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Accounting: More Than GAAP

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Vacant accounting positions are not unusual in today’s job market, given that Baby Boomers are heading into retirement. Organizations are courting millennials to fill the vacant positions. Accounting firms, Fortune 500 companies, and industries large and small are concerned about the availability of skilled talent to cover essential accounting functions. Also contributing to the shortage is a rising trend of professionals choosing freelance over full-time work.

Traditional Jobs Expand

Students and professionals in the field of accounting are expected to be thoroughly familiar with the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) identifies five distinct career paths for those seeking financial reporting and auditing jobs:

  • Public Accounting
  • Academia
  • Corporate Accounting
  • Government
  • Nonprofit

Accountants today have broader options than they did in the past. Gaining professional accounting credentials such as a CPA requires more education than in decades past. The number of credits required to qualify for taking the CPA exam has gone up from 120 to 150.

The additional time spent on advanced education programs in college and the accompanying professional experience have made higher management levels and C-suite roles more accessible than ever for accountants.

Accountability Drives Jobs

Consumers and investors have demanded additional oversight on corporate accounting departments, which has led to more jobs at both ends of the spectrum; more accounting professionals are needed to ensure compliance with the laws and accounting regulations. E-commerce continues to evolve, and the need for executives who understand taxation and financial statements in depth as well as industry-specific requirements is continually increasing.

Diverse Opportunities

Accounting careers are not confined to preparing taxes and consolidating financial statements. The following are some lesser-known career choices where the springboard of a strong accounting background contributes greatly to one’s success:

  • Forensic Accountant.
  • Anti-Money Laundering Specialist.
  • FBI Special Agent (following money trails of organized crime).
  • Secret Service Special Agent (financial crimes and computer-based attacks).
  • Treasury Analyst.
  • International Accountant.
  • Investment Analyst.
  • Financial Adviser.
  • Business Valuation Expert.
  • Risk and Compliance Specialist.
  • Environmental Accountant.
  • Industry Analyst.
  • Accounting Software Developer.
  • Information Technology Accountant.
  • Business Journalist.

A Firm Foundation Is Essential

While some of these specialized fields require additional study or credentials, having a firm background in accounting and management topics is necessary. Courses offered by the University of West Florida (Corporate Taxation; Managerial Economics; Information Resources and Industry Analysis) provide the foundation and skills for success no matter what career path the student decides to pursue.

The Underworld of Business

Professionals interested in investigating and fighting fraud, organized crime, and money-laundering schemes have many options. For example, The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners has its own training and credentialing program, and the Wall Street Journal provides insight into the results of the association’s work through a special business section on Risk and Compliance.

Financial Management

Wealth preservation specialists with MBAs focused on accounting work in investment, business valuation, and treasury functions, with individuals and organizations. These professionals work in an advisory capacity and manage the funds of the clients they serve. High net-worth scenarios common to this specialization necessitate not only a solid reputation but also keen technical skills.

Interest-Driven Careers

Off the beaten path of traditional financial accounting work are a number of professions that enable individuals to blend their accounting prowess with their interest in the environment, international commerce or entertainment.

Accounting Technology Specialties

Working with companies that provide cloud- or network-based software that focuses on the accounting, banking or finance industries can be a great fit for accountants who enjoy being on the cutting edge of technological advances.

Great Communicators Needed

An accounting background enables journalists, annual report writers, and network analysts to apply business acumen to their communication expertise.

Acumen and Analysis

Corporate and public accounting, government and nonprofit accounting, and academia all offer professions worth exploring. Both traditional and lesser-known career options offer excellent opportunities to those who pursue advanced studies in accounting. The intellectual curiosity and analytical mindset of these professionals sets them apart. With the specialized knowledge gained through an MBA with an emphasis in Accounting, they can augment existing skills and prepare for challenges to come.

Learn more about the UWF online MBA with an emphasis in Accounting program.


Entrepreneur — Freelancers Make Up 34 Percent of the U.S. Workforce. Here’s How to Find, Hire and Manage Them.

American Institute of CPAs — Career

FBI Jobs — FBI Accounting and Finance Careers

Association of Certified Fraud Examiners — Forensic Accountant

The Wall Street Journal — Risk & Compliance Journal

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