5 Careers for Accounting Graduates

Accounting careers give graduates the chance to work in nearly any industry. As financial accountants, auditors and analysts, they provide valuable services to private, nonprofit and government organizations. While most accounting-related jobs require work experience, internships and entry-level positions that lead to higher levels of employment are available to graduate students.

Public Accounting

A wide variety of businesses, nonprofits and government agencies require public accounting expertise. Public accountants are generally responsible for:

• auditing financial records for legal or regulatory compliance and accuracy;
• calculating, preparing and submitting tax returns and related documents;
• creating and maintaining financial data and reports for clients;
• providing advice on costs, expenditures and financial practices; and
• using special accounting management systems and software to maintain and monitor financial data and trends.

Accounting graduates may work in entry-level positions such as junior associates for accounting firms. With five years of experience, they could work as staff or senior accountants, and with 10 years of experience, they may become finance managers or financial controllers.

Forensic Accounting

There are several types of jobs available in the forensic accounting career path. To start, graduates may work for financial consulting firms or work in corporate security and risk management positions. For a consulting firm, they will analyze and rebuild financial and digital information and records; assess fraud vulnerability; and investigate corruption, embezzlement allegations, fraud and regulatory scrutiny. In corporate security and risk management, they will analyze changes in cultural attitudes, exchange rates, laws and taxes; audit financial statements; ensure legal and procedural compliance; and protect financial assets. As accounting graduates gain experience, they could take jobs with accounting and law firms or as enforcement agents with the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Resource: Forensic Accounting Degree

Financial Accounting

In a financial accounting career, graduates can choose from a variety of industries to work in. Their primary responsibilities will be to:

• communicate the financial status of the company to external audiences,
• prepare financial reports and statements,
• provide investment strategies to management, and
• remain up to date on the newest economic trends that affect corporate financial decisions.

New graduates may find jobs as financial accountants, in which they will probably report to financial managers or senior accountants. After three years of experience, they may choose to be financial analysts. With five or more years of experience, they could become financial managers or controllers.

Management Accounting

Jobs in the management accounting career field are in high demand in private, nonprofit and government offices across a range of industries. Each organization assigns certain responsibilities to specific job titles based on its needs and business model. A budget analyst, budget accountant or cost estimator, for example, is an entry-level position that may involve developing budgets, informing project managers of budget details, monitoring trends in costs and revenues, and organizing financial tasks. With increasing work experience, accounting graduates can take on more responsibilities with job titles such as financial analyst, accounting manager or controller, and chief financial officer.

Auditing

Auditors are needed in every industry to provide procedural and policy oversight and to ensure that financial reporting is accurate. Along with an expertise in accounting and auditing, graduates who are interested in this career path need to have excellent communication and social skills for explaining findings and recommendations. In general, auditors are responsible for evaluating financial records, information management systems and procedures to detect potential risks and propose countermeasures. An information technology auditor is an entry-level job that focuses on analyzing risks in technology infrastructure. Higher levels of employment include IRS auditor, internal or external auditor and audit manager.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of accountant and auditor jobs available in the United States is expected to grow 11 percent between 2014 and 2024. From entry-level to senior positions, pay for accounting jobs in 2014 ranged from less than $40,850 to more than $115,950.