accounting and build skills that can be applied in industries like management, finance, entertainment, operations management, forensic accounting and more. The degree program you choose should help you gain a strong foundation in accounting and economics and a thorough understanding of business administration, technology, management and government laws and regulations. Topics covered will likely include profit and loss, asset management, liabilities and cash flow management.

Accountant Positions

Accounting degree jobs are differentiated by their skill and daily responsibilities. Here are a few examples of some different accounting roles and what their day to day duties might be. Keep in mind this list includes positions that require varying levels of education, specific training, professional certifications or hours of experience:

  • Senior Accountant: With in-depth knowledge of company practices and accounting principles, senior accountants report costs, productivity, margins and expenditures and are likely to handle the reporting and most of the financial responsibilities of a mid-sized company.

  • Tax Accountant: As the title implies, tax accountants operate in the area of taxation and tax preparation, helping businesses to comply with the Internal Revenue Code when tax documents are filed. They also help with financial planning from a tax perspective, understanding and interpreting the implications of changes to the tax code and helping businesses minimize their tax liabilities.

  • Revenue Accountant: Similar to a senior accountant, the revenue accountant handles the checks and balances of an organization’s revenues, paying close attention to payable and receivable accounts and keeping accurate financial records. They will typically work with the company’s clients to be sure payments are received on time and work internally to devise strategies to improve the company’s cash flow and profitability.

  • Corporate Accountant: Corporate accountants manage financial and accounting-related tasks such as creating financial statements and fiscal reports. They work with a company’s various department heads to determine departmental expenses. Monitoring cash flow and expenditures, they provide a detailed overview of revenue and expenses for decision making by senior management.

  • Property Accountant: Handling the financial aspect of private, commercial and industrial real estate, property accountants perform real estate-related accounting, asset management and bookkeeping duties. This may include managing, preparing or maintaining records of the company’s assets, taxes, budgeting, payroll, monthly expenses and financial reports.

Other Accounting Degree Avenues

Looking for other ways to put your accounting degree to work? According to Indeed, there is a wide range of accounting degree jobs that do not have “accountant” in their title. Here are just a few:

  • Actuary: In organizations of any size or type, actuaries make plans to mitigate financial risk and prevent financial loss. Their risk management duties require them to use mathematical calculations and statistics to confirm that the data they work with is accurate. 

  • Financial advisor: Financial advisors evaluate their clients’ finances and use that data to create financial goals for things like insurance, investments, mortgages and taxes that can help stabilize their clients’ futures.

  • Treasury analyst: A treasury analyst manages everything about a company’s financial moves, including how they invest, save and spend their capital. Often working with other accountants, they will process taxes or track investment income to help keep the company stable.

  • Comptroller: Comptrollers manage audits and help finance teams figure out and implement their strategy. Comptrollers may also perform day-to-day tasks such as organizing payroll, drawing up reports or overseeing loan transactions.

  • Payroll manager: Payroll managers take care of paying a company’s employees and keep track of any new hires, terminations or personnel changes that affect payroll.

  • Budget analyst: Budget analysts keep companies on track with their financial goals and help manage their budget. They may compose and review proposals and suggest revisions that may lead to the reallocation of company funds.

  • Internal Auditor: Part accountant and part detective, auditors examine financial documents for accuracy and compliance with government regulations.

There are several areas of specialty for auditors. Public auditors work with documents that clients are required by law to disclose or provide to potential investors. Forensic auditors combine knowledge of accounting, finance and law with investigative techniques to determine if a financial or business activity is legal. Internal auditors check for mismanagement of company funds and identify ways to find and eliminate waste and fraud. Investors and government agencies rely on external auditors to draw up unbiased and independent reports.

Accounting Degree Options

If you’re considering an accounting career, the first step in your journey will be education. There are several different avenues to explore. At DeVry, we offer degree and certificate programs in accounting at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Whether you’re just beginning your journey or have established yourself in accounting or business and want to advance your career, one or more of these accounting programs may well be a good fit with your personal and professional goals.

Accounting Skills to Learn

As you would in any other occupation, you should plan to acquire and nurture a range of technical and workplace skills and highlight them on your resume as you begin your job search. Here are 5 essential skills that can help round out your skillset as you prepare to pursue an accounting career:

  • Technical skills: Specialized competencies such as the use of accounting software tools, understanding of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), quantitative analysis and financial market forecasting techniques are all important parts of working in this field. The application of accounting practices also involves transferable technical skills like critical thinking and attention to detail as you evaluate financial reports and identify solutions to challenges related to business finances.

  • Communication skills: The importance of verbal and written communication skills that help you exchange information with others should not be underestimated. When you’re able to communicate well, you can effortlessly convey information clearly, better understand others’ needs and gather the information you need to complete tasks, meet deadlines and deliver projects that align with recipients’ expectations. 

  • Organizational skills: Helping you to manage multiple tasks, strong organizational skills are another soft skill that can help you to get things done accurately and efficiently. The use of various digital and manual organization methods can enable you to keep track of a large amount of financial information involving different projects and clients.

  • Customer service skills: You may not associate customer service with accounting, but accounting professionals are often required to exhibit high-level customer service skills as they interact with clients. This is not exclusive to those in public accounting. Management accountants working within the structure of corporations need these skills as they interact with colleagues and prepare and present reports.

