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Last Updated: September 07, 2022

Career in Accounting

Accounting is a field of study that continues to have a projected growth of 7% between the years 2020 to 2030. There are over 135,000 career options within the field that do not run the risk of being cut down due to automation. The ever-expanding economy in addition to the increasing complexity of taxes means that there is a growing demand for accountants and auditors in the country. Candidates who have chosen this field of study will be able to find career options that suit their interests.

Benefits of Having an Accounting Career

Candidates who choose this field will also be able to find the potential of growing within the area as long as they keep increasing their educational and professional experience. Those within this field will have the opportunity of working in private and public organizations and at the same time, they will have the option of creating their own business owing to the financial management knowledge they have.

Candidates will be able to work in groups or individually depending on what they are comfortable with. And they will always have the option of switching careers if they are willing to take up different certification examinations. This will also provide them with experience in different fields within accounting which is a coveted skill by all accounting firms. The pay scale for accountants is also quite high irrespective of the job they choose.

Certifications to Take in Accounting

Candidates who have taken their undergraduate or graduate degree in accounting will be able to take certification examinations in the field to further increase their credibility. The certification that one is choosing should be based on the specialization they have chosen in their degree years for them to receive high-paying jobs within that area of specialization. A few of the best certifications that one can take include-
  1. CPA: The certified public accountant (CPA) is a designation awarded by a state or other governmental jurisdiction to individuals to practice as a licensed CPA. The candidate for the CPA must meet education, examination, and experience requirements.
  2. CMA: CMA stands for Certified Management Accountant and is administered by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). There are two parts to the exam and an applicant is expected to have at least 2 years of accounting-related experience before becoming certified. The CMA focuses more on company accounting management instead of the tax and auditing procedures tested on the CPA exam.
  3. CFA: The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam is administered by the CFA Institute. An applicant should expect the entire exam process to take significantly longer than the CPA exam because it is only offered on specific dates throughout the year. If investing and finance are areas that interest an applicant then the CFA exam will be a great fit for their career. It is also significantly more expensive to take the CFA exam.
  4. CIA: If an applicant has transitioned from public accounting into an internal audit role, the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) exam is a certification that they should consider. The CIA exam is one of the shortest of the professional certifications coming in at only 6.5 hours. Internal auditing plays a major role in any publicly-traded company and the procedures performed can be used in a limited sense by independent auditors, therefore clearing the CIA exam will open gates of opportunities for any prospective candidate.
  5. EA: The Enrolled Agent (EA) Exam, which is also known as the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE), is a three-part exam administered by Prometric on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service. Enrolled Agents, like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), have unlimited practice rights, meaning they are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can represent clients before.

Requirements for Certification Exams






Bachelor Degree






Work Experience






Exam Offered

4 Windows (2 Months Per Quarter)

1-2 Times Per Year

4 Windows (6 Months)

Year Round

Year Round

Exam Length

16 Hours

18 Hours

8 Hours

12 Hours

6.5 Hours

Number of Exam Parts






Exam Fees


$2,400 - $4,590




Exam Review Course Costs






Popular Accounting Career Options

Candidates who have taken up a career in accounting will have the potential to grow into other career options based on the certifications they take up. While not all career options can pay high salaries, candidates will find that there are enough and more career options they can choose from depending on their field of interest and the kind of work-life they prefer. A few of these options include-

Career Options with an Accounting Certificate

Candidates who have a degree in a business and management field and have further enhanced their qualifications with a certificate in accounting will be able to apply for entry-level jobs within the field. Though the pay for such jobs will not be high, candidates will be able to eventually increase their experience within the industry thereby getting better promotions and job offers. A few of the career options they will have after completing a certification program from a reputed institution are- Candidates will be able to get an average salary between $35,000 to $50,000 per year from such jobs.

Career Options with an Associate Degree

Candidates who have taken an associate degree in accounting will be able to take up jobs at an entry-level within the field. Since this is only a 2-year program, candidates will only be introduced to the different aspects of the field allowing them to take up occupations that will not require specialized knowledge in the field. At the same time, certain associate degrees will provide a specialization option within the professional domain of a field of study that will enable them to get higher pay within the set field. A few of the career options one can take up with an associate degree include- These jobs will provide them with an estimated salary between $50,000 to $53,000 per year on average.

Career Options with a Bachelor’s Degree

Candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in the field will be able to take up higher job positions within accounting. Most often, the credits they have earned from a bachelor’s degree will not be sufficient for them to take up certifications within the field. Hence, they will have to either take up a master’s degree before completing such certifications that can provide them with higher-paying jobs. Candidates will also be able to take up different specializations as part of the undergraduate degree allowing them to take up jobs within that very domain which will most often pay higher than other jobs they might seek.

A few of the job options one can pursue after completing a bachelor’s degree in the field include- The average salary that one can get in jobs with just a bachelor’s degree is estimated to be around $79,000 per year.

Career Options with a Master’s Degree

Those who have completed their master’s degree in the field will also have a specialization they are now qualified to work under. This will provide them with high-paying job opportunities that will most often be based on their area of specialization. Candidates will also be able to take up different certification examinations after fulfilling the required amount of credit hours for those examinations. A few of the examinations that one can take include-

Career Option with a Doctoral Degree

If an individual is interested in accounting as a scholarly practice, or if one is interested in the research behind the numbers, one may want to pursue a Ph.D. in accounting that lasts 4-7 years. Students in this program will be expected to do intensive writing and analysis of math, economics, accounting, research, and statistics, as well as have to complete their dissertations with original research. A student graduating with a Ph.D. in accounting can become a professor of the subject or can delve more into the research of economics.

Average Salary Prospects

The average salary that candidates will receive while working in this field will be entirely dependent on their qualification level and their previous work experience. This is one of those fields which provides candidates with high pay and according to the BLS handbook, the median annual wage for accountants is around $77,250 per year. This implies that while half of the people employed in this field received lesser than the median amount, the other half had a significantly higher salary when compared to the same.

Out of the people working in this field, those who are in the finance & insurance industry received the highest median income whereas those in the tax preparation & payroll services received the lowest. The lowest median income they received was around $77,080 per year.

High Paying Career Options for Accounting Graduates

Candidates who have completed their education in the field of accounting will have many career options to choose from. The career options can either be based on one of the specializations offered at undergraduate or postgraduate levels and at the same time they can be under generalized areas of accounting. There are an estimated 135,000 career openings in this field every year and there is an estimated growth of 7% from 2020 to 2030 for all occupations in this field. A few of the popular career options in this field are

Become an Accountant