Career Options for Accounting
There are many rewarding career paths within the accounting profession. One should complete the required education and obtain any relevant licensing and credentials pertinent to a given direction. Often, an individual will discover specialized areas of interest during the education process and in the work environment. Knowledge of the below licensing and accounting credentials will also point the way toward potential specializations.
Certified Public Accountant
A certified public accountant, CPA, license is issued by a state and grants the holder a right to offer accounting services to the public in that state. Public accounting services include tax research and compliance and the preparation of audited, compilation and reviewed financial statements. Even if an individual does not seek a permanent career in public accounting, the CPA designation continues to open many doors in private industry.
Licensing requirements vary by state. Generally, one must pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination and fulfill an experience requirement. Some states require the candidate to complete a specified number of financial audit hours over a two-year period. Others are less specific as to the nature of the public accounting experience. Many states now require CPA candidates to complete a master’s degree prior to sitting for the examination.
Certified Management Accountant
The certified management accountant designation, CMA, is not a license. Rather, it is a credential that shows that the holder has attained a professional level of knowledge in financial planning, asset valuations, budgeting, risk management, operations, strategic management, financial statement analysis, and financial modeling and forecasting. The candidate must pass an examination and complete a two-year experience requirement. For more information regarding the CMA credential, refer to the website of The Institute of Management Accountants.
Chartered Global Management Accountant
All of the skills applicable to the certified management accountant designation apply to the chartered global management accountant, CGMA, credential. For those interested in applying a broad set of financial and management skills in an international business environment, the CGMA is a worthwhile credential. The oversight of this globally recognized designation is performed by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Consult the websites of these professional organizations for more information regarding the requirements to obtain the CGMA designation.
Accounting Career Paths
The above discussion highlights some of the skill-sets necessary to pursue a career in accounting. Financial accountants who have substantial public accounting and audit experience often accept employment with a client. These individuals may work as a corporate controller, chief financial officer, vice president of finance or director of finance.
If an individual enjoys taxation, there are opportunities in both public and corporate accounting. After working in the tax division of a public accounting firm, a tax accountant may also hold a directorship title in private industry. In addition to employing accountants experienced in corporate taxation, corporations employ those familiar with sales and use taxation and state and local taxation.
Cost accountants may work in manufacturing or industries where job and product costing are an important component of the accounting function. Accountants employed in government are knowledgeable of fund and fiscal accounting. Fiscal accountants develop budgets for specific purposes and monitor spending deviations from budgeted amounts.