What Career Options Does an Accounting Degree Unlock?
By Ashford University Staff
Educators, advisors, and even family members are regularly quizzed by prospective students about what jobs are available with certain degrees. Students typically don’t want to pigeonhole themselves into a profession with limited upside potential. Considering the time commitment and cost, it makes sense to know potential options.
Mention an accounting degree, and you may have visions of lots of math and dimly lit cubicles in some back room of a business. If you have this vision of accounting, you would be mistaken. Today, an accounting degree opens up a vast number of career opportunities in fields as diverse as medicine, nonprofit, and government, just to name a few. Sure, the traditional accounting positions like auditing, payroll, cost accounting, analyst, and controller are also available and are projected to have a faster than average growth rate in the coming years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but with an accounting degree there are even more options available.
Why You Should Consider an Accounting Degree
It is often said that getting a general business degree leaves lots of areas open for career possibilities. Interestingly enough, an accounting degree does the same thing, but it also includes the traditional accounting positions that a general business degree doesn’t offer.
The accounting curriculum at Ashford University enables students to better understand the environment a business operates in, both internally and externally. Exposure to economics, quantitative methods, business administration, as well as the traditional accounting functions prepare students to work in the rapidly changing technological business environment of today. Accounting is logical and verifiable, much like computer programming. It also incorporates ethics and analytical capabilities into the curriculum, both of which are essential to running a successful business today.
For example, many entrepreneurs have a degree in accounting. Ask any business owner about the key financial metrics of their business and most will be able to cite chapter and verse about the intricate financial details of their operation. It doesn’t matter what business it is, numbers are necessary to understand how the firm is doing financially. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter whether the business is an auto repair shop, a clothing business, or a consulting firm, the bottom line is making a profit to continue operations.
What Career Options are Available?
If you think a degree in accounting only leads to a job as an accountant, you might be surprised by this list. Here’s your chance to explore some career opportunities that are possible with an accounting degree.
In a traditional manufacturing operation, for example, you will find people with accounting degrees running production departments, human resources, computer operations, production scheduling, distribution, and warehousing departments. Leaders come from all different backgrounds, and successful leaders have the ability to think globally but realistically. Accounting majors are a natural fit for these types of positions.
Step outside the manufacturing world into nonprofit organizations, and you will find the same thing happening. Fundraising, marketing, compliance, and risk management are all possibilities for those with an accounting degree.
3. Finance and banking
If you think finance might be fun, you would be right, and individuals with an accounting degree fill many roles in the finance field. Stockbrokers, financial analysts, personal financial planners, bankers, and loan officers, just to name a few. Finance and accounting are heavily intertwined in the business world and finance and accounting share many of the same traits and knowledge base. Selection of the proper electives to allow this versatility is a key component in determining the breadth of knowledge an accounting student can obtain during their degree quest.
Management is a term thrown around many business circles today. When pressed to describe the functions of a manager, it turns out that those in the accounting field share the same key management traits as any other discipline: good communication skills, proper ethics, and leadership traits are the key components of today’s managers and, wouldn’t you know it, those with accounting degrees generally have education in these key areas.
Government positions abound in our society, and all manner of skills are necessary to fill these positions. As with most other disciplines, those educated in accounting have taken other required courses that make them well qualified to fill analytical as well as senior professional level positions in many federal or state agencies.
The bottom line: when it comes to career possibilities available to those educated in the accounting field, the sky is the limit. Are you ready to expand your career opportunities? If so, think about an accounting degree as an option.
Written by Don Frey, assistant professor and program chair of the Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and Master of Accountancy programs for the Forbes School of Business and Technology™ at Ashford University.