The field of accounting can be a lucrative career path. Accountants earn a median wage well above that of all occupations, and if you move up into a senior leadership position, salaries in the six-figure range are well within the realm of possibility. For any of these well-paid career paths, you need at least an undergraduate degree, if not a graduate degree, as well as appropriate professional certifications and a great deal of experience.
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Management Roles in Accounting and Business
In both public and corporate accounting, leadership roles tend to have the highest earning potential. According to the Robert Half Salary Guide, executive leadership roles in corporate accounting – such as Chief Audit Executive, Vice President of Internal Audit and Internal Audit Director – can earn more than $282,000 at the 95th percentile of the pay scale. Other job titles in which wages in the $200,000 range are possible, at least in the highest paid positions, include Senior Managers and Directors of Audit/Assurance Services. Information Technology Auditor Managers, Internal Auditor Managers and Tax Accountant Managers earn six-figure midpoint salaries, as well.
If you want to work in a leadership position, your bachelor’s in accounting degree might not be enough. Often, managers in the field of accounting also have a graduate degree. Depending on the role to which you aspire, you may also need professional certification.
Master of Science in Accounting, Master of Accountancy and Master of Business Administration degrees are all possible paths you could take to move into a leadership role in accounting.
Senior Accounting Positions
You don’t have to be a boss to make a good living as an accountant. Whether you don’t care for the office politics of working in administration or you simply enjoy the work of accounting too much to focus your attention on managing other people, you can earn high wages as an accountant or auditor. As you gain experience, you can move into senior accounting roles that have high rates of pay. Senior cost accountants in the field of corporate accounting earn a midpoint salary of $ 77,000 or a 95th percentile wage of $ 117,250. The midpoint salary for senior internal auditors is $85,000, though the highest-paid senior internal auditors earn $118,000 per year. Senior IT auditors make $90,000 at the midpoint or $143,250 at the 95th percentile. Even among senior general accountants, the midpoint salary is $ 75,000, and the top salaries for the job title are $115,000 or more.
Many factors go into attaining a promotion to high-level accounting roles. Experience in an especially significant factor, but your level of education, your professional credentials and the impression you have made on your company or clients throughout those years of experience also matter. In particular, accounting professionals who are licensed as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) see increased earning potential compared to their peers without this credential. Having your CPA license raises your salary by 10 to 15 percent at every level of experience.
Over a lifetime of work as an accountant, having your CPA license translates to an additional one million dollars of income, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants reported.
Financial Specialist Jobs
Accountants fit into a classification of jobs that the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calls financial specialist. Financial specialists work with money in some capacity. While students of accounting degree programs naturally learn the skills and knowledge used in the accounting profession, they also complete core coursework in other business subjects, such as finance, economics and business administration.
Their knowledge of accounting principles and practices as well as a breadth of subject matter in other areas of business allows graduates of accounting degree programs to transition into other financial specialist roles. An accounting degree can prepare you for roles such as financial managers, financial analyst, personal financial advisor and financial examiner as well as accountant or auditor, according to the BLS. If you think you want the flexibility of a financial specialist career path, you might want to consider pursuing an academic concentration, a minor or a dual major in finance or business administration to help you develop a broader set of skills with regards to providing financial analysis and advice.
Accountant is the largest occupation within the category of financial specialist.