Skip to content Skip to Programs Navigation

News & Stories

Switching careers? Why accounting might be just what you’re looking for

Two men talking

Switching careers? Why accounting might be just what you’re looking for.

Whatever the reason, you’ve decided it’s time to switch to a new career. Something with better job prospects, more opportunities for advancement, and enough potential to keep you satisfied for decades.

>> Download our guide “The Career Switcher’s Checklist” for helpful tips and suggestions.

Accounting might be the new career you’re seeking.

And, here’s why.

There are a lot of accounting jobs.

Every organization — from government agencies and nonprofits to small businesses and multinational corporations — needs accountants. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts that the number of accountants will grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026. And, unemployment rates for accountants are significantly lower than the overall unemployment rates — there are plenty of jobs out there.

And it’s not just accounting jobs. An accounting degree is great preparation for jobs in finance, business forecasting, business analytics and more. That’s because accounting provides the financial, analytical, and problem-solving skills essential in the 21st century economy.

The business world needs accountants. Changing regulations and tax laws in the U.S. and around the world are creating a more complex economy. Accountants, and those with deep accounting skills and knowledge, are the professionals who can help organizations of all types successfully navigate this change and complexity.

The pay is great.

Along with higher demand comes strong compensation and benefits. The median pay for accountants is nearly $70,000 per year, according to the BLS, but more qualified accountants can make significantly more. For example, the average forensic accountant or accounting manager earns about $90,000 per year. Many accountants, especially those with CPAs and advanced degrees, can earn six-figure salaries, sometimes after just a few years of work experience.

You can choose your own career path.

Strong employment and high pay are great, but they’re not the best things about accounting careers.

If you think of accountants as people who spend their days bent over adding machines or manipulating spreadsheets, it’s time for an update. While crunching the numbers and analyzing financial data is an essential part of accounting, it also requires problem solving, creativity and strong communication skills.

Accountants help organizations make better decisions — and help society do better. Accountants provide fiscal insight, which, in turn, helps companies know when to launch new products, move into new markets, or avoid money-losing ventures. Accountants also are the guardians of financial accuracy across the economy. They help protect against fraud, measure the impact of corporate environmental initiatives and find ways to reduce wasteful spending.

An accounting degree prepares you for many career paths. Some accountants become top corporate executives, including chief financial officers and even CEOs. Others work in nonprofits or for government agencies, helping an organization fulfill an important societal mission.

You can work with purpose.

Many accountants find fulfilling careers doing auditing, tax or consulting work for public accounting firms, jobs that require plenty of teamwork and often bring opportunities for travel. And accountants with an entrepreneurial bent often find success starting their own firms or working in a start-up.

Maybe the best thing about switching from another career into accounting is that you still bring all of that experience with you into the new accounting role. If you were a teacher, for example, you’ll still have opportunities to explain accounting concepts to people you work with as an accountant. Or if you’ve spent a few years working the phone and meeting prospects in a sales role, an accounting degree could help you forecast sales for the entire company — and even set goals for your former colleagues. In fact, combining accounting knowledge with a background in another field can make you more qualified and competitive for some job opportunities.

How to prepare for an accounting career.

What does it take to switch to accounting? The right kind of education, of course. You probably don’t have an accounting degree, but that’s OK. In as little as one year, by going back to school, you can leap into a new career in accounting.

Most MAC programs are open to people with a wide variety of undergraduate degrees, from finance to English literature. And, online degrees allow students to continue to work while taking classes.

Once you’ve completed your degree, top MAC programs will also provide job placement support and access to a robust professional network with other alumni across the country. And MAC graduates are prepared for the CPA exam, which provides a unique, in-demand professional credential that boosts your earning potential.

Want some helpful career-switch advice from our experts?

Download our guide, “The Career Switcher’s Checklist”, for some great tips and suggestions.


What’s your next career move?

The online Master of Accounting (MAC) degree from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School can give your career the boost it needs.

  • Flexibility: Evening courses and a pace you set
  • Reputation: World-class faculty and a top-ranked program
  • Support: A career services team dedicated to the needs of working professionals

>> Learn more about the program.
>> View a demo of our live classes.
>> Join our next webinar.