Career Options for CPAs

A career in the accounting industry can be so much more than just, well, accounting!

People decide to pursue accounting careers for a wide variety of reasons. There are those that have a passion for numbers. Others see accounting as a big, complex puzzle that they’re excited to solve. And some simply choose the field for the stability and long-term career opportunities that it affords.

On the other hand, many turn up their noses at the accounting field—perhaps claiming that an accounting career would be boring or repetitive. They are wrong!

Below are some examples of the multitude of fascinating career options that abound within the accounting field. Read on to learn about the exciting paths that CPAs can take, both within a traditional accounting firm and beyond!

Within the Traditional Accounting Firm

Accounting Auditor
An auditor is an accounting professional who specializes in the preparation and examination of financial records. These professionals are charged with ensuring the accuracy of an organization’s records and assessing financial operations. Accounting auditors are the key to ensuring that organizations are running efficiently and will continue to do so in the future.

Financial Planner
Many traditional accounting firms provide specialized financial planning services to their clients. The goal of financial planning professionals is to work with their clients to establish and enhance their successful financial future. From estate planning to retirement planning to investment planning, this sub-set of accounting offers a diverse range of interesting career opportunities.

Tax Specialist
Some CPAs opt to pursue a specialty in tax. Tax specialists are responsible for tax document management and preparation. They have the option of working with a wide range of clients, including individuals, small business, large corporations, and everything in between! This particular specialty requires a deep understanding of tax code and a willingness to work with changing laws and regulations. If you’re the kind of CPA who enjoys constantly learning new things then applying what you’ve learned to your work, this is the field for you!

Forensic Specialist
Not only is forensic accounting a big field, but it’s constantly growing. The prevalence of fraud, both in the US and around the world, make this an area of increasing demand for expert CPA services. Within an accounting firm, a forensic specialist can be responsible for a variety of tasks, including uncovering fraud, quantifying financial loss, performing fact-finding interviews, and even testifying in court. Forensic specialists generally pursue further certifications in addition to their CPA license, such as Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) credentials.

Niche Specialization
In addition to the roles listed above, there are a multitude of options for CPAs to specialize in niche fields, working with a particular industry or type of client. Some accounting professionals concentrate on providing services to a particular local industry (for example, a Vermont-based accountant who serves exclusively local Christmas tree growers). Others choose to specialize in a larger niche field, such as construction, healthcare, or hospitality. Perhaps you have a unique niche in mind around which you dream of developing your accounting practice?


Beyond the Traditional Accounting Firm

Accounting Software Development
As technology continues to evolve at an ever-increasing rate, there is a really neat opportunity for accountants to serve as advisors in the accounting software development field. Software developers need to work with experienced accounting professionals—people who really know how the accounting industry work—to ensure that the programs they create function fully and correctly. From advising about home accounting software for individual tax filers to large systems for accounting firms, there is a great need for knowledgeable accounting advisors in the tech field.

Environmental Accounting
As environmentally sound business practice increase in popularity, there is a growing demand for in-house environmental accounting advisors, both at large corporations and within government agencies. Environmental accounting professionals serve to help organizations become more eco-friendly and comply with environmental regulations, all while saving money and remaining profitable.

Investigative Accounting
For two of the traditional accounting firm career paths mentioned above—auditing and forensic accounting—there are parallel opportunities within law enforcement. Various law enforcement agencies employ CPAs and other accounting professionals in an investigative capacity. Have you ever considered seeking out a career at the Federal Bureau of Investigations or the Drug Enforcement Administration?

After reading about all of the opportunities that the accounting industry provides, are you still convinced that a job in the field would be routine? We certainly hope that one or more of the opportunities listed above sparked some excitement in you and will lead you to a fulfilling and enjoyable career as a CPA!

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