If you’re thinking about going to college for accounting so you can spend your time counting other people’s money, there’s no doubt that you’re hoping you’ll have some of your own to count as well.
Fear not. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for a job in accounting is $68,150. If you aspire to a top-level management position, or would like to specialize in a niche area of accounting, you may even be able to make quite a bit more than the average. (We’ll discuss some of those positions farther down.)
Jobs in the accounting sector are expected to grow by 11% by 2024. The BLS ranks that as much faster than the average growth for all job fields, meaning that your job prospects are likely to be favorable after graduation.
Are you cut out for a job in accounting? Let’s take a closer look at what you do with a degree in accounting.
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What is accounting?
Accountants are people who prepare financial records. They also examine financial records for accuracy and ensure that taxes are paid properly and on time.
When majoring in accounting, you can expect to study:
- Math, including algebra and statistics
You’ll also learn transferable skills that can be helpful in a number of industries, including applying creative solutions to complex problems, working in teams, and being extremely detail oriented.
What does life look after graduating with an accounting degree?
After earnings a bachelor’s degree in accounting, you can hold several positions other than that of accountant.
Some other positions you might want to consider include:
- financial analyst
- accounting manager
- tax manager, or
- business analyst
As we mentioned above, you may also be qualified for a number of more senior positions after you attain the right training and experience.
Ten of the best-paying jobs for people with accounting degrees include:
Corporate controllers, with an average salary of $92,000. Controllers track and maintain a company’s finances, prepare taxes, control budgets, and manage other employees who work in finance. It is possible to become a corporate controller with a bachelor’s degree and relevant experience, but a master’s degree may be required.
Information technology accountants, with an average salary of $103,910. If you’re interested in this position, you’ll need to develop skills in computer systems as well as accounting. You’ll help your company decide on and maintain the technology software used for your employer’s accounting operations.
Financial managers, with an average salary of $121,750. In this position, you’ll report directly to top management. You’ll develop and oversee the financial policies of your company, including accounting, credit, taxes, insurance, and budgeting. You may need an advanced degree to attain this position.
Risk and compliance managers, with an average salary of $85,309. As a risk manager, you’ll ensure that your employer is in compliance with all federal, state, and local regulations and laws.
Financial analysts, with an average salary of $81,760. Financial analysts review company finances to find ways to improve the business’s bottom line. In this job, you’ll review stocks, bonds, and other investments, as well as the revenue-generating areas of the company.
Personal financial advisors, with an average salary of $90,530. As a personal financial advisor, you’ll help your clients with investments, insurance, savings, estate planning, and retirement. Many people in this position are self-employed, and often have to put in night and weekend hours so they’re available when their clients are free.
Chief financial officers (CFO), with an average salary of $173,000. If you have ambition to rise to the level of CFO, expect to put in a number of years first. As an officer of a company, you’ll need to have amassed deep experience in finance. The CFO is in charge of and is held accountable for a company’s long-term finances.
Cost accountant managers, with an average salary of $96,000. In this position, you’ll work with cost control systems within the field that your company operates in, including managing and interpreting cost audits and reporting results to upper management.
Forensic accountant, with an average salary of $103,000. A CNN article actually ranked this job at #24 on a list of top 100 jobs in America. Forensic accountants work much like detectives, attempting to parse out money trails, establish timelines related to finances, and find evidence of wrongdoing. Forensic accountants may be called upon to testify in court in cases of fraud, embezzlement, or other illegal activity.
Anti-Money Laundering Specialists, with an average salary of $75,500. In this position, you’ll be charged with ensuring that banks remain compliant with the Bank Secrecy Act, anti-money laundering regulations, and other statutes pertaining to financial operations.
What's the future of accounting?
Advancements in technology will have a massive impact on accounting going forward. As more services are cloud-based, it will be easier for clients to shop around for new accounting providers. That means that accounting firms and self-employed accountants may have to place a greater emphasis on sales, marketing, and customer service.
Automation may signal a profound change in the field of accounting. Rather than spending time completing various tasks, accountants may transition more into the role of strategists, helping companies problem-solve and create plans for the future.
How to begin your studies in accounting
If you’re ready to take the first step toward a career in accounting, it’s wise to plot out your college funding plan as soon as possible.
Don’t know where to start?
Check out our free NitroScore tool, which can be a helpful resource for helping you forecast your college funding needs.