Top 5 most in-demand accounting careers  (2023)

A degree in or experience with accounting doesn’t mean you have to have “accountant” as your title. The accounting field encompasses a variety of jobs across finance, analytics, business strategy and management. Those with accounting knowledge work in just about every industry, from banking to software to law enforcement.

With so many potential career paths, narrowing down your desired role or professional niche can be a challenge. That’s why it can help to start with the most popular accounting and accounting-related roles. Due to trends like increased tax law complexity, new regulatory requirements and digital transformation, certain positions are seeing an increase in demand. In this post, we’ll highlight five of the most sought-after careers in accounting, their related certifications and Surgent course materials that can help you pursue each career path.

5 accounting careers in demand


Auditors review and examine an organization’s financial statements, policies, procedures and transaction records to ensure they’re accurate, efficient and in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. An auditor is meant to be an unbiased, objective party that verifies an institution’s practices and financial documents, assesses potential risks and offers recommendations for process improvements. As the name implies, auditors are also responsible for conducting audits — formal, independent reviews of an organization’s financial records and practices.

Auditors can be external or internal. External auditors typically work for public accounting firms and are hired by other organizations on a short-term basis. Internal auditors, on the other hand, work full time for a specific company, organization or government agency. In general, external auditors need to hold the CPA designation (more on that below) and often have a master’s degree in accounting, while internal auditors aren’t required to hold a degree or CPA license. However, many internal auditors chose to pursue Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) status, and potentially the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) designation.

The job market for auditors is growing, and is expected to expand by 10% by 2026.


Bookkeepers provide a critical service for any company, namely the recording and organization of financial transactions. You might picture a bookkeeper, trusty calculator at their side, writing careful notes in a well-worn ledger. However, just about all modern bookkeeping is done through sophisticated accounting software. The general tasks performed by a bookkeeper remain the same, though, and include recording debits and credits, checking records for mistakes, reconciling accounts and producing financial statements. Basically, bookkeepers are responsible for recording all transactions that involve a financial component — everything from rent payments and utilities expenses to customer transactions and materials purchases.

Unlike an accountant, a bookkeeper doesn’t need to have a degree in accounting or any professional certifications. Bookkeeping doesn’t really require any formal training; in fact, some small business owners keep their own books. To brush up on your own bookkeeping skills, check out some of our resources on the topic.


A controller is responsible for the day-to-day accounting and financial operations of an organization. Often, they manage a company’s payroll, accounting, audit and budget departments. They’re also tasked with preparing financial documents, such as income statements, balance sheets and cash-flow analyses, as well as required regulatory reports.

Many of a controller’s responsibilities are similar to those of an accountant. However, their duties also include preparing for the financial future of the organization. Controllers analyze market trends, review potential strategies, predict costs and revenues, consider expansion opportunities, make forecasts and identify areas of risk. Many controllers hold CPA licenses, and additional controller certifications include Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA).

According to Robert Half, the controller title is one of the most in-demand and lucrative in the finance and accounting space, paying an average annual salary of over $230,000 in the United States.

Financial analyst

Financial analysts work with organizations and individuals to create informed investment strategies. Many work for banks, insurance companies, mutual funds, private equity groups, securities firms and venture capital firms. Buy-side financial analysts work for companies with large amounts of money to invest (institutional investors), while sell-side analysts work with financial sales agents to sell securities like stocks and bonds.

Data and analytics are big parts of this role. Financial analysts review past financial data, review current and upcoming economic trends, assess investment risk and determine the potential profitability of specific opportunities. The job requires a great deal of mathematical and statistical acumen, along with excellent research skills. Financial analysts typically hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting, business administration, economics, finance or a related field. Some may pursue the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation as well.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the financial analyst job market will expand by 9% between 2021 and 2031, a faster rate than the average across all tracked occupations.

Forensic accountant

Forensic accountants examine financial documents and monetary transaction to uncover evidence of fraud, money laundering, identity theft, misappropriation of funds and other crimes. Essentially, forensic accountants act as financial detectives. They may even be called to testify in criminal or civil court cases.

