What it’s like working as an accountant in the entertainment industry

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For individuals with a flair for numbers and an interest in show business, it can be challenging to find the perfect career path. One exciting potential option is entertainment industry accounting. The production organizations and creative individuals who make up the entertainment sector need competent professionals to handle their bookkeeping and keep their finances in order.

A film reel and clapboard symbolize the entertainment industry

Earning an in-demand entertainment accounting role may depend on an individual’s history and experience, both in previous positions and in specialized graduate-level studies. Financially gifted professionals may find it helpful to their future prospects to earn a degree such as a Master of Accounting (MAc). The coursework in such a program is designed to cover accounting-specific skills in detail, preparing graduates to take on complex and demanding bookkeeping roles.

Exploring the world of entertainment industry finance

As with any large industry, there are many paths to a career in the entertainment sector. Accounting roles in this space may differ in their duties and focus depending on the type of individuals or companies in need of financial services. Monster.com breaks entertainment industry accountancy into three general categories: boutique accounting firms, which serve the unique needs of high-earning VIPs, more general practices, which pitch their services to larger audiences of crew members and behind-the-scenes show business professionals, and corporate accounting departments, which run the numbers inside entertainment conglomerates.

The variety of roles for accountants in the entertainment industry mirrors the positions these professionals fill in other sectors. Whether an aspiring accountant is most interested in dealing with the taxes and other financial musts of private individuals or working as part of an organization’s team, there are entertainment jobs that may prove suitable. Managing an investment portfolio, ensuring finances are in compliance with all relevant laws, and filing taxes are all duties entertainment accountants handle for their clients, as they would in any field.

As for the factors that make entertainment a unique field for accountants, Robert Half points out that this industry features a heavy focus on intellectual property matters, such as copyright law and royalty management. Accountants who have some experience in these specific areas may find themselves well-suited to roles in show business financial departments.

Entertainment today, whether in television, film, online or other emerging channels, is an industry that crosses international borders often. People and companies who are active in many markets around the world may have more complex tax, investment, and general money management needs than those focused on single territories, which opens a potentially lucrative niche in the market for accountants.

Building skills for an entertainment accounting career

Entering the entertainment industry in an accounting role will likely require well-developed financial skills, even for entry-level positions. Investopedia points out that despite the general similarities between responsibilities in and outside of the show business sector, roles with connections to creative projects tend to come with glamor and prestige. On top of certifications such as certified public accountant status, accountants may have to add extra credentials to support their entry to the field. Building both fundamental and specialized accounting abilities could help candidates impress hiring managers.

For instance, it can benefit potential show business accountants to delve into the elements of tax law that are relevant to the entertainment sector, such as federal and state credits associated with placing productions in various regions. Performing an audit on the finances of a studio or other organization with ties to entertainment may involve untangling special exemptions encountered only in the world of television and film production.

Another skill worth developing is teamwork. While accounting may not traditionally be known as a heavily collaborative field, today’s organizations involve plenty of internal communication to get large projects done. Investopedia notes that collaborative abilities are relevant in a surprisingly large number of cases, and the accounting firms and departments serving the leaders of the entertainment industry will likely require all their personnel to be experts at accurate and efficient communication.

Coming into the field of entertainment accounting with some professional background in show business rather than accounting is a potential path to a role at a specialized firm, but that knowledge on its own will likely fail to win an individual a position. This is where an online MAc program can prove to be a valuable source of specialized information and expertise. These programs can prepare students to sit for the CPA exam and ensure their understanding of every element of accountancy is up to date.

Earning an online MAc degree

When an entertainment industry professional wants to move into accountant, or when an accountant desires a high-demand role as an entertainment accountant, applying for an online MAc program can serve as a practical next step. A program that is run 100% online allows students to keep up with their own full-time professional lives while still receiving an education from an accredited institution with faculty who bring industry expertise to their virtual classrooms.

The online MAc program at the Collat School of Business at the University of Alabama can prepare students to work toward professional accreditation and enable them to create valuable connections while they learn up-to-date accounting practices. Individuals whose undergraduate degrees are not in accounting can use the Accounting Bridge Program to quickly get up to speed on the core concepts before entering at the master’s level. In the entertainment industry or other high-demand sectors, this level of education may be pivotal in determining career potential.

Recommended Reading:

How the accounting bridge program can help you transition into the field

What you can learn about cost accounting


Robert Half – Look At What You Can Do With an Accounting Degree

Investopedia – A Look At Accounting Careers

Monster.com – Entertainment Accounting