What Things Can You Do with an Accounting Degree

Created by Henry Steele

By Henry Steele - May 29, 2018
Reading Time: 9 minutes
Reading Time: 9 minutes

The United States economy is on the upswing, and as a result, there is substantial growth occurring in business and financial occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports job growth for all business and financial operations jobs will increase by 10% through 2026, which is faster than average. In that period, there will be 774,000 jobs created. A growing economy, globalization, and a more complex tax and regulatory environment will lead to a stronger demand for professionals in finance and accounting.

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Earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in finance and accounting is a good option to find many high paying accounting career opportunities in the expanding economy. Here are 12 things that you can do with this degree that will lead to a strong, progressive career.

#1 Accountant

The most popular occupation for a professional with a finance and accounting degree is an accountant or auditor. They are responsible for the preparation and examination of financial records for companies and individuals. Accountants and auditors must ensure that all financial records are completely accurate and that taxes have been paid in full and on time. Accountants and auditors are responsible for assessing financial operations and working to ensure that companies are run in an efficient financial manner.

See Also Accountant Salary

Accountants and auditors with a degree in finance and accounting typically have the following duties:

  • Perform examination of financial statements to ensure they are accurate and fully comply with laws and regulations
  • Compute the taxes that are owed, perform preparation of tax returns, and ensure that taxes have been properly paid and on time
  • Inspect the account records for the individual or business to ensure they are handled efficiently and are using accepted accounting procedures
  • Perform the maintenance and organization of financial records

With your degree, you can become either a public or management accountant. A public accountant performs many types of auditing, accounting, tax and consulting jobs. Common clients include governments, corporations and individuals. A management accountant is also referred to as a cost, managerial or private accountant who records and analyzes the financial information for the company for which they work.

Some professionals in accounting may want to become a Certified Public Accountant or CPA. This requires you to complete 150 hours of college courses, which is typically five years worth of education, and then pass the national CPA exam. Many schools now offer a five year, combined bachelor’s and master’s program for this purpose.

The median pay for accountants and auditors was $69,300 in 2017, with the top 10% earning more than $122,000. Job demand for accountants will increase by 10% by 2026, which is faster than average.

#2 Financial Analyst

Financial analysts are responsible for providing guidance to companies and individuals who are making investment decisions in stocks, bonds, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, gold, silver and others.

See Also Financial Analyst Salary

Financial analysts often have the following duties:

  • Provide customized recommendations of individual investments and investment collections, also known as portfolios
  • Evaluate historical and current financial data to determine which investments are performing the best
  • Study major business and economic trends
  • Examine the financial statements of a company to determine what the value is
  • Meet with company stakeholders to understand better what the prospects of the company are

Financial analysts are responsible for the careful evaluation of investment opportunities, and they often work in banks, mutual funds, securities firms, insurance companies and pension funds. Some financial analysts may be referred to as investment or securities analysts. These financial professionals today need to have a good working knowledge of major cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Ethereum, as there is some interest in investing in these currencies.

According to BLS, the median salary in this field is $84,300, with the top 10% earning more than $165,000 per year. The job outlook in the field is bright, with 11% job growth anticipated through 2026.

#3 Budget Analyst

A budget analyst assists public and private organizations to better organize their finances. They are largely responsible for preparing budget reports and to generally monitor how the organization is spending its money.

See Also Budget Analyst Salary Outlook

Some of the common jobs of budget analysts are;

  • Work with project and program management professionals to develop the budget for the organization
  • Review the budget proposals for accuracy, completeness, and how they comply with state and federal finance and tax laws
  • Combine the department and program budgets into a single, organizational budget and review all outstanding funding requests
  • Explain funding request recommendations to others in the company, to legislatures and the general public
  • Monitor the spending of the organization to ensure that it meets budgetary guidelines
  • Estimate what the future financial needs of the company or organization will be

Budget analysts with a strong background in finance and accounting are relied upon by governments, businesses and universities on how to best organize their finances. The work of budget analysts is critical to the financial health of the organization.

The median salary for budget analysts in 2017 was $75,200, with the top 10% earning $113,000. Job demand for budget analysts will increase by 7% through 2026, which is about average.