As you might expect, forensic accountants are typically employed by law enforcement and government agencies. However, they may also work in the fraud investigation or compliance departments of private companies, or for law, insurance or financial consulting firms. Most forensic accountants hold a CPA license, and many also obtain the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) designation. In addition to knowledge of accounting, forensic accountants must also be familiar with the financial aspects of criminal law and have some understanding of the legal and court systems. New methods of committing fraud and other financial crimes arise each year, so forensic accountants also need to be aware of these trends and how to recognize them.

The average company loses 5% of its annual revenue to fraud; as a result, demand for this specialized accounting field is only expected to grow.

Accounting certifications and licensure

Most accounting careers require some kind of professional license or certification. Below is a brief overview of the various designations you may consider pursuing if your goal is to hold one of these in-demand accounting careers.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

The CPA license is the gold standard of the accounting profession. To become CPA certified, you’ll need to pass the CPA Exam. Our CPA Exam Review course can help you achieve a passing score as quickly as possible.

Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

While the CPA license focuses heavily on tax-related concepts like financial reporting and tax return preparation, the CMA certification is geared toward corporate accounting responsibilities, including management functions, budget analysis, and business strategy. If you’re considering sitting for the CMA Exam, our CMA Exam Review course is a great test prep option.

Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

The CIA license, which is awarded by the Institute of Internal Auditors, is the only internationally recognized certification for internal auditors. Unlike the CPA designation, which is only recognized in the United States, the CIA designation is valid worldwide. If you’re considering a career as an internal auditor, get on the path to certification with our CIA Exam Review course.

Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)

The CFE designation demonstrates expertise in and extensive knowledge of financial fraud detection. It is awarded by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) and eligibility to sit the four-part exam is determined by their point system.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

The CFA certification is given by the CFA Institute and designates specific and detailed knowledge of investment tools and analysis, wealth planning, portfolio management, asset valuation and risk management. All CFA candidates must pass a three-part exam and meet certain work experience requirements.

Getting certified with Surgent

In addition to the exam review courses highlighted above, Surgent offers courses geared toward EA (Enrolled Agent), CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor) and SIE (Security Industry Essentials) certification. All our exam review products include unlimited practice exams and a 100% pass guarantee. You will get full access to all course materials until you pass the exam.

Plus, our exam reviews include the following proprietary features:

  • A.S.A.P.® Technology: Study more efficiently with our adaptive learning technology, which assesses your strengths and areas for improvements so you can focus on any weak spots.
  • ReadySCORE™: Know when you’re ready to pass! Our ReadySCORE™ feature is an exam-readiness indicator that predicts your likely score if you were to take the test on that day.
  • Daily Surge: Daily Surge cards appear every time you log into the course and suggest the topics you should cover during that session.
  • MyMCQ™: Our multiple-choice practice questions encourage you to master increasingly challenging concepts with each round, saving you time and helping you assess where you stand.

Take your accounting career to the next level

There are a number of careers for accountants to pursue. No matter your career goals, Surgent can help you reach them. Browse our extensive library of course materials, training programs and continuing education opportunities to find the option that’s right for you.


Top 5 most in-demand accounting careers ? ›

Information Technology Accountants

Technology accountants are most in demand for helping companies by providing them with IT solutions such as which software to use, which tools are suitable for the company, and bringing them to automation.

What type of accountant are in most demand? ›

Information Technology Accountants

Technology accountants are most in demand for helping companies by providing them with IT solutions such as which software to use, which tools are suitable for the company, and bringing them to automation.

What field is the best in accounting? ›

Top accounting jobs
  1. Bookkeeper. National average salary: $43,861 per year. ...
  2. Auditor. National average salary: $49,889 per year. ...
  3. Accounting clerk. National average salary: $51,702 per year. ...
  4. Credit analyst. National average salary: $55,250 per year. ...
  5. Compliance officer. ...
  6. Tax accountant. ...
  7. Accounts payable manager. ...
  8. Financial analyst.
Mar 10, 2023

What accounting career makes the most money? ›

Top 10 Highest Paying Accounting Careers
  • 1) Financial Controller.
  • 2) CMA (Certified Management Accountant)
  • 3) Chartered Accountant.
  • 4) Bank Branch Manager.
  • 5) CGA (Certified General Accountant)
  • 6) Senior Accountant.
  • 7) Financial Analyst.
  • 8) Credit Supervisor.
Oct 31, 2022

What is the lowest paid accountant? ›

How Much Does an Accountant Make? Accountants made a median salary of $77,250 in 2021. The best-paid 25% made $99,800 that year, while the lowest-paid 25% made $60,760.

