8 Accounting Careers Nobody Told You About

UPDATE:? Listen to real accountants give you a behind-the-scenes look at their unique accounting careers on The Abacus Show.

Passing the CPA exam makes the most sense for auditors, accountants, and finance managers. It?s required for advancement in most financial careers, and is highly sought after by the Big 4 accounting firms when they look for potential hires. But, career opportunities for CPAs don?t end there.

Many job fields seemingly unrelated to the Certified Public Accountant experience look for candidates that are CPA certified: fields with decent pay and advancement opportunities. If any of the career paths listed below interest you, pursuing CPA certification may make sense for you as well!

Careers Requiring Further Education:?These potential career paths may require you to have further education than just CPA certification. If you have a college degree or are pursuing one, these are some excellent career choices to consider:

Accounting Jobs in the IRS/FBI

CPA certification is recognized as vital educational experience for some government agencies. In the United States, state investigation bureaus, gambling commissions, and even the IRS and FBI look for Certified Public Accountants to fill their special agent positions. The intricate knowledge of finance and accounting at a corporate level is very useful for these fields, as they routinely investigate cases of illegal gambling, fraud, or high level financial crime.

For this reason, individuals who are interested in law enforcement or government careers can benefit from the knowledge gained through CPA certification. Starting annual salaries for special agents range from $40,000 to $60,000, and can reach anything from $70,000 to $100,000 over time. The major determining factor for your starting salary and potential for advancement is education; anything from an Associate?s to a Bachelor?s will meet the requirements for special agent positions, but the more education the better.

Organizations Typically Hiring Special Agents:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Washington State Gambling Commission
  • Illinois Department of Revenue
  • Norfolk Southern Corp

Additional Education Requirements:

  • Associate?s: Accounting, Finance, Criminal Justice, Computer Science
  • Bachelor?s: BA or BS

Work as an Accounting Consultant

The knowledge gained from getting your CPA is valuable to a wide range of businesses. Because of this, many companies offer consulting positions to those with certification, in order to gain insight from this expertise. The duties of a consultant include reviewing and drafting documents, communicating with clients, conducting historical and forensic research, and assisting with legal investigations, among various others.

The specific duties vary from field to field, but the one common trait for all fields is that the consultant be very knowledgeable in the fields of finance and accounting. Annual salaries for consulting positions usually vary by education level, but the range is normally from $80,000 to $150,000 for those with adequate schooling. Bachelor?s, Master?s and Doctorates are ideal, and having professional experience in finance or accounting will also increase your job prospects and potential earnings.

Fields with CPA Consulting Job Opportunities:

  • Education
  • Banking
  • Politics
  • Construction
  • Geography
  • Forensics
  • Law
  • Finance
  • Information Technology

Additional Education Requirements:

  • Bachelor?s: Finance, Accounting, Business
  • Master?s: Finance, Accounting, Business
  • Master?s of Business Administration (MBA)

Accounting Controller Jobs

Controller positions are mostly based around assisting upper management in large financial corporations. Because of this, a controller position can be a stepping stone toward a position in upper management. As a financial controller, duties revolve around budgeting and treasury work, with a focus on the organization and execution of orders from CFOs. While controllers don?t decide on the direction a project is headed, they have a tremendous amount of control over the way a project reaches its goal, so a great deal of knowledge in finance and accounting is required.

It is often that a controller position requires several years of experience in the financial field, as well as a Bachelor?s degree. For this reason, many companies try to advance lower management employees to a controller position. However, it is still possible for controllers to be hired from outside the company, provided they have the requisite education and experience. Typically, a controller can expect to make a starting annual salary of $80,000, eventually reaching around $100,000.

Fields Hiring Controllers:

  • Consumer products
  • Healthcare
  • Banking/Finance
  • Industrial tech
  • State government
  • Manufacturing

Additional Education Requirements:

  • Bachelor?s: Finance, Business, Accounting

CPA Jobs In Education

After having attained CPA certification, one immediate job opportunity available is to teach others how to become CPA certified. The career benefits of acquiring certification are great enough that many prospective CPAs will pay a decent amount of money for educational materials or tutoring sessions. The demand for this knowledge is most definitely present, with the only other factor determining how much money you can gain being your ingenuity.

For this reason, potential earnings from instructing others in CPA test prep vary. Other, more stable education opportunities available for CPA certified individuals can be found in academia. Usually, these careers require applicants to have a doctorate level of education on top of being a CPA, but the benefits make pursuing these careers worthwhile. Professors in business, finance or accounting hold tenure, providing unbeatable job security. In addition, annual salaries for these positions are very large, with a minimum of $100,000.

Potential Educator Careers:

  • Teacher: CPA certification
  • Professor: Accounting, Business, Finance

Additional Education Requirements:

  • Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA)
  • PhD: Finance, Business, Accounting

Accounting Software Jobs

In the modern era, advances in computing has resulted in the disruption of many long-standing industries. Among these include financial advising, accounting, and tax preparation: the onset of smaller, more powerful computers led to software becoming a viable option to assist customers with these aspects of business.

Companies working on tax filing programs and accounting software value input from those knowledgeable in finance and accounting. Because of this, CPA certified individuals with an interest in programming can pursue rewarding careers in financial software development. The starting annual salary for accounting software developers is around $65,000 on average, but can reach $150,000 over time.

Software Development Positions:

  • Tax Analyst Programmer
  • Digital Media Systems Developer
  • Cognos Developer
  • Hyperion Developer
  • xBase Developer

Additional Education Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s: Business Accounting, Computer Science
  • Certifications: SLES, Windows, VMWare
  • Master?s: Computer Science
  • PhD: Computer Science

Alternative Careers for Accountants

For individuals interested in pursuing a career path that doesn?t require further education, the possibilities are more limited, and it may take a great deal longer to earn the same amount as someone with further education. However, there are still successful career possibilities available to you, if you are willing to work a little harder:


One of the major components in CPA certification is learning about proper business communication. If you?ve picked up communications skills during your certification, and understand how to ascertain the needs of clients, you may have a promising future in a sales related career. Working in sales usually doesn?t require any additional education other than a high school diploma.

Additionally, being a competitive and commission based job, excellence is rewarded with financial compensation and potential for advancement in the company. For ambitious individuals with exceptional communication skills that aren?t afraid of competition, sales is an excellent career path to pursue.


With the experience gained from obtaining CPA certification, you will have a perspective on accounting and finance that is highly valued. With some ingenuity, you may be able to leverage this knowledge into a writing career. Some potential writing opportunities for Certified Public Accountants include blog posts, informative articles, and even designing textbooks and other learning materials.

Best of all about this career path is that no other education is required: so long as you have a commanding grasp of the English language and can write in an effective and engaging tone, you can find work as a freelance writer. The downside to this career path is that consistent work isn?t guaranteed, and you wouldn?t receive the same benefits as full time salaried employees. However, the flexible nature of a writing career makes for an excellent side job while pursuing further education, or looking for a more stable job.


If you?ve learned enough about finance and accounting to understand how businesses are run, what?s stopping you from starting your own business? With this career path, you are your own boss. If you find a niche that you are able to fill with a product or service, a solid career choice for Certified Public Accountants is to start their own business.

The risks are high and success isn?t guaranteed, but the potential for success is equally high. With no further education required than what you feel is necessary to run your organization, the right team with access to the right clients can find a great deal of success starting a business. If you feel that you are capable of handling the responsibilities and astronomical risks of running your own corporation, this is a viable option for CPA certified individuals.

This guest article was contributed by Gryfin Test Prep. They specialize in preparing for the CIA, CISA, EA, CMA and CPA exams.