There are many types of jobs available to graduates who hold accounting degrees -- and graduates aren’t necessarily limited to crunching numbers and creating financial statements. The types of employment and number of opportunities available to an accounting graduate depend on the type of degree held by the applicant. While jobs are available for multiple degree levels, an applicant with a higher degree can expect more opportunities and better pay.
Graduates who hold a 2-year associate’s degree in accounting may find employment in general accounting, payroll, or small-business bookkeeping. However, positions available to those with associate's degrees may be limited to entry-level and clerk positions that do not carry substantial salaries. This is due to many employers looking for accountants with at least a 4-year accounting degree. It is not impossible to find accounting jobs with this level of education, especially when an applicant also has some on-the-job experience as well. The career services desk or alumni association at the graduate’s alma mater may be able to offer reliable job leads to those who have earned an associate’s degree in accounting.
A variety of jobs are available to those with a 4-year bachelor’s degree in accounting. Common job titles include staff accountant, general accountant, payroll technician, tax preparer and finance or budget analyst. Some companies may offer these positions at the entry level or new-graduate level, while other companies may require applicants to have some previous on-the-job experience. New graduates may consider a paid internship with one of the Big-4 accounting firms -- Deloitte, Price Waterhouse Coopers, KPMG or Ernst and Young. These firms offer a variety of entry-level accounting internships geared toward providing new graduates with hands-on experience and possible permanent positions.
Those who hold a master’s degree in accounting may be eligible for higher levels of employment, such as comptroller, director or senior accountant positions. These positions typically carry management responsibilities and higher pay. In addition, if you hold a master’s degree in accounting, you are eligible to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam. Becoming a CPA allows you to perform audits, which may make you a more attractive applicant for corporate accounting firms. While it is not necessary to become a CPA to perform most accounting-based jobs, employers associate the CPA designation with accounting, and therefore often seek and prefer to hire CPAs. Accountants who hold a master’s degree may also find jobs teaching accounting courses at a college or university.
Federal, state and local government offices offer many different types of accounting-based positions. Government positions are typically offered at various levels, which opens up opportunities to those who possess a variety of educational and experiential backgrounds. In the accounting sector, government positions can range from entry level to advanced and may include general accounting, payroll, finance and budget analyst jobs. Revenue agents, tax collectors and assessors, compliance officers and forensic auditors are examples of specialty government jobs. Government positions tend to offer competitive pay and benefits, as well as retirement plans. In addition, those who work full-time for a government agency may be eligible to have a portion of their student loan debt cancelled under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
- IRS: Students and Recent Grads: Entry Level Accounting, Business and Finance Jobs with the IRS
- Forbes: The Best Accounting Firms to Work For
- Accounting Coach: Accounting Degrees
- Federal Student Aid: Public Service Loan Forgiveness
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Accountants and Auditors -- Similar Occupations
- New Accountant USA: Governmental Accounting Career Opportunities
- Accounting Majors.com: Internships for Accounting Students
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Accountants and Auditors