What are the 5 types of accounting? ›

Keep in mind that these Accounts and Sub-accounts should all fall into one of the five real account types (Asset accounts, Liability accounts, Expense accounts, Income accounts, and Equity accounts). As a business owner, it's essential that you understand the differences between these types of accounts.

Can accountants make 6 figures? ›

A CPA salary usually reaches the high five figures, and senior CPAs in management can earn a six-figure salary.

What is the hardest accounting job? ›

The positions that some financial recruiters have identified as the hardest and most competitive jobs to fill include controllers (including hedge fund controllers), tax managers, fund and senior-level accountants, and valuation analysts.

What are the top 4 branches of accounting? ›

These four branches include corporate, public, government, and forensic accounting. An undergraduate degree is most often required for any accounting career, while previous master's work, especially in the accounting field, is often strongly preferred.

What are 3 types of accounting career paths? ›

Here are just a few of the career fields in accounting that might be available to you.
  • Public Accountant. ...
  • Tax Accountant. ...
  • Forensic Accountant. ...
  • Financial Accountant. ...
  • Managerial Accountant. ...
  • Financial Planner. ...
  • Internal Auditor. ...
  • Government Accountant.

What jobs do accountants switch to? ›

Five Alternative Careers for Accountants
  • Entrepreneur. Your time as an accountant will expose you to many different clients and business needs. ...
  • Business Analyst. ...
  • Non-profit Accounting. ...
  • Communications Strategist. ...
  • Accounting Information Technology.
Apr 26, 2023

What is better financial analyst or accountant? ›

Financial analysts typically make more money than accountants, and they often have higher starting salaries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that accountants will have a 4% growth rate by 2029, while financial analysts will have a 5% growth rate by 2029.

What is the highest paying CPA job? ›

Highest-paying positions for accountants

Executives and directors in top-tier accounting positions can earn upward of $200,000 annually, more than four times the average starting salary for a general accountant.

Can you make 100k in accounting? ›

Yes, you can make $100,000 per year as an accountant.

While possible, it is unlikely to earn over $100k as an accountant because even higher-paid positions do not typically earn more than $69,000 per year. The average annual salary for an accountant is $52,965.

Which degree pays more accounting or finance? ›

Based on NACE data, those who had a bachelor's degree in finance tend to have slightly higher starting median incomes than those with accounting degrees. In 2023, the median starting finance major salary was $61,456. On the other hand, the median starting accounting major salary was $53,444.

Which state has easiest CPA requirements? ›

Colorado's (CO) CPA exam requirements are possibly the most advantageous of all the states. It does not require 150 hours to sit. With no requirement to be a US Citizen, a resident of CO, or a certain age, it makes Colorado one of the easiest states to sit for the CPA exam and become licensed.

Is bachelor of accounting hard? ›

Earning an accounting degree isn't more challenging than earning a degree in any other possible subject. Accounting has some challenging parts like any other software, but you can also find portions comparatively simple or even straightforward.

Can accountants make 200K? ›

So, in public accounting, with any measure of success, you should get there. It's absolutely possible for a person to make 200K and even more with more zeroes. Your choice of practice/profession and your ways of work build wealth.

What are the big 4 in accounting? ›

Four competitive accounting firms in the U.S manage over 78 percent of all U.S. public audits and 99 percent of all public company sales. In the accounting world, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Ernst & Young, and KPMG are the accounting firms to work for.

What are the top 5 major accounts accounting? ›

In general, there are 5 major account subcategories: revenue, expenses, equity, assets, and liabilities.

Can you make millions as a CPA? ›

Many people know that the CPA designation is a phenomenal gateway to career success—especially when it comes to salary. While regular accountants' salaries range anywhere between $40-60,000, many accountants' salaries can cap off between $71-99,000.

Is accounting a 9 to 5 job? ›

Most people in the business and accounting field work daytime hours of 9 to 5 in offices. Accountants and bookkeepers may visit their clients' place of business.

