Accounting Careers: Which CPA Career Path To Choose?

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Accounting Careers: Which CPA Career Path To Choose?

If you are exploring career options in the field of accounting, there are numerous areas to consider. An accounting degree can open up opportunities in any industry. Additionally, individuals with an accounting degree can pursue non-accounting roles.

Ensuring compliance with financial regulations and laws is crucial, and accountants play a vital role in this process. Accountants provide advice, maintain records, prepare budgets, manage assets and investments, help with retirement planning, and identify potential areas of financial risk. With a CPA license, individuals have even more career options available to them. In this blog, we will explore various industries and accounting careers that may be of interest to aspiring CPAs.

Accounting careers: Why would someone want to become an accountant?

There are various reasons why individuals choose to pursue different CPA career paths. Some of the top reasons include employment opportunities, the potential for promotions, the prestige associated with the profession, and financial gain.

Accounting is a flexible career path, allowing individuals to specialize in areas such as audit, tax, forensic accounting, budget analysis, financial analysis, management, and consulting. This flexibility provides appealing options for accounting graduates.

  • Internal auditors work within a company to ensure compliance with regulations and evaluate financial systems, information reporting systems, and internal controls.
  •  Government accountants work in the public sector, examining financial records of government agencies and private businesses affected by taxation or government regulations. 
  • Management accountants are part of the executive team and handle budgeting, cost and asset management, performance evaluation, and financial analysis to assist in making sound business decisions.

These are just a few examples of the many roles and responsibilities held by accountants, impacting every industry and holding organizations together.

CPA careers: What can you do with a CPA?

Accountants are integral for small and large corporations, governmental entities, non-profit organizations, and even the general public. CPAs are highly valued assets on various boards, and their roles may vary from organization to organization while utilizing their financial training. The following are some potential accounting career paths for CPAs:

  • Auditing – This role involves intense work that often includes examining accounting ledgers and financial statements. Depending on the position, it may also require travel to gather the necessary information for reporting findings. 
  • Tax – Tax accountants prepare income tax statements for both corporations and individuals, offering guidance on topics such as mergers, acquisitions, tax-related expenses, and more. 
  • Budget and financial analysis – Accountants in this area help create and manage the overall financial plans of organizations. They also prepare financial statements, aid in employee benefit decision-making, project company finances, and work with various departments to obtain needed information.

    Other potential roles for CPAs include working on capital budgets, cost analysis, contracts, and even teaching as instructors in academic settings, where they provide foundational knowledge to help others pass the CPA Exam.

In what types of businesses will you find accounting careers?

There are many industries and organizations that offer accounting careers, from trucking companies to small stores. After passing the CPA Exam, accountants often look for lucrative opportunities that provide a good return on their investment of time and money. Accounting careers can also lead to non-accounting jobs in various industries. Here are some examples:

  • Public accounting firms, including the Big Four (KPMG, Deloitte, PwC, and Ernst & Young), offer high-profile positions that can advance an accountant’s career.
  • Consulting firms employ accountants to provide financial forecasts, proposals, and advice to guide companies in the right direction.
  • Corporations of all sizes have entire accounting departments, providing opportunities for accountants to work for large Fortune 500 companies or smaller businesses.
  • Accountants can work for local, state, or federal government agencies, such as the Department of Defense, the Internal Revenue Service, or the General Accounting Office.
  • Accounting careers are also available in academia, including in classrooms, financial aid, auditing, and the comptroller’s office.
  • Non-profit organizations require accountants to ensure financial compliance with government grants and other financial rules.
  • Accountants can also serve on the board of directors of for-profit or non-profit organizations, ensuring that financials are in order and providing guidance on tax implications.
  • Some accountants choose to work as sole proprietors, offering their services as consultants or completing major projects for corporations.

Becoming a sole proprietor requires knowledge of business and marketing fundamentals, but it can be very lucrative. Successful accountants often have clients all over the country and travel to meet them periodically, although remote servicing of major clients is also possible with today’s technology.

Preparing for the CPA Exam may be intense, but it is worth the effort. A CPA career can lead to positions such as audit or tax manager, senior associate, finance manager, or consultant. Accounting careers are not only financially rewarding but can also provide personal satisfaction. 


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