Accounting Career Outlook

The Jobs Outlook for Accounting

As we look ahead, those pursuing accounting jobs may have a positive outlook as the accounting field is expected to grow over the next several years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of accountants and auditors is projected, on a national level, to grow by 96,000 jobs from 2020 to 2030. On average, about 135,000 openings for accountants and auditors are anticipated each year over the decade. This demand is driven by globalization, a growing economy and the tax and regulatory environment.1

 

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Common Accounting Job Titles

There are several accounting job titles and career choices that you can explore with an accounting degree. Depending on the specialization you choose, your degree level, certification requirements and the amount of experience you have, there are a variety of careers that you may consider working toward. Here are some fields that could be pursued by someone with an accounting degree who meets all applicable qualifications:

  • Financial accounting, including CPA positions2
  • Financial services industry planning and analysis
  • Financial consulting and examining
  • Federal and state taxation
  • Internal auditing
  • Budget and credit analysis
  • Purchasing
  • Claims

Within these fields, you might consider exploring some of the specific job titles listed below, depending on your education and qualifications.

Public Accountants

A public accountant can have a wide range of accounting, auditing and tax responsibilities. Some public accountants have their own businesses while others work for public accounting firms. They often work with financial documents that are required by law, such as tax return preparation for individuals or corporations. Public accountants are expected to have deep knowledge of data management, economics, financial planning and tax law.

Government Accountants

This role involves maintaining the records of government agencies, as well as the auditing of organizations and individuals for compliance with government regulations and tax laws. Government accountants can be employed at the federal, state or local level, and are responsible for ensuring that revenue is both received and spent appropriately.3

Management Accountants

Sometimes referred to as cost or corporate accountants, management accountants are responsible for overseeing accounting and financial records in order to help guide decision-making. They are also responsible for developing budgets so that organizations can efficiently plan for the cost of doing business.

External Auditors

People in this role are responsible for ensuring the appropriate use of an organization’s funds, revenue and internal controls. Typically, external auditors are employed by an outside organization, rather than the organization that is being audited. Responsibilities include reviewing financial statements and determining whether they have been fairly prepared and reported.

Internal Auditors

An internal auditor has responsibilities that are similar to that of an external auditor, but this role is found within an organization and is dedicated to finding ways to improve efficiencies and reduce financial risks.

What Types of Accounting Degrees Can I Pursue?

Depending on the industry or position you’re looking to pursue, the level of degree you choose to earn may vary.

At DeVry, we offer accounting degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. If you’re just getting started, a bachelor’s degree can be a great first step. If you’re looking to expand your skills and continue your education, you might consider earning a master’s degree or graduate certificate.

Accounting Licenses and Certifications

There are several professional certifications that accounting professionals can pursue. One commonly recognized accounting credential is the Certified Public Accountant (CPA).4 Becoming a CPA requires passing a four-part exam and completing at least 150 semester hours of post-secondary coursework related to accounting, in addition to other requirements.5 At DeVry, many of our accounting programs include elements of Becker Professional Education’s CPA Exam prep built right into the coursework, so you’ll gain exposure to today’s most relevant accounting principles.2

Other accounting certifications include:

  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
  • Certified Fraud Examiner (CFA)
  • Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
  • Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF)
  • Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)
  • Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP)
  • Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA)
  • Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA)

What is the job growth for an accounting career?

Based on estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the accounting career field is expected to experience positive job growth. Their most recent estimates show that between 2020 and 2030, the career field is expected to grow by 7% on a national level, adding roughly 96,000 jobs.1

Is accounting a good job?

Accounting can be an excellent career field for people who are detail-oriented and interested in numbers. Since accounting is an essential function in virtually every organization, there are a wide variety of industries that you can consider pursuing. Accounting roles are available in both large and small businesses, and accounting professionals can perform a wide variety of tasks from budgeting and planning to forensic accounting.

What is the best career in accounting For Me?

The best career in accounting depends on you and your specific interests. Think about what areas of accounting interest you, as well as what roles your unique skills, education and experience might help you qualify for. Here are some accounting jobs you might be interested in learning more about:

  • CFO: CFOs are high-level executives who oversee the finances of a company. Professionals in these positions may have years or even decades of experience in addition to graduate-level degrees in areas such as accounting or finance.
  • CPA: CPAs may work in a variety of different companies and may be called upon to help confirm the accuracy of their accounts or provide advice on how they can be more financially efficient. CPAs can also open their own accounting firms.
  • Tax Accountant: Tax accountants help both people and companies when tax season comes, as well as throughout the year. Often, they are tasked with helping their clients prepare their documents, assist with tax planning and file their returns.
  • Finance Manager: Finance managers work with clients in order to help them manage investments, their own finances or help a company maintain financial health. They may be retained by a few clients at once, though some work with a single client over an extended period of time.
  • Bookkeeper: Bookkeepers are accounting professionals who use accounting principles to track the flow of money across a business's operations.

 

Pros and Cons of an Accounting Career

Like any career field, accounting may have its pros and cons. Here are a few things you might consider.

Pros of an Accounting Career

  1. If you’re looking to enter the accounting field, here are a few potential benefits you might experience: Wide range of industries – Since virtually every organization needs accountants, there are a wide array of industries that you may have the potential to work in.
  2. Flexibility –Accounting careers can be flexible, and can sometimes allow for both in-office or remote work depending on your industry or specific position.
  3. Potential to own your own business– With certain professional designations such as a CPA license, you may be able to start your own business helping companies or individuals with their finances.
  4. Variety of positions – Accounting roles run the gamut from managing a company’s finances to using accounting principles to solve financial crimes. Whatever your interests are, there’s sure to be a role that suits you.

Cons of an Accounting Career

  1. Competitive job market – Depending on the industry and the level of the accounting jobs you’re interested in, the accounting field can be competitive. Continuing your education with a Master’s Degree in Accounting or an MBA with a Specialization in Accounting may help you consider broader range of accounting careers.
  2. Busy seasons – Tax season, for example, often requires accountants to work longer hours, which may or may not suit your lifestyle and family needs.
  3. Education requirements – According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accounting positions typically require a bachelor's degree1, but may require graduate-level degrees or professional certifications. Even if you already work in the field, you may want to consider advancing your skills, especially if you’re thinking about pursuing a different accounting role.

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1Growth projected on a national level. Local growth will vary by location. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-6
2Credits 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..
3https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-2
4https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/careers/designations/top-10-accounting-finance-certifications/
5https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-4
†Additional hours of industry-specific training may be required to obtain employment in this field. Employment in this occupation may require years of relevant experience.