most common accounting jobs and salaries

The 10 Most Common Accounting Jobs and Salaries in 2021-2022

Locating the most common accounting jobs and salaries are 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.

Table of Contents

Common Accounting Jobs and Salaries

common accounting jobs

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 $44,480 per year. You should obtain at least an undergraduate in Accounting for this position. CPA credentials can boost your opportunities of landing better jobs and making more at approximately $71,550 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 in 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 consultation 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 that 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 for maintaining or upgrading 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)

common accounting jobs

The primary function of a CFO is financial management. This is a senior position where you will be managing risks, do financial planning, and keep 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 that are future CFOs earn an average of $129,890. Higher positions that involve corporate financials with experience and in a management position can make upwards of $208,000 per year.

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

Auditor

common accounting jobs and salaries

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 $44,480 per year. With experience, you can earn on average $71,550 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 $132,494 per year, with an average of $202,692 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 in 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 $51,834 to $63,335 on average per year. 

Finance Manager

common accounting jobs and salaries

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 for the company’s investments with long-term success in mind. You will be doing reports of these investigations and relay it to upper management for evaluation.

Financial managers need to have at least an undergraduate degree in accounting to be qualified. Entry level financial managers earn roughly $68,370 with senior positions earning you around $208,000 per year.

Forensic Accountant

This is a specialized field in Accountancy 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 in tracking people and groups in question. In conducting the investigation, Forensic Accountants reconstruct details of the financial sheets and testify 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 $71,550 and $124,550 per year.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

common accounting jobs and salaries

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 as an undergraduate or graduate level). CPAs earn an average of $71,550 per year; however, with experience, they can earn upwards of $124,450 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 comfortable using accounting tools or software.

An undergraduate in Accounting is a prerequisite for entry-level positions. You will earn between $41,230 to $62,410 per year with this job.

Bookkeeper

common accounting jobs and salaries

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 $41,230 to $62,410 per year.

Other accounting jobs that may be suitable for you:

  • Staff Accountant
  • Accounts Receivable Specialist
  • Accounting Manager

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.  

Check this out for more information: THE 30 HIGHEST PAYING ACCOUNTING JOBS AND SALARIES and THE ULTIMATE ACCOUNTING CAREER GUIDE: SALARY AND DEGREE INFO

Do you need to earn an MBA degree? We’ve got your back! THE 25 BEST MASTER’S IN BUSINESS (MBA) GRAD SCHOOL PROGRAMS