What does the top 10 percent of accountants make? ›

Accountants, who maintain and analyze financial records and data, earn a median annual salary of $78,000. Salaries vary considerably, however. For instance, the bottom 10% earn less than $48,560 annually, while the top 10% earn $132,690 or more, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

What is the easiest work of accounting? ›

5 Great Entry Level Accountant Jobs
  • Budget Analyst.
  • Public Accountant.
  • Accounting Assistant.
  • Accounting Clerk.
  • Bookkeeper.

What is the least stressful job in accounting? ›

Low-Stress Jobs in Finance
  • Financial Consultant.
  • Financial Analyst.
  • Accounting.
  • Portfolio Manager.
  • Personal Financial Advisor.
  • Internal Auditor.
  • Financial Planning & Analysis Manager.
  • Insurance Advisor (Risk Manager)
Dec 10, 2022

What is the easiest accounting field? ›

Others may focus on auditing, forensic accounting or opt for government jobs. Some of the easiest accounting jobs are Budget analyst, accounting assistant, accounting clerk, public accountant and Bookkeeper.

What are the 3 C's of accounting? ›

The three C's of credit are character, capacity, and capital.

What are the golden rules of accounting? ›

Take a look at the three main rules of accounting: Debit the receiver and credit the giver. Debit what comes in and credit what goes out. Debit expenses and losses, credit income and gains.

Who is the father of accounting? ›

But the father of modern accounting is Italian Luca Pacioli, who in 1494 first described the system of double-entry bookkeeping used by Venetian merchants in his Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita.

What type of degree do most accounting positions require? ›

Aspiring accountants need a bachelor's degree in accounting or business to begin work in the field. A bachelor's degree usually takes about four years and 120 credits to complete. Those with an associate degree might enter the field as bookkeepers or accounting clerks.

How do I advance my career in accounting? ›

Table of Contents
  1. Become A CPA.
  2. Find A CPA Mentor.
  3. Improve Your Networking Skills.
  4. Keep Up With New Technological Developments.
  5. Gain Expertise In Different Areas Of Work.
  6. Focus On Your Soft Skills.
  7. Ask For A Promotion.
  8. The Bottom Line.

What can a CPA do other than accounting? ›

There are many career options for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) outside of accounting firms and corporate accounting. Possible career paths include being an entrepreneur, freelance accounting service provider, business analyst, non-profit accountant, writer, accounting information technologist, and math teacher.

Are accountants decreasing in demand? ›

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants says fewer people are graduating with accounting degrees than in years past, and the number of people taking and passing the certified public accountant exam is dropping.

Are accounting jobs growing or shrinking? ›

Quick Facts: Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks
On-the-job TrainingModerate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 20211,707,800
Job Outlook, 2021-31-5% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2021-31-77,200
3 more rows
Jan 11, 2023

Do you need a CPA to be a financial analyst? ›

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) may help for a financial analyst, but it is not always required. Many financial analysts are certified public accountants (CPAs) but most analysts generally choose the chartered financial analyst (CFA) designation.

Which is harder financial analyst or accountant? ›

At the undergraduate level, many people consider accounting to be a more difficult degree. Once you move further up from that level, however, there isn't a huge amount of difference between the two. They are both difficult but in different ways.

Who gets paid more financial analyst or business analyst? ›

The average salaries for business analysts and finance analysts can differ based on the company they work for, their location and their professional experience. Typically, a business analyst makes an average of $82,147 per year . In contrast, the average annual salary for a finance analyst is $71,418 per year .

Can CPAs make a lot of money? ›

Do certified public accountants (CPA) earn a good income? Yes, certified public accountants (CPA) can earn a good income. CPAs are in demand in various industries and organizations. Their salaries depend on how much experience they have, industries/companies they work for, and their specializations.

How much does a CPA make in Georgia per hour? ›

How much does a CPA make in Georgia? As of May 4, 2023, the average annual pay for a CPA in Georgia is $58,995 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $28.36 an hour. This is the equivalent of $1,134/week or $4,916/month.

