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10 Most Common Accounting Jobs and Salaries

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Updated: March 18, 2024, Reading time: 11 minutes

most common accounting jobs and salaries

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Locating the most common accounting jobs and salaries is a legitimate concern among prospective students who are contemplating a career in the field. As the term “accounting” can cover a wide array of career options, you should know which ones are most widely available and your potential earnings.

There are many accounting specializations; however, with an undergraduate degree in accounting, most graduates find that entry-level positions are readily available for them. If you wish to procure an advanced position in management or, perhaps, go into a specific concentration within accounting, a master’s degree may be required.

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Common Accounting Jobs and Salaries

Tax Accountant

This is the most common route for accounting graduates. A tax accountant’s job is to look into financial records and taxes for an individual, private companies, corporations, or organizations. You’ll need to assess if the company is running efficiently and profitably.

On average, entry-level accountants earn $78,000 per year. You should obtain at least an undergraduate degree in accounting for this position. CPA credentials can boost your opportunities of landing better jobs and making more at approximately $132,690 annually.

Tax accountants are categorized into public accountants, management accountants, and government accountants. In any of these, you need to have a strong foundational knowledge of taxation laws. You also have to be adept at dealing with financial disclosures.

Public accountants perform a broad spectrum of tasks aside from accounting, such as consultations and audits for individuals, corporations, and government entities.

They conduct tax reform consultations and make recommendations for tax advantages, income returns, and similar tax matters concerning businesses and organizations.

To become a public accountant, you’ll need to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and have your financial reports checked by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for annual and quarterly reports.

A popular Public Accounting specialization is Forensic Accounting, which involves investigating embezzlements and frauds and testifying in court.

Management Accountants are also known as private or corporate accountants. Though your function will be similar to that of a public accountant, the reports you’ll be making will be for internal purposes and not for public use. You will work on budgeting, costing, and performance evaluation.

You will work closely with asset managers who set allocations for various securities to maintain or upgrade business profitability.

Government Accountants examine and maintain government finances. They also audit private businesses or individuals to ensure that revenues from their taxes are allocated and used in accordance with the law.

common accounting jobs

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

The primary function of a CFO is financial management. This is a senior position where you will be managing risks, doing financial planning, and keeping financial records. You also will assess cash flows, business performances, market opportunities, and risks.

As CFO, you oversee the financial performance of all company departments, including IT, Human Resources, Accounting, and Finance.

A CFO’s reports are directly communicated to the CEO for evaluation and implementation of plans. Entry-level financial managers who are future CFOs earn an average of $139,790. Higher positions that involve corporate financials with experience and in a management position can make upwards of $239,200 per year.

To become a CFO, you’ll need to have an undergraduate degree in accounting and at least five years of relevant work experience. Occasionally, a master’s degree is required.

Auditor

An auditor’s primary task is to check an organization’s financial sheets for accuracy and regulatory compliance. You will test and validate the consistency of accounting methods used by internal accountants.

External auditors are tasked to check for financial information and techniques on behalf of another taxing entity or government agency. Internal auditors ensure the validity of their accounting methods and find ways to improve the organization’s financial situation.

To become an auditor, you will need to have an undergraduate degree in accounting or finance. CPAs have higher opportunities for job employment. According to the BLS, on average, entry-level auditors earn roughly $48,560 per year. With experience, you can earn an average of $78,000 annually. 

Controller

A controller’s primary responsibility is to manage Accounting department personnel. Being in a senior management position, the controller looks into the financial activities of the company and reports these assessments directly to the CFO. Some smaller companies combine the job of a CFO and a controller.

To become a controller, you will need to have at least an undergraduate degree in accounting. On average, controllers earn at least $175,554 per year, with an average of $252,144 annually.

Cost Accountant

Unlike a regular accounting job, a cost accountant’s task is to measure all costs needed to produce a good or deliver a service. You will determine the fixed and variable budget for these services and products, such as overhead costs, R&D (research and development), equipment costs, depreciation costs, and marketing.

The data will be used for budget allocation, financial projection, and expense evaluation. You will likely work directly with other senior accountants and develop strategies for reaching business goals for the company.

To become a cost accountant, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in finance or accounting and relevant work experience. Entry-level Cost Accounting positions pay between $61,720 to 75,920 on average per year. 

Finance Manager

Financial managers assess and evaluate the financial health of the institution with a high capacity to foresee risks and opportunities in various industries.

