What Can You With an Accounting Degree?

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If you’re good with numbers, you might be thinking of pursuing an accounting degree. You may also be exploring questions such as, What can you do with an accounting degree? What jobs you can get with an accounting degree? And is accounting a good job?

Accounting can indeed be an appealing career field, and what’s more, there are many different types of accounting jobs to choose from. One of the reasons why accounting can be a great choice is its job growth projections.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates job growth for accountants and auditors to increase by about 4% from 2022 to 2032, as fast as average, estimating an addition of 67,400 jobs in the field.1 Keeping this job outlook in mind, here are some additional things to consider when pursuing a career in accounting.

In This Article:

What Does an Accountant Do?

You may be asking yourself, Is accounting a good job? It certainly can be if you’re fascinated by all things finance. An accountant is responsible for maintaining and analyzing the financial records of individuals, businesses or organizations. Accountants ensure the accuracy of financial reporting and tax compliances to provide insight that can help their clients make informed financial decisions.

Because dealing with finances is a significant task, various accounting subfields have developed to manage different processes and keep things running smoothly. For example, some accountants specialize in handling a business’ taxes while others focus on international accounting.

Important Accounting Skills

If you are considering this career path, it is important to know what makes a great accountant. Some of the valuable skills that accountants need include:2, 3

  • Basic math: Most people think that accountants must be math experts, but this is not entirely true. Accountants typically need only basic math skills to handle responsibilities like analyzing and comparing numbers.4
  • Attentiveness: Accounting is all about the details, which is why good accountants are attentive. Because accountants are responsible for financial data, they must pay close attention to every detail to avoid making any mistakes that could impact a company’s cash flow.
  • Analytical focus: Accountants do not just keep track of financial data; they also analyze data to help their clients make the best decisions for their success and growth.
  • Organization: Accountants must be highly organized so they can handle multiple clients, meet deadlines and follow proper reporting guidelines. Each client comes with substantial documentation that an accountant must track and keep organized.
  • Communication: A key requirement for any accounting job is sharing data with clients. That is why it is important for accountants to have good communication skills. The ability to communicate well allows accountants to share information in a way that clients can understand.

Common Accounting Job Responsibilities

While there is no set list of responsibilities that every accountant will encounter during their career, there are a few common responsibilities that many accountants handle, which include:

  • Compiling financial data: Accountants are typically responsible for compiling and organizing financial data. This data can include purchase receipts, sales records and other statements. Along with compiling data, accountants must ensure that all figures are accurate and all documents comply with current laws and regulations.
  • Preparing financial reports: Clients rely on accountants to help them figure out how to achieve growth. Accountants are responsible for using the information they have gathered to prepare financial reports. These reports help clients understand their current financial situations and determine if they should make changes within their company.
  • Issuing invoices: All companies need to make money, which is why they need to charge customers in a timely and organized manner. Accountants often shoulder this responsibility. In addition to issuing invoices, accountants must also keep track of who has or has not paid their invoices.
  • Managing payroll: Accountants can also take on the responsibility of managing payroll for their clients. This responsibility includes keeping track of how many hours each employee works and how much each employee should be paid.

Considering all this, you may be wondering, Do you need a degree to be an accountant? Yes, accountants typically need at least a bachelor’s degree, while some employers prefer to hire those with a master’s degree.2

Earning a Master’s in Accounting

After earning a bachelor’s degree, aspiring accountants may wish to earn their Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) degree or Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an Emphasis in Accounting as well as their certified public accountant (CPA) credential. A master's degree in accounting allows you to develop in-depth knowledge of advanced accounting topics and can help you position yourself for possible career advancement. 

Different Types of Accounting Jobs

Accounting plays an important role in every industry, which is why there are many different types of jobs you can get with an accounting degree. After earning an accounting degree, graduates can pursue a variety of accounting-related careers, including:5, 6 

  • Accounting assistant: These entry-level accounting jobs may be an option for those starting off in the field. Graduates may begin by updating various financial statements, assisting with payroll management or helping draft financial reports for the company.
  • Financial accountants: These accountants typically work for a company and handle all the responsibilities discussed above. Financial accountants are foundational for businesses and corporations because they handle all financial transactions.
  • Tax accountants: Accountants with expertise in taxes typically handle state and federal tax returns for both individuals and businesses. These professionals assist with tax preparation and audits.
  • Governmental accountants: As the job title implies, governmental accountants work within governmental agencies to track resource allocation and monitor the agency’s budget.
  • Forensic accountants: These accountants provide litigation support and investigative services. They work with law enforcement to uncover the truth about shady financial situations.

