Accountants enjoy a high degree of occupational mobility. Not only can they find work in virtually any geographical location, they can also find employment in any sector of the economy. Every company needs skilled accounting help; some businesses may use a single accounting consultant while larger companies and corporations employ vast teams of accountants specializing in different areas.
This occupational mobility also includes upward advancement in the accounting field. Since internal auditors are often primed for executive positions within a company, many public and management accountants eventually shift to internal auditing for career growth.
- Public accountants - Entry-level public accountants typically begin advancing and receiving more responsibility after one or two years in the field. A few years later, they will often move into a Senior Accountant role. Further advancement includes management of other accountants, opening their own accounting business, or transitioning to executive-level positions.
- Management accountants - Most management accountants enter the field as cost accountants, junior internal auditors or trainees for other specialized accounting positions. Typical advancement includes promotion to chief cost accountant, budget director, manager of internal auditing, and supervising other accountants.
- Internal auditors - Most often, professionals in this position begin in the public accounting or management accounting fields. Those beginning a career in internal auditing will learn the basics of the auditing function as well as the organization’s internal business-unit makeup. As they progress, internal auditors receive increased responsibilities such as evaluating the effectiveness of the company’s internal controls and fiscal management. They also may investigate the information systems for proper use and accuracy. Because of this in-depth knowledge of the organization’s internal operations, internal auditors often progress into executive positions.
Where do the work?
Accountants typically work in an office setting, although an increasing number of companies are allowing accountants to complete some work from home. Some accountants and auditors travel frequently in order to audit other branches, satellite offices, or client sites.
A 40-hour work week is standard although additional hours may be required prior to important deadlines such as year end and tax time. In addition, self-employed accountants often work beyond 40 hours, especially if they have a large number of clients. Other accountants may work on a contract basis – for example, tax specialists might choose to work only during tax season.
How do I advance in this career?
Individuals interested in a career as an accountant or auditor should have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting, business, or a related field. The greatest opportunity for advancement will be granted to those who take the extra step of earning certifications, most commonly exemplified by the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential. Obtaining a master’s degree in accounting or business with a concentration in accounting will also increase the rate of advancement in this field.
NOTE: The Bachelor of Science in Accounting program at Herzing University does not fulfull all of the requirements for a graduate to take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam or apply for licensure as a CPA in most states/jurisdictions. Most states/jurisdictions require a specific amount of study beyond a bachelor's degree (typically, a total of 150 semester credit hours, but this varies by state/jurisdiction) as well as several years of professional experience working in accounting to be eligible to apply for licensure. Some states (including, but not neccessarily limited to, Texas) require the program to have a specific programmatic accreditation for graduates to apply for licensure as a CPA, which this program does not have at this time, and no representation has been made to when or if such an accreditation will be obtained. Applicants interested in becoming a CPA should check with their state board of accounting prior to enrolling in any accounting program. Students planning to pursue certification other than the CPA exam should also contact with their state board of accounting prior to enrolling in any accounting program.