Top 5 Careers in Accounting

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accounting is a growing field for anyone wanting to establish a career over the next 10 years. Bubbles are bursting, tax laws are changing, companies and corporations closing and new fields are opening. Some areas of accounting are growing faster, some as much as 25%.

Accounting Angles and Aspects

Specialties in accounting are numerous, ranging from simple bookkeeping to complex analysis and appraisals. Modern accountants are knowledgeable business professionals responsible for tracking the money trail. Accountants maintain and process financial information a company requires for managing and reporting its affairs.

Modern accounting involves computation of costs and efficiency of new technology as well as participation in mergers and acquisitions. The best and brightest accountants are vital to the success of a company or corporation. Company accountants monitor the quality, development and use of systems to track finances, tax strategies and health care benefit management. Read more about the types of math skills needed in accounting.

Types of Accountants

Public, management, government accounting and internal auditing are four basic types of accountants. Five careers in accounting are at the top of the list in terms of salary, job prospects and longevity of demand. Within the four basic types are specialty areas, such as:

1) Internal Auditor
2) Compliance Executive
3) Financial Analyst
4) Staff Accountant
5) External Auditor

Jobs and Salaries

• The Internal Auditor works to improve company controls thus bringing the
company into compliance with mandates accompanying new government regulations.
Internal auditing includes operational effectiveness, accuracy of financial
reports, and investigating fraud.

There is no expectation of responsibility for executing company activities.
They advise management and boardroom members how best to perform their duties.
This accountant needs to be a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), internationally
accepted certificate for internal auditors. Newcomers need a Bachelor’s Degree
and two years of fieldwork. The national average salary ranges between $78,000
and $102,000.

• A compliance executive ensures that a company is operating within established
guidelines, government regulations and specifications. For example, financial
legislation came in response to scandals such as Enron and WorldCom.

Compliance executives protect the public and the company shareholders from
accounting errors or fraudulent practices. Since 2006, chief compliance
officers have high demand in large company or corporate environments.

• The financial analyst assists a growing company to achieve profitability. This
accountant works at banks, insurance companies, mutual funds, pension funds,
security firms and other financial-type businesses. The financial analyst reads
financial statements, analyzes commodity prices, reviews sales, costs, expenses
and tax rates to determine future earnings or current business value.

Financial analysts study an industry, current business trends and competition
in the industry. This accountant is in demand especially for management and
senior executive positions, commanding a high salary.

• Staff accountants hold long-standing top accounting careers. They are
responsible for compiling financial information and journal entries for company
accounts and perform account reconciliations. Staff accountants deal with laws
and regulations governing accounting functions to ensure compliance.

This person gathers financial information, prepares reports, records
information, classifies entries and summarizes financial transactions.
Requirements include three years of experience, especially in public
accounting. Compensation for staff accountants will climb at least 5% at large

• An external auditor is an independent accountant who comes to a location to
review records and make recommendations about financial statements, their
clarity and completeness. Financial statements must be free of misstatements
leading to charges of fraud. Their job is to investigate issues brought to the
attention of the external auditor by government authorities or local taxing

External auditors must be independent accountants. This is critical to a
complete, thorough appraisal of the financial condition of any company. If
there is an existing relationship between the company and the external auditor,
it must be part of the disclosure in the auditor’s report.

These independent accountants are holding a position in rising demand. Three to
seven years of experience and designation as a certified public accountant are
expectations for hiring an external auditor. Senior external auditors with
small firms will see a 5% rise in starting salaries over the next decade.

For those considering a career in accounting, these are the top five growth areas in the field of accounting.