Who is the highest paid CA in the world? ›

In Swiss accountancy, managers of consolidation are the highest paid with an average salary of CHF150,000 on yearly basis. The economy of Switzerland is built on finance, professional services, and banking which make the country to be among the most admirable places for chartered accountants.

Why does accounting pay so low? ›

Generally speaking, accounting jobs that center on compliance work will always leave many accountants feeling underpaid because they are working long hours with low-margin. A good rule of thumb is that data entry doesn't pay well. On the other hand, with advisory, the sky is the limit.

Can accountants make 500000? ›


Salaries for accountants vary depending on the company. Some large companies may pay over $500,000 a year, and independent accountants with an expansive client list can also earn more.

Which Big 4 pays the most? ›

Moreover, in terms of salary, consultants are generally paid the most, followed by advisory, tax, and then audit/assurance.

What pays the most in accounting? ›

High Paying Accounting Jobs
  • Audit Partner. Salary range: $115,000-$370,000 per year. ...
  • Chief Accounting Officer. Salary range: $138,500-$228,500 per year. ...
  • Vice President of Finance. Salary range: $130,000-$194,500 per year. ...
  • CFO. ...
  • Finance Manager. ...
  • Chief Accountant. ...
  • Fund Controller. ...
  • Internal Audit Director.

What is the hardest business major? ›

Hardest Business Majors
  • Accounting. ...
  • Management Science. ...
  • Finance. ...
  • Entrepreneurial Studies. ...
  • Human Resources. ...
  • Marketing. ...
  • Organizational Leadership. ...
  • International Business.
Sep 8, 2020

What is the highest degree you can earn in accounting? ›

PhD and Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in accounting are both doctoral degrees in accounting and simultaneously the highest degrees in accounting. These two degrees take a good amount of work—around four to five years—to complete and are considered a big accomplishment for accountants.

Are accountants in great demand? ›

Employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow 6 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations. About 136,400 openings for accountants and auditors are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

What is the highest form of accountant? ›

The accounting pyramid organizes accounting-related job titles into a hierarchy that ranks them by responsibilities and deliverables, with bookkeepers at the bottom, accountants in the middle, and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at the top.

What is the most common accounting job? ›

Tax Accountant

This is the most common route for accounting graduates. A tax accountant's job is to look into financial records and taxes for an individual, private companies, corporations, or organizations. You'll need to assess if the company is running efficiently and profitably.

Is an accounting degree in high demand? ›

Accounting Career Prospects and Growth

There is high demand for graduates with accounting degrees. Employment for accountants and auditors is expected to grow 7% for the next 10 years (Bureau of Labor Statistics), which is faster than the average for all occupations.

Why CPAs are quitting? ›

One of the most common reasons is that they find the work repetitive and boring. Many accountants also find that they are not challenged enough in their work. They may also feel that they are not paid enough or that their career is not progressing as they would like it to.

Who are the top 4 accountants? ›

The Big Four are the four largest professional services networks in the world: Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY), KPMG, and PwC. They are the four largest global accounting networks as measured by revenue.

What is the hardest accounting? ›

Tax Accounting: Usually some of the most difficult classes for an accounting major as they delve into the minutia of tax codes, though this knowledge is a major source of income for accounting graduates.

What are Big 4 accountants? ›

These Big 4 are the four largest public accounting firms in the world:
  • Deloitte.
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)
  • Ernst & Young.
  • KPMG.

How do I land my first accounting job? ›

How to find a job in accounting with no experience
  1. Research accounting types and roles. ...
  2. Complete your education. ...
  3. Pursue additional training or certifications. ...
  4. Intern or volunteer. ...
  5. Network effectively. ...
  6. Apply for entry-level positions. ...
  7. Keep learning. ...
  8. Develop your soft skills.
Mar 9, 2023

What is the easiest job with an accounting degree? ›

5 Great Entry Level Accountant Jobs
  • Budget Analyst.
  • Public Accountant.
  • Accounting Assistant.
  • Accounting Clerk.
  • Bookkeeper.

What percent of accounting majors get jobs? ›

Employment for accounting graduates is remarkably monolithic. Among 21- to 60-year-old accounting graduates, 75.9 percent were employed as an accountant (or auditor) and 11 percent were employed in other non-administrative business management occupation.


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