Career Outlook


Accounting is the study of how businesses track their income and assets over time. Accountants engage in a wide variety of activities besides preparing financial statements and recording business transactions, which includes computing costs and efficiency gains from new technologies, participating in strategies for mergers and acquisitions, quality management, developing and using information systems to track financial performance, tax strategy, and health care benefits management.

There's a lot to get out of a job in accounting. Perhaps most important: you will learn how business works. Accounting jobs offers stimulating and challenging work that is constantly evolving. Because accountants spend a lot of time looking under the hoods of businesses, they really learn the nuts and bolts of business. It's no surprise that many successful players in business began their careers in accounting jobs. It's also no surprise that most Chief Financial Officers of large corporations have a background in accounting. An accountant is perfectly positioned to become a CFO because he or she probably has the best understanding of what drives business and profits in a company. 

A career in corporate finance means you would work for a company to help it find money to run the business, grow the business, make acquistions, plan for its financial future and manage any cash on hand. You might work for a large multinational company or a smaller player with high growth prospects. Responsibility can come fast and your problem-solving skills will get put to work quickly in corporate finance jobs. (source:

Careers in Finance

For information about careers in finance, visit the website.

Careers in Accounting


Accounting is an integral part of every business and industry around the world and the work is creative, diverse, and exciting. Preparation for a successful accounting career begins in high school; however, the learning should never end. Becoming associated with a professional organization is the best way to maintain a competitive edge in this ever changing marketplace.

Five important areas accountants work in are:

  • Management Accounting
  • Public Accounting
  • Internal Auditing
  • Governmental Accounting
  • Accounting Education

Management Accounting

Management accountants are found in both large and small corporations. Hospitals, law firms, school systems, manufacturing companies, television and radio stations, banks, investment firms, public utilities, and professional sports franchisees are just a few industries where you will find these accounting finance professionals. Management accountants work as part of their company’s management team acting in a decision-making capacity.

When you work for a company, you might start with general accounting projects, and then begin preparing more specific reports for management such as analyzing financial and operating data. At the managerial level, you may be involved in reporting how to increase profits and determining a company’s financial needs for the future. As controller, you will be the person responsible for your company’s financial operations. A management accountant’s career eventually can lead to becoming an organization’s chief financial officer (CFO).

Public Accounting

Working for a public accounting firm offers you the opportunity to work with clients in many different industries. Public accountants provide many services including auditing, tax advice, and management consulting. You’ll be involved in examining the inventory of one client, analyzing another client’s financial records, and even helping set up a client’s computer system or a new payroll plan.

Internal Auditing

As an internal auditor, you will be involved in examining and evaluating your company’s financial and information systems, management procedures, and internal controls to ensure that records are accurate, and controls are adequate to protect against fraud and unnecessary waste.

Internal auditors play an important role in a company, reviewing company operations, making sure they are efficient, effective, and in compliance with company policies, state laws, and government regulations.

Government Accounting

Accountants and financial experts work throughout the municipal, county, state, and federal levels of the government, and the specialized bureaus within them. Government accounting is unique in that the source of revenue and authorization of expenditures are established by legislative action rather than by a management policy. For most government positions you are required to take a civil service examination, but many are filled through election or appointment. In this area, you could be involved in speaking out on the expected effects of proposed tax legislation, and how it might impact today’s business and economy.

Accounting Education

If you are interested, you can use your accounting experience to educate others. While working, you can teach as an adjunct professor or devote your career to teaching and earn your Ph.D. As accounting and financial management practices become more complex, accounting students will require a sound education to prepare for their careers.

Preparation for an Accounting Career

An accountant must bring a broad perspective, and specific accounting knowledge to the job. While courses in accounting and other business areas are most directly related to your future career, the humanities, and social and physical sciences must be a significant part of your educational preparation. During the early stages of your career you need to develop your computer skills, along with your ability to communicate well, both orally and in writing.

Recently, the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and the Financial Executives Institute (FEI) commissioned a study titled “What Corporate America Wants in Entry-Level Accountants.” According to the survey results, about 20 percent of the corporate executives prefer to hire entry-level accountants who have a bachelor’s degree that includes an internship program. Areas rated most important by corporate executives that students should be prepared in were budgeting, product costing, and asset management.

Professional Certification

An accounting certification provides professional recognition, demonstrates academic achievement, and signifies you are an expert in accounting and financial management.

To advance in your career consider becoming a Certified Management Accountant (CMA). The CMA is the only professional certification designed specifically for management accountants and financial managers. Established by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), the CMA Program requires candidates to pass a two-part examination. To qualify to take the examination, which is developed by IMA’s Institute of Certified Management Accountants, candidates must meet specific educational standards. The examination is offered three times a year, in Jan/Feb, May/June and Sept/Oct., either remotely or face-to-face.

To earn the CMA, you must (1) successfully pass both parts of the examination, though not necessarily at one time. (2) A Bachelor's degree or professional accounting certificate is required. (3) Final certification requires a minimum of two years of professional experience in management accounting or financial management; however, this experience may be earned after completing the examination. 

To practice as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), you must pass a four-part examination prepared by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The examination is offered the first two months of each quarter. Certificates are issued by the State Board of Accountancy, and each state has formulated education and experience requirements that the prospective CPA in that state must fulfill.

To earn the CPA, you must (1) successfully pass all four parts of the examination, though not necessarily at one time. (2) A Bachelor's degree or 150 semester hours is required. (3) Final certification requires one to two years of professional experience under a CPA.

The Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) designation is offered by the Institute of Internal Auditors, Inc. To be approved into the CIA program, you must either: (1) hold a Bachelor's degree or higher, or (2) hold an active Internal Audit Practitioner designation, or (3) possess five (5) years of internal audit experience, or (4) be an active student in your final year of college, or (5) be an active student with an approved Internal Audit Education Partnership (IAEP) school. Once you have been accepted to the program you must pass a three-part examination within the eligibility period.

For Further Information

To learn more about a career in accounting, talk to the career guidance counselors at your school or visit your public library. Be sure to inquire about scholarships, and internships programs for college students.

An additional source of information is the Institute of Management Accountants, which sponsors IMA Student Chapters at colleges and universities.