Accounting Degree Career Paths

As you can see, there are many career paths you may pursue with an accounting degree. Let’s take a closer look at some specific career paths.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

A career as a CPA is a common choice for those who study accounting.7 These professionals work with individuals and companies, providing financial planning and tax guidance. They may work on major corporate mergers and acquisitions, as well as individual tax returns.

It is even possible to become an entrepreneur as a CPA. You may one day decide to open an accounting firm.

The job duties of a CPA will typically include:

  • Checking financial statements for accuracy and legal compliance
  • Preparing tax returns, calculating tax liabilities and ensuring timely payment
  • Organizing and updating financial records
  • Evaluating financial operations and identifying methods for boosting profits while reducing costs

It is important to note that not all accountants are CPAs. A CPA is an accountant who has passed the challenging CPA Exam.2

Insurance Underwriter

Students who are studying accounting might want to consider a career as an insurance underwriter.8 As the title suggests, these professionals work within the insurance industry. Their primary job function is to evaluate insurance applications and decide whether to offer insurance coverage.

Their specific tasks may include reviewing insurance applications and analyzing information; assessing the degree of risk involved with providing insurance and making recommendations on whether to insure the applicant; and establishing recommended amounts of coverage and insurance premiums.

Insurance underwriters use complex software to assess applications and make coverage determinations. Some applications, such as those for car insurance, are relatively straightforward. Others are complex, such as workers’ compensation applications. In all cases, insurance underwriters must carefully consider the degree of risk involved.

Market Research Analyst

If you see yourself in a corporate environment someday, you might consider pursuing a career as a market research analyst. The main responsibility of these professionals is to evaluate the marketability of a new product or service. Competencies in accounting can be helpful for this career.9

Market research analysts accomplish this by analyzing datasets and by monitoring and predicting sales trends. Although they work in the marketing and advertising field, these professionals primarily work with data — they are not copywriters.

The typical job responsibilities of a market research analyst can include the following:

  • Developing and implementing data collection methods
  • Using statistical software to analyze the data and converting the findings into easily understood charts, tables and graphs
  • Preparing reports on their findings and discussing them with executives or clients
  • Evaluating the impact of implemented marketing strategies

Earn Your Accounting Degree From GCU

No matter where your future leads you, you can prepare for it at Grand Canyon University. We offer a number of options for business-minded students, including the Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree program. Fill out the form on this page to explore your future at GCU.

1 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 to 2022 may be atypical compared to prior years. Accordingly, data shown is effective September 2023, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accountants and Auditors, retrieved Jan. 16, 2024. 

2 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, Sept. 6). How to become an accountant or auditor. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Jan. 16, 2024. 

3 Indeed. (2023, Aug. 7). 12 skills accountants need for workplace success. Retrieved Jan. 16, 2024.

4 Struyk, T. (2023, Jan. 4).  A look at accounting careers. Investopedia. Retrieved Jan. 31, 2024. 

5 Indeed. (2023, July 31). 10 jobs for accounting majors with salary information. Retrieved Jan. 16, 2024.

6 Indeed. (2023, Dec. 20). Top 8 Accounting certifications to enhance your career. Indeed. Retrieved Jan. 31, 2024. 

7 Indeed. (2023, March 10). 9 types of accounting (plus 5 in-demand accountant careers). Indeed. Retrieved Jan. 16, 2024. 

8 Hall, M. (2022, Oct. 19). How to become an underwriter. Investopedia. Retrieved Jan. 16, 2024.

9 College Consensus. (2020, September 29). Best degrees to become a market research analyst. Retrieved Jan. 16, 2024. 

Approved by the academic program manager of the Colangelo College of Business on Feb. 5, 2024.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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