Accountants prepare, develop, analyze, evaluate, and verify financial documents. They disseminate information that their clients need to ensure that their businesses are run efficiently and that they comply with the terms of their contracts. Accounting is a system by which financial information is identified, recorded, analyzed, summarized, and reported for the use of decision makers. Put simply, accounting is the language of business.
Many accountants are employed by the Big Four, which are defined as the four largest public accounting/professional services firms. They also work for public accounting firms of all sizes. Many others work in corporate accounting (from Fortune 500 companies to “mom-and-pop” shops), in government accounting, and for nonprofit organizations. Some own their own accounting firms.
Public Accounting: If you've obtained, or plan to obtain, a CPA certification, you are eligible to work at a public accounting firm. A public accounting firm generally provides auditing, tax, consulting, and accounting services for a number of clients across a range of sectors, including businesses, individuals, nonprofits, and governments. A job in public accounting will give you experience in many different facets of the accounting field, from the preparation and review of financial statements to analyzing budgets to tax work to consulting and advice on a range of financial issues.
Public accounting firms range in size from local (Martin Hood Friese; Sikich; Frost, Ruthenberg & Rothblatt) and regional firms (BDO, Crowe Horwath, Grant Thornton, RSM, Plante Moran) to large international firms (Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PwC).
Private Accounting: Private accounting roles are typically with corporate offices, government agencies, or non-profit organizations
Tax Accountant: As the name suggests, a tax account focuses solely on tax-related accounting work, preparing quarterly and annual tax returns (local, state, and federal) for individuals and companies.
Forensic Accountant: Forensic accountants examine companies' financial statements and provide analysis for legal cases, investigating crimes such as embezzlement or fraud.
Financial Accountant: Financial accountants work for a single organization or business, preparing reports that assess fiscal performance (for example, profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements) for stockholders, creditors, and taxing agencies - essentially, individuals external to the company.
Managerial Accountant: Managerial accountants perform similar work to financial accountants, but focus on internal stakeholders - they prepare reports for internal review, to help businesses plan, budget, and improve performance.
Financial Planner: Some accounting professionals choose to work for financial planning firms, or as independent financial consultants. Financial planners assist individuals with their finances, from budgeting to taxes to investing.
Internal Auditor: In large corporations, internal auditors ensure that resources are being used effectively, that the company is in compliance with all state and federal requirements, and funds are not being mismanaged.
Consulting: Many public accounting firms offer consulting services, helping clients review particular business needs; restructure their financial reporting, organizational hierarchy, expenses, risk, evaluation and analysis of information; make recommendations; and implement changes in any area of a business. Many accounting consultants specialize in a certain industry or clientele. Accounting consultants are quick problem solvers, creative thinkers, very fast learners, and have honed math and analytical skills.
Whether you are just beginning to consider becoming an accountant, or already have a multi-point plan in place to launch your career, here are 5 questions you should ask yourself about becoming an accountant.
Follow these steps to prepare for the job search process!
When using job search platforms, such as Handshake, utilize keywords to find appropriate positions the industries you are interested in.
Below are titles Gies Alumni have had:
For current job openings, view open jobs on Handshake.
A simple way to get started is by learning more about the companies that hired Gies students in the past. Once you have identified your target companies, follow these companies on Handshake to be informed about opportunities and info sessions, in which you can network with recruiters and professionals.
Below are employers who have hired Gies students:
It’s important to customize your application documents for the industry/position you will be pursuing. Highlight your relevant experience by incorporating desired skills and qualifications into your application documents. How does your experience align with the skills the employer is seeking?
Accountants analyze and prepare financial records for organizations and individual clients. However, in-demand skills for accountants vary by specific job title. For example, Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) specialize in tax forms, balance statements, and other forms of financial documentation that their clients must legally disclose. This role requires precision, analytical skills, and strong ethics.
Other types of accountants benefit from these skills, along with additional knowledge related to their professional niche.
Some of the important skills you may want to highlight:
The Master of Accounting Science (MAS) program at Gies College of Business is a nine-month, STEM-designated program for students who already hold a bachelor of science in accountancy.
As an MAS student, you will design your own curriculum by choosing a core concentration in Financial Reporting & Assurance (FRA) or Tax and then applying to a graduate business concentration based on your interests and career goals. Regardless of your concentration, you will acquire the data analytics knowledge and capabilities that top firms demand.
Build on your undergraduate accountancy education through advanced study in the field as well as other business disciplines. MAS students engage in problem identification and information analysis to find solutions. Learn and use data analytic tools and techniques to address common business problems as well as apply best practices in data visualization. These lessons facilitate team-based analysis and communication.
The MAS curriculum emphasizes the emerging trend of data analytics in the practice of accounting. Our standard course plan leads to a graduate concentration in data analytics in accountancy as you fulfill the graduate electives. Students have the choice of remaining in the standard course plan or selecting from the following alternative graduate concentrations in:
Becoming a CPA takes work and effort, but the benefits go far beyond job security and salary. You’re working to become an essential part of the business world.
10-15% higher salary than regular accountants
Becoming a CPA is an investment. CPAs have the potential to boost their earnings by $1 million of their lifetime compared to a non-CPA in the same position.
Accountants and auditors who have earned professional recognition, especially as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), should have the best prospects. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
As a CPA, you’ll also have access to jobs with higher authority and responsibility — and you’ll enjoy greater career stability.