You may have heard that an accounting degree can leave graduates with numerous career opportunities. As the fundamental language and tool of business, accounting is a stepping-stone to every kind of business. Due to the drastic changes in the field over the last two decades, namely technology, increased government regulations, frequent tax law changes, the globalization of business and the continuous downsizing and restructuring of corporations, all business environments demand accounting skills.
Growing out of their singular roles, accountants can now evolve into financial experts, system professionals, management consultants, budget analysts, etc., working in an accounting firm, finance or corporate management, government, or as an entrepreneur. The dynamicity of the accounting profession continues to increase the demand of this degree.
If accounting sounds like the major for you, it’s important to consider which career path you will pursue in order to tailor your studies accordingly. Choosing the right specialization starts with an understanding of the different sectors of the industry: public accounting, private industry accounting, and not-for-profit accounting.
At the forefront of the industry, public accounting firms offer auditing, tax, accounting, and consulting services to businesses and individuals. Ranging from small to large companies, accountants in these firms are guaranteed plentiful exposure and experience to a wide variety of industries. Many people pursue employment at public accounting firms with the intent of becoming a certified public accountant (CPA).
A CPA audits the traditional financial statements prepared by a company in order to analyze how money is being used. A company relies on an auditor’s analysis to cultivate the credibility of its financial statements as well as helping the company make sound investment decisions. Due to the high stakes of the investment process and allocation of resources, states impose strict licensing requirements for public accountants.
While acquiring certification varies by state or jurisdiction, there are three general requirements to become a CPA. According to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), prospective CPAs must execute the following steps:
- Determine where you plan to take the exam and complete the requirements for that state. Your educational path heavily relies on the state in which you choose to practice accounting. Apply for the exam in a state that closely matches your personal profile.
- Sit for the CPA exam after completing appropriate education and additional requirements. Refer to the Uniform CPA Examination Candidate Bulletin for information on the exam process and exam content. When you’re ready to apply to the take the CPA exam, refer the CPA exam section of NASBA’s site.
- Determine where you plan to obtain your CPA license. Depending on the state, this typically entails a certain amount of work experience in public accounting, auditing or other forms of education (i.e. teaching, self-employment and part-time employment).
Private Industry Accounting
If you prefer to specialize in one aspect of accounting, then private industry accounting may be right for you. In this realm, accounting entails the preparation of internal and external financial statements, budgets and cost analyses, all used to help management plan and control company activities.
By gaining in-depth knowledge and experience in the accounting of one company, entry-level candidates have the ability to advance to the top position in accounting and finance in a company. The value of accounting experience is evident across private corporations as many CEO’s and Presidents started in the accounting and finance department.
Conversely, the private industry also offers opportunities for becoming an internal auditor for a company. As an employee of the company, an internal auditor analyzes the efficiency of operations and management’s policies by independently appraising various departments and/or subsidiaries. Functioning as a training ground for future executives, working in the internal audit department can qualify one for higher management positions.
Government & Not-For-Profit Accounting
Helping government agencies and non-profit organizations function within the budgetary constraints required by the legislature, government accountants monitor the appropriation of funds and endowments to private agencies under government regulation. Examples of agencies include the General Accounting Office, the Internal Revenue Service, the Security and Exchange Commission, the Defense Contract Audit Agency at the federal level, and the Franchise Tax Board, the Board of Equalizations, the Employment Development Department at the state level. Municipality agencies vary by jurisdiction.
Accounting opportunities exist within each level of government and are the least competitive of all accounting sectors, offering high and/or competitive starting salaries, benefits, and increased job stability. Due to specialized accounting and reporting practices, many accountants in this sector do not move into public accounting or private industry accounting, therefore, the nuances of this type of accounting is crucial to protecting the interests of said agency or organization.
Getting an Accounting Degree at Florida National University
Florida National University (FNU) offers both brick-and-mortar and online degree programs in Accounting for students who wish to obtain entry-level positions in accounting-related areas of business and government. While this degree alone does not satisfy the eligibility requirements to sit for the Uniform Certified Accounting Exam or to practice as a CPA in the State of Florida, students will be exposed to the general framework of accounting. Ranked as one of the top 20 online accounting programs for the 2014 academic year, according to a BestColleges.com report, FNU’s rigorous curriculum will prepare students to continue education in accounting and its related fields. Contact us today to get started!
How to Get Licensed. (n.d.). . Retrieved from http://nasba.org/licensure/gettingacpalicense/howtogetlicensed/
Why Major in Accounting?. (n.d.). / Accountancy / CBA. Retrieved from https://www.csulb.edu/colleges/cba/accountancy/major/