You should have an extensive background in statistics, analytics, and research as you will be planning for the direction of the company’s investments with long-term success in mind.

You will be making reports of these investigations and relaying them to upper management for evaluation.

Financial managers need to have at least an undergraduate degree to be qualified. Entry-level financial managers earn roughly $79,050, with senior positions, who have graduate degrees, earning you around $239,200 per year. In addition, doctorate degrees in the field of finance are available.

Forensic Accountant

This is a specialized field in accounting where the principles of accounting and law intertwine. As a forensic accountant, you will investigate unusual or suspicious financial activities of an individual, a private company, or an organization.

Forensic accountants are specially trained in unearthing financial frauds. You will likely be hired by the government to track people and groups in question. In conducting the investigation, forensic accountants reconstructed details of the financial sheets and testified in court with these findings.

common accounting jobs
forensic accountants

An academic background in Accounting or Finance and Law will get you the job. Forensic Accountants earn anywhere between $78,000 and $132,690 per year.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can take on positions such as business consultant, public or private accountant, or auditor. You will be handling tax preparations, financial consultations, and corporate financial data. Because of their extensive training, CPAs are qualified for senior positions such as Chief Financial Officer or Financial Manager.

The CPA exam is a four-part series that needs to be taken after graduating from accounting (whether at an undergraduate or graduate level). CPAs earn an average of $78,000 per year; however, with experience, they can earn upwards of $132,690 or more annually.

Accounts Payable Specialist

An account payable specialist does the work of a clerk but specializes in outgoing payments. You process payrolls and invoices, process check requests, give out payments, and keep records of these payments.

Considering the nature of the job, accounts payable specialists need to possess high attention to detail and be comfortable using accounting tools or software.

An undergraduate degree in accounting is a prerequisite for entry-level positions. You will earn between $45,860 to $65,540 per year with this job.

Bookkeeper

As a bookkeeper, you will sort through numerous financial accounts. You will document all transactions in the general ledger. You will create financial statements and other reports that are necessary for taxation or upper management information. Some bookkeepers do this on a per-project basis or as freelancers for small businesses and individuals.

To become a bookkeeper, you’ll need to have at least some certification or undergraduate degree in accounting. Bookkeepers earn $45,860 to $65,540 per year.

Other Accounting Jobs that may be Suitable for You

At GradSchoolCenter.com, we hope that the above list will help you make an informed decision about which branch of accounting is a good fit for you. While others may provide a better salary, the above ten jobs are the most popular career choices in accounting to consider.

Think about beginning your career in one of these fine entry-level positions, and then, after gaining some valuable experience, you will qualify for a management position or specialization in the field of accounting. 

The sky’s the limit within the versatile field of accounting, and some jobs can be classified as a “work-at-home” option. In addition, you may choose to earn a Ph.D. in Accounting as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a major challenge facing the Accounting profession today?

One major challenge facing the accounting profession today is technological disruption. With advancements in artificial intelligence and automation, many routine accounting tasks are becoming automated, requiring accountants to adapt and develop new skills in order to remain relevant.

Additionally, the rise of online accounting software and cloud-based services has drastically changed the way accountants work and interact with clients, leading to a shift in the traditional role and value of accountants. This also presents challenges in terms of data security and privacy, as accountants handle the sensitive financial information of their clients.

As technology continues to evolve, the accounting profession will need to continuously adapt and evolve along with it in order to stay competitive.

What do Accountants enjoy about their job?

Without a doubt, there are many aspects of accounting to enjoy, such as:

How will I know if Accounting is the right career choice for me?

You should definitely research the job responsibilities before deciding whether accounting is the right career choice for you. It is important to have a clear understanding of what the job entails. Research the different roles and responsibilities of an accountant to see if they align with your interests and strengths.

Accounting requires attention to detail, strong analytical skills, and a high level of organization. Reflect on your skills and strengths to see if they are a good fit for a career in accounting and you may want to talk with other accountants to get their viewpoints. Ask them about their experiences and the day-to-day tasks they perform.

Consider taking an introductory accounting course to get a feel for the subject matter and see if it comes naturally to you. This can also give you an idea of the type of work you may be doing as an accountant.

Accounting involves working with numbers and financial data on a daily basis. If you enjoy working with numbers and feel confident in your mathematical abilities, accounting may be a good fit for you.

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