#4 Financial Manager

A financial manager is responsible for the overall financial health of the company or organization. They are in charge of producing financial reports, records, directing investment activities, and generally developing strategies and plans to further the long term financial goals of the company.

See Also Finance Manager Salary

Financial managers with a finance and accounting degree often have the following duties in their work:

  • Prepare financials, business activity papers and reports, and financial forecasts
  • Perform monitoring of financial details to make sure that all legal requirements are being met
  • Handle supervision of employees who are doing financial budgeting and reporting
  • Review financial reports for the company and look for ways to cut costs

The job of the financial manager has changed somewhat in recent times as they do not need to spend the time they once did to produce financial reports. The major responsibility of financial managers today is to do data analysis and provide advice to senior managers on how to improve profits.

Some of the most common types of financial managers are:

  • Controller: Directs how financial reports are prepared, and then summarizes and forecasts the financial position of the organization.
  • Treasurer and finance officer: Directs the budget of the organization to meet financial goals.
  • Credit manager: Oversees the credit business of the company.
  • Cash manager: Controls and monitors the cash flow into and out of the company.
  • Risk manager: Control the level of financial risk the company has by using techniques to limit the chance of financial loss.

An emerging area in the finance field is blockchain technology, which is a digital, widely distributed transaction ledger with completely identical copies keep on each member’s computer in the enfire network. This technology will be increasingly used in the financial markets in coming years with the use of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Financial managers will need to have a good understanding of blockchain and major cryptocurrencies in their organizations.

The median salary for financial managers in 2017 was $125,000, with the top 10% earning more than $200,000 each year. Job demand for this field will increase by 19% through 2026, much faster than average.

#5 Financial Examiner

Financial examiners are finance and accounting professionals who ensure public and private organizations are staying compliant with laws that government financial organizations and financial transactions. They are responsible for reviewing balance sheets, evaluating the risk of loans, and assessment the stability of bank management.

See Also Risk Analyst Salary

Among the duties of financial examiners are:

  • Monitoring the financial condition of financial institutions
  • Perform regular review of their balance sheets, expenses and income, and documentation of loans to confirm what the organization’s assets and liabilities are
  • Prepare reports that describe the safety and soundness of the financial institution
  • Examine the meeting minutes of directors and managers
  • Train other financial examiners about the financial examination process
  • Review and analyze new financial policies and regulations to determine how they will affect the organization

One of the growing areas of work for financial analysts is in consumer compliance lending to ensure that all borrowers are being treated in a fair manner. They must ensure that banks are giving out loans that borrowers have the ability to pay back. This is a very important function in the aftermath of the last financial downturn.

The median salary for financial examiners was $81,600 in 2017, with the top 10% earning more than $153,800 per year. The job outlook is solid with 10% job growth anticipated through 2026. Demand for these workers is rising in the financial industry, as there are tougher federal rules in place that govern lending and financial transactions.

#6 Personal Financial Advisor

A personal financial advisor’s role is to provide advice on insurance, investments, mortgages, college savings, taxes, retirement and estate planning. They are responsible for assessing the complex financial needs of their clients and helping them to make investments that make sense for them. They also must make appropriate recommendations for their clients regarding insurance and tax laws.

See Also Financial Advisor Salary

Common duties of personal financial advisors are:

  • Meet with financial clients in person to discuss what their financial goals are
  • Explain the different types of financial services available for clients
  • Educate clients and provide answers to vital questions about their investment options and possible risks
  • Help clients to plan for certain circumstances, such as retirement or education expenses

The median salary in this field is $90,600, with the top 10% earning more than $208,000 per year. Job demand will grow by a healthy 15% by 2026, which is much faster than average.

#7 Actuary

An actuary performs analysis of the financial costs of uncertainty and risk. The are experts in the use of statistics, mathematics and financial theory to determine what the risk is of a certain event. They help companies to develop new policies that reduce the cost of the risk. The work of actuaries is very important in the insurance industry.