  • Adaptability: Meeting tight deadlines, understanding and adapting to new software, interpreting changes in tax laws and managing a busy schedule are all things that require adaptability. Your ability to respond quickly and competently to requests from clients or business colleagues will depend heavily on this essential problem-solving soft skill. 

CPA and Other Certifications

Among the certifications that accounting professionals use to enhance their careers and grow their skill sets, the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) is widely recognized and is the highest-level accounting credential you can earn in the United States. The CPA exam is conducted by the AICPA (American Institute of CPAs) and licensure is issued by one of the 55 U.S. states or territories, all of which are members of the NASBA (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy).

Many companies require this certification for managerial positions. State regulations govern how much education or work experience you’ll need before pursuing a CPA license, as well as the amount of continuing professional education that is required to maintain it.

At DeVry, our online Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting program includes elements of Becker Professional Education’s CPA Exam prep content, exposing you to key concepts related to the CPA exam while earning your degree.1

Other certifications applying to specialties in the accounting profession which you may choose to consider include:

  • Certified Financial Analyst (CFA)

  • Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)

  • Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

  • Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)

  • Enrolled Agent (EA)

  • Financial Services Audit Certificate (FSAC)


Do I need to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting?

That depends on the career path you choose. If you want to become a CPA, it’s important to know that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all state boards require 150 credit hours of post-secondary education in order to sit for the CPA exam. This exceeds the number of credit hours you’d earn in a typical bachelor’s degree program, so pursuing an MBA or master’s degree is a good option to consider.

Accounting-related jobs such as Accounting Clerk, Accounting Assistant, Bookkeeper and Auditing Clerk typically do not require you to be a CPA, but may have their own specific requirements.

What accounting certificates are there?

As described above, the CPA is a widely known certification in this field, and employers may require you to obtain this certification to work as an accountant. Other, more specialized accounting certifications include the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA).

Is an accounting degree worth it?

The best way to answer that question is to evaluate your own professional and education goals. A more objective approach is to take a look at the occupational outlook for accounting-related employment. If you’re asking whether this profession will remain essential in the next several years,  the BLS, projects employment for accountants and auditors to hold steady at 4% growth from 2022 to 2032, with about 126,500 job openings projected each year, on average, over the decade.This growth is projected on a national level and local growth will vary by location. This projection is not specific to DeVry University graduates and may include earners at all stages of their careers.

Is accounting a good career?

The question is, would accounting be a good career for you? There is no singular pathway to any career. If you consider yourself a problem solver, possess good math skills and have a natural desire to help organizations and individuals succeed financially, then it’s likely that you would find a career in accounting to be a good fit for you.

Is it hard to become an accountant?

Because each individual brings their own unique attributes and natural abilities to every challenge, the degree of difficulty involved with any academic or professional pursuit is somewhat subjective. Some might find the required math coursework to be challenging, while others would be more challenged by the communications skills or humanities elements of the curriculum. If you apply yourself, take advantage of the tools and resources DeVry offers and adopt a goal-oriented mindset, you can absolutely pursue your dreams of becoming an accountant.

Do I need to earn my CPA license to become an accountant?

The short answer here is no. Many roles outside the realm of public accounting, including staff accountant, accounts receivable or payable specialist, or senior accountant, don’t require you to become a CPA (which involves obtaining licensure and passing an exam.)

The BLS notes, however, that any accountant who files a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is required to be a licensed CPA, and details several certifications may help accountants in non-public accounting roles to advance their careers. The Certified Management Accountant (CMA), for example, is offered by the Institute of Management Accountants to applicants who complete a bachelor’s degree, gain work experience in management accounting, pass the CMA exam and meet continuing education requirements. 

Prepare to Pursue Your Accounting Career with DeVry

Every business, from a corner grocery store to a multinational corporation,  needs to track its finances, make payroll and pay taxes. These needs create a broad field for accountants and many different career options for them to explore. At DeVry, our online Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting can help prepare you to pursue an accounting career by giving you a strong foundation in accounting, economics and business administration. You’ll learn the fundamentals of financial accounting and build skills that can be applied in a broad spectrum of industries. You’ll also be exposed to CPA exam concepts, with elements of  Becker Professional Education’s CPA Exam prep built right into the coursework.1

Study on your terms with DeVry. Our 6 academic sessions per year allow you to start when you’re ready and learn at your own pace, finishing on a regular or accelerated schedule that meets your personal and professional goals. Classes start soon!

1 Credits and degrees earned from this institution do not automatically qualify the holder to participate in professional licensing exams to practice certain professions. Persons interested in practicing a regulated profession must contact the appropriate state regulatory agency for their field of interest. For instance, typically 150 credit hours or education are required to meet state regulatory agency education requirements for CPA licensure. Coursework may qualify for credit towards the State Board of Accountancy requirements. However, it is the student’s responsibility to contact the state board of accountancy for the jurisdiction in which they are applying to determine whether they have completed the appropriate credit hours and coursework to qualify to take the CPA exam. Employees of DeVry University and its Keller Graduate School of Management are not in a position to determine an individual’s eligibility to take the CPA exam or satisfy licensing.


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