Getting a job right out of college can seem impossible in a land of post-college unpaid internships. Fortunately accounting is one of few majors where grads still get to choose from plenty of opportunities. With strong analytical skills and highly coveted tax expertise, accounting grads can do anything from working for a Big Four firm to working as a personal financial planner or at a nonprofit, says Scott Moore, senior manager for college and university initiatives at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
Here are six jobs accounting majors often land post college:
Many accountants who have gotten their degree and CPA certification during their undergraduate years go on to work at accounting firms. Companies vary, but the Big Four auditors recruit hundreds of graduates each year and are known for their prestige and impressive benefits. Most graduates work with a variety of companies and end up learning how to navigate all types of businesses from government and nonprofits to global corporations. They also learn "strong project management skills because of the flexibility of an audit engagement," says Matthew Murtaugh, manager for the Young CPA Initiatives at the AICPA.
Personal Financial Planner
As more people become focused on their financial future, those with an accounting degree are well prepared to work in the field. Besides being a requirement for CPAs, being well-versed in tax law is also a focus of the financial planning field, notes Murtaugh. "From a personal financial planning view, those tax implications are enormous and influence the way you would plan for the future," he says. With many personal financial planners working in their own practice or at smaller firms, the job also has an entrepreneurial bent that many enjoy.
Corporate accountants focus their analytical skills on providing relevant information up the corporate ladder. Internally, accountants are often required to make sure their specific company is using resources in the most profitable way. An in-house position provides a closer look at the workings within an organization and can help get an accounting major on a CFO track. Many internal auditors deal with upper management of a company.
Doing accounting projects directly with the government, many forensic accountants are specialists in areas like insurance claims, personal injury or fraud, and conduct analysis to present during a court of law. In addition to accounting work, forensic accountants are often present during litigation for the cases that they work on - adding an interesting dimension to the job.
Most tax accountants work with individuals or companies to complete their annual or quarterly taxes. The work can be demanding during tax season and requires a thorough understanding of tax code and ever-changing regulations. Customer service skills and building relationships with repeat customers are a significant part of the job. A significant number of tax accountants end up starting their own practice.
Working for state or federal entities in an accounting role means you'll be responsible for how resources are ultimately handled. Though the work can get bureaucratic, there's room for advancement. Most government accountants focus on examining the records of government agencies to make sure the agencies are compliant with government regulations.
Additionally, experts point out that despite a significant downturn in other areas of business, accounting remains a profession that's somewhat recession proof because of tax laws. "If there is an economic downturn you really can't get rid of [accountants] because accounting still has to get done," adds Moore.
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