A Bright Future: Career Outlook for Accounting Majors

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accounting jobs are expected to grow by 13 percent annually through 2022. This is good news as accounting majors will be in demand for the foreseeable future and can expect a long career in their chosen field. The employment rate for accountants tends to move with the cyclical cycle, which means that as the economy grows, accounting jobs will grow proportionately.

Salary Expectations

In May 2012, the annual salary for accountants averaged $63,550. The lowest 10 percent earned $39,930 while the highest 10 percent earned $111,510. The industry an accountant works does not seem to be a determinant of salary. The highest median salary of $66,530 is found in finance and insurance. The lowest median salary is found in government accounting jobs, totaling $61,490.

Job Outlook

Although accounting employment tends to grow with the health of the economy, there are a few other factors that drive the outlook for the jobs.

–          New laws: In the wake of the accounting scandals in the early 21st century, new regulations have necessitated the expertise of CPAs and accounting experts for compliance.

–          Lending Standards: As companies and banking institutions modify lending standards, auditors and CPAs are needed to prepare audited financial statements. Many banks only accept audited statements to assess a company’s credit worthiness.

–          Globalization: The increased emphasis on IFRS and GAAP convergence has required increased expertise from accountants familiar with both sets of standards. In addition, international trade, mergers, and acquisitions all require specialized accounting expertise.

Work Environment

Most accounting positions are office jobs, although an increasing number of accountants work from home. The job typically requires 40 or more hours weekly depending on the season. Year-end and tax season may require significant overtime. The daily tasks involved with accounting jobs can be fast-paced and deadline-oriented. Twenty-five percent of accountants work for companies that offer tax, bookkeeping, payroll and other accounting services. Government, finance and insurance companies also employ a significant proportion (16 percent) of accountants. The manufacturing sector comprises approximately six percent of the total number of accounting jobs.

Related Jobs

Accounting is a highly transferable degree. Accounting majors are also in demand for the following jobs:

Budget analyst: A budget analyst earns a median salary of $69,280. Their primary duties are to assist companies and public institutions with their finances. They can also prepare departmental budgets and monitor spending.

Financial analyst: Financial analysts can expect a median salary of $76,950. Their job is to provide investment advice to businesses and companies. They gauge investment performance and base recommendations based on quantitative and qualitative analysis of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments.

Personal financial advisors: Personal financial advisors assist individuals and families with their financial goals, including retirement, college savings and insurance. They earn a median salary of $67,520.

Accounting majors qualify for several other jobs, including cost estimators, college instructors, revenue agents, and even top executive positions. For more information, visit the BLS website.

Opportunities for accounting majors continue to expand. Students might consider obtaining a certification such as a CPA or CMA and open their own accounting practice. Or, they can interview for diverse opportunities that could lead to top management. For more information on the career outlook for accountants, check out the websites below:

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)

Institute of Management Accountants

The Institute of Internal Auditors

About Sara Huter

Sara Huter has over 15 years experience in the banking and energy industries, and over 10 years as an adjunct professor. Her work has been published for BusinessBee.com, the International Directory of Company Histories, the Encyclopedia of Business Insights: Global, EHow.com, and Examiner.com. Find out more about Sara at her Google+ Profile.