Beginning your academic journey toward a new degree is preceded by a series of important decisions. The two biggest decisions many future students focus on are choosing the right university and degree program. While these are important, there’s a third consideration to keep in mind that may be just as, if not more, important: their future career path.
Carefully thinking out future career paths can benefit students at the beginning of their college career as well as at the end of it. For students of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree program, there are many options for post-graduation career paths. Here are five possible career options for a bachelor’s in accounting student:
1. Certified Public Accountant
The obvious career path for someone with an accounting degree is to become a CPA. In this role, you’ll likely work with a list of clients, which may consist of companies, individuals or government organizations, according to PayScale. You’ll be responsible for your clients’ accounting, taxing, reporting and auditing processes.
Although you’ll need to pass the CPA exam before you become a CPA. The prerequisites for taking the test are different in every state, so it’s important to check with your state’s board of public accountancy website before getting started.
As a CPA, it’s crucial that you keep up with any changes in regulations that affect your clients. Neglecting to do so could cause you to incorrectly file an important document, which can have far-reaching ramifications. Since regulations are subject to change, many states require that CPAs renew their licensure through continuing professional education courses, according to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.
The typical CPA works in an office setting using a computer for a large portion of tasks. CPAs can expect long hours, especially during tax season, which is during the first quarter of the year. According to Payscale, this profession has a median salary of $62,410.
Another excellent and common career path for someone with a bachelor’s in accounting is bookkeeping. This title dates back to when financial information was all stored in physical books, which needed to be balanced and reviewed on a regular basis. While many of a bookkeeper’s tasks today are carried out on a computer, the name has stuck.
As a bookkeeper, you’ll most likely be a staff member of a company or organization. You’ll be in charge of ensuring all tax documents are accurately filled out, and you’ll work closely with the company’s CPA to ensure everything is accurate. You’ll also oversee and manage the cash flow of the company; you’ll arrange for bills to be paid, and track payments made to the organization, PayScale explained. You’ll also be in charge of ensuring all employees are paid accurately and on time.
Bookkeepers work in an office setting and carry out a large part of their job duties on a computer. In addition to needing knowledge of accounting, bookkeepers should have good people skills and experience working with certain software programs like QuickBooks or a similar accounting program, and a spreadsheet processor like Microsoft Excel, PayScale pointed out. The average pay for a bookkeeper is $16.26 per hour. At that rate, working 40 hours a week, the average annual pay comes to $33,820.80.
3. Accounting Clerk
As an accounting clerk, you’d likely work with the bookkeeper on staff. You might take on a specific aspect of your company’s financials, like accounts receivable, payroll, accounts payable or purchasing.
If you pursue an accounting clerk position, you’ll likely gain valuable experience that will help you advance your career further, according to PayScale. Technically, an accounting degree isn’t required for this job, but it’ll put you ahead of the competition. In addition to being familiar with ledger accounts like accounts receivable or payable, accounting clerks should have knowledge of software like accounting programs and spreadsheets.
On average, an accounting clerk makes $15.30 an hour. At 40 hours a week, this comes to $31,824.00 a year, based on a report from PayScale.
4. Tax Accountant or Tax Manager
Tax Accountants are valuable assets for companies and individuals alike. Preparing tax documents can be incredibly complex and challenging, which is why knowledgeable tax accountants are highly sought out.
As a Tax Accountant, you’ll organize, prepare and send in tax documents for your clients. You’ll also strategize ways to reduce, defer or eliminate tax payments and work with corporate management to come up with taxation strategies. Your ultimate goal is to ensure each of your clients is correctly following all applicable tax laws, PayScale explained.
Considering how complex tax law is, it’s no surprise that tax accountants are in high demand. A report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement and executive coaching firm, showed that Tax Managers are among the hottest jobs for 2017, and the company expects this trend to stick around. Tax Accountants and Tax Managers will be necessary for as long as taxes exist.
Tax Accountant positions typically require applicants to have a CPA license. Additionally, Tax Accountants should have a financial background, and have excellent verbal communication skills. This will allow you to explain taxation strategies clearly to your clients without using jargon, PayScale explained.
In this position, you’ll likely work in an office setting, and can expect work to get hectic around tax season. The average pay for a tax accountant is $54,776 per year, according to Payscale.
5. Forensic Accountant
Forensic Accountants put their knowledge of finances to good use by detecting fraudulent attempts or activities. As a Forensic Accountant, you’ll probably assist police departments, government organizations, insurance companies or banks in identifying criminals. You may also be called upon to discuss complicated financial matters in court, and be asked to provide visuals to describe the relevant concepts, according to PayScale.
In addition to typical accounting and financial knowledge, Forensic Accountants must also be skilled information gatherers and analysts. Many employers prefer that Forensic Accountants have a CPA or similar certification. Additionally, since you’ll be working to help catch criminals, employers may require that you be able to pass a background check. Many Forensic Accountants need to be able to hold a certain level of security clearance.
Forensic Accountants often work in a collaborative environment where group problem solving and communication are important skills to master. To be successful as a Forensic Accountant, continuous professional education via workshops, classes and reading trade journals is advisable. The average annual salary for a forensic accountant is $63,645, according to PayScale.
A Bachelor of Science in Accounting from UAB can help excel your career
Choosing to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Accounting at UAB is an excellent first step in enjoying a successful career. Accounting professionals are in high demand, and that likely won’t change anytime soon. According to a Talent Shortage Survey from The ManpowerGroup, accounting and finance staff are some of the hardest positions for companies to fill, and have been for several years. With an accounting degree online from UAB, you’ll have a host of useful knowledge that many employers are actively seeking out. To learn more about UAB’s accounting degree programs, contact an enrollment advisor today.
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