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Why accounting just might be the perfect career

Cloud of icons: plane, house, money

What does the perfect career look like?

Maybe something like this:

• You earn a high salary and have plenty of job security.
• You travel to places you might otherwise never see.
• You regularly take on new challenges and can take your career in a new direction if you want.
• And along the way, you do good in the world.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. In fact, you can get all of those things out of a career in accounting. Yes, it’s much more than spreadsheets and math —  much, much more.

Accountants do much more than help companies determine profit and loss. They are responsible for making sure that all of us who depend on financial information can rely on the figures we’re given.


Right out of school, many accountants earn more than $50,000 per year, according to the 2013 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

For those with a graduate degree (such as master of accounting degree) or additional credentials (like being a Certified Public Accountant), salaries typically start 5-15 percent higher, according to Robert Half, a large specialized staffing company.

Within five to seven years of graduating with a master of accounting degree, many accountants are pulling in six figures.

>>See starting salaries for a variety of accounting roles in our ROI infographic.

Job security

Job security results from a combination of in-demand skills and lots of employers who need those skills. That describes the accounting field.

Every business, government agency and nonprofit organization requires accounting. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Standards has projected that from 2012-22, demand for accounting professionals will grow faster than average.

Meanwhile, accounting trade publications and blogs are writing about the “talent war” in the industry, with weapons like higher salaries, better benefits and job flexibility deployed to woo job seekers.

The bottom line: Accountants are in demand now and will be for years to come.

>> Compare the demand for accountants to the demand for lawyers. Check out our ROI infographic.


Miami? Vegas? Europe? Where do you want to go? Accountants, especially those who work for large accounting firms, often find that travel is part of their job.

Audits, consulting and tax work can mean traveling to visit client facilities and corporate headquarters. That might mean a trip to a company distribution facility in Miami, a major port, for example, or even a trip to Vegas. (Casinos need accountants, too!)

There’ll be work to do on those trips, but chances are you’ll have evenings free to explore. It’s a great way to scout locations for your next vacation.

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Lots of job opportunities

Accounting provides an extraordinary variety of career opportunities. Many accountants specialize, becoming experts in auditing or tax or focus on a particular industry. Some even become forensic accountants — financial detectives, essentially.

However, the thorough knowledge of business you gain as an accountant, qualifies you to work in all sorts of roles.

Some accountants go on to the C-suite, becoming chief financial officers or even CEOs of companies. Others focus their work on helping individuals, providing investment, tax and financial planning services.

Want to work for a nonprofit to make the world a better place? You can do that as an accountant. Want to start your own business? You can do that, too.

More than money

Accountants do much more than help companies determine profit and loss. They are responsible for making sure that all of us who depend on financial information can rely on the figures we’re given.

Why do investors and shareholders trust the company’s financial figures? Because of accountants.

How do donors to a nonprofit know their contributions are being used the way the nonprofit organization says they are in its annual report? Because of accountants.

And when some kind of fraud or embezzlement is uncovered, how do authorities figure out what happened and how much money was stolen? You guessed it — accountants.

True fact: It was a forensic accountant who put together the criminal case against Chicago mobster Al Capone on tax charges in 1931. Capone wasn’t the first criminal — and won’t be the last — brought down by an accountant.

Knowing that you’re working to keep businesses, government and other organizations, transparent and trustworthy is a nice feeling at the end of the day. It’s just another benefit of being an accountant.

Want to see more?
Starting salaries? Job demand projections? Satisfaction survey results? It’s all in our handy, concise overview of the Accounting profession, “The ROI of an Accounting Degree”.