Some of the critical duties of actuaries are:

  • Compiling statistical data and other important information for analysis
  • Estimate what the chances are and economic cost of an event – death, sickness or accident, for example
  • Design, test, and administer different insurance policies, pension plans and investments to reduce risk

The median salary for this field is $101,500, with the top 10% earning $184,000 per year. Jobs in this field will increase by a robust 22% by 2026, which is much faster than average.

#8 Insurance Underwriter

An insurance underwriter makes the decision on whether the company will provide insurance coverage or not, and under which conditions. They also are responsible for evaluating insurance applications and determining appropriate premiums and amounts. Underwriters are the major link between the insurance company and the agent, and today use computer software to determine if the application should be approved or not.

See Also Insurance Underwriter Salary

Important duties for these professionals are:

  • Analyze customer information that is provided on the insurance application
  • Determine what the risk is for insuring the client
  • Screen insurance applicants on basis of predetermined criteria
  • Decide if the insurance should be offered or not

The median salary for insurance underwriters in 2017 was $68,700, with the top 10% earning $123,600. Job demand in this field will fall in the coming years by up to 5%, but there is still need for manual underwriters who must manually approve some applications.

#9 Loan Officer

A loan officer is responsible for evaluating, authorizing and recommending the approval of loan applications for businesses and people. They use underwriting procedures to assess if the applicant can qualify for the loan or not.

After collecting and verifying the necessary financial documents, the loan officer then evaluates the data to determine if the person has the ability to pay back the loan. The majority of companies today use underwriting software; this produces a recommendation for the loan based upon financial status.

Typical duties of loan officers are:

  • Contact organizations or people and inquire if they need loans
  • Meet with applicants for loans and obtain personal information
  • Explain the different types of loans that are available and what the terms are
  • Analyze the financial information provided and make determination if loan can be approved

The median salary for this field in finance is $64,600, with the top 10% earning $135,500. The demand for jobs for loan officers will grow by 11% through 2026, which is faster than average.

#10 Tax Examiners and Collectors, And Revenue Agents

These tax professionals determine what people and businesses owe in taxes and then collect them from the organization or person per state or federal requirements. They also are responsible for reviewing tax returns, conducting tax audits, identifying what taxes are owed and collecting payments that are overdue.

See Also Tax Analyst Salary

Typical duties of these tax workers are;

  • Review tax returns that have been filed and determine if deductions or credits should be issued
  • Contact taxpayers to deal with tax problems and request more documentation
  • Conduct audits in the field and check into investigations of income tax returns
  • Keep careful records on each case they work on

The median salary for tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents was $53,100 in 2017, with the top 10% earning more than $99,000 per year. There will be little to no change with job growth in the coming years with this position.

#11 Cost Examiner

A cost examiner is responsible for collecting and analyzing data to estimate the time, materials, money and labor that is needed to manufacture a product, provide a service or build a building. Most cost examiners are specialists in certain industries or products. Major duties of cost examiners are:

  • Identify the major factors that affect costs, such as materials, production time and labor
  • Collaborate with architects, engineers, clients and contractors
  • Recommend best practices to reduce costs
  • Work with sales professionals to prepare estimates and bids for new clients
  • Maintain careful records of actual and estimated costs

The median salary for cost estimators in 2017 was $63,100, with the top 10% earning more than $106,000 per year. Job growth for cost estimators is expected to rise an above average 11% through 2026.

#12 Operations Research Analyst

An operations research analyst uses analytical and mathematical methods to assist organizations to solve complicated business problems and to generally make more profitable and efficient business decisions.

See Also Operations Analyst Salary

Common duties of operations research analysts include:

  • Identify and solve issues in business, logistics, healthcare and other fields
  • Collect necessary input from workers regarding all areas of the problem so that the issue can be solved
  • Examine critical business and problem information to determine what is most relevant to the problem and what the methods are to solve it best
  • Provide advice to managers and other stakeholders about the effects taking various steps will have on solving the problem

The median salary in this field as of 2017 was $81,300, with the top 10% earning $134,500. Job demand for operations research analysts will rise by 27% through 2026, which is much faster than average.

Professionals with a finance and accounting degree can expect to have strong demand for their services as the US economy continues with solid growth and low unemployment for the foreseeable future.


Henry Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of BusinessStudent.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

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