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Online Degrees

Part of Western Governors University

December 20, 2022

Business

What Can You Do with an Accounting Degree Besides Accounting?

Having an accounting degree opens up a variety of career opportunities outside of the traditional accounting jobs roles, such as accountant or auditor. In fact, one in four Fortune 500 CEOs come from a background in accounting. With systems and analytics becoming increasingly relevant in today's business world, many employers value hiring accounting majors. A degree in accounting is versatile and its holders have many options when choosing a meaningful career path to pursue.

Is an Accounting Degree Worth It?

Having a degree in accounting can be a valuable asset to any career. Not only will you gain the knowledge necessary to accurately prepare, analyze, and audit financial documents, but you'll also develop essential skills such as interpersonal communication, problem-solving, leadership, and strategic planning. An accounting degree equips students with vital principles of business in budgeting, taxes, economics, and financial data analysis.

It's no surprise that an accounting degree is highly sought-after. Accounting and financial principles hold tremendous value in nearly all industries, from finance and real estate to the nonprofit sector. An accountant can apply their skills at various career levels and make informed decisions that have a lasting effect on companies or organizations.

Should I Quit Accounting?

Not only are plenty of accounting job opportunities available to graduates with an accounting degree, but there is also ample room for career growth. Since degrees specializing in financial management often have highly transferable skills, earning an accounting degree can open up a range of opportunities for those who choose not to pursue a career in accounting accounting jobs . Knowledge of accounting terminology and protocol can be useful when working with reconciling reports, bookkeeping, and audit procedures, meaning that individuals with accounting degrees can accept positions such as those of financial advisors, business operations managers, or even loan officers. Additionally, industries like banking and investment management value individuals educated in finance.

10 Alternative Careers for Accounting Degree Holders and Salary Information

An accounting degree can be an excellent foundation to help you obtain roles outside a traditional accounting career nontraditional career. Accounting programs require individuals to look at both the minor and major influences of different scenarios, which allows a better understanding of complex problems from different angles, such as customer behavior or market trends. Additionally, legal and business ethics are central to accounting. This understanding can give someone a base for ethical decision-making within an organization, which is vital for companies looking for long-term success. Accounting also emphasizes communication skills and critical thinking that can be useful for any career. Most notably, professionals with accounting degrees are well equipped with the financial analysis knowledge required to assess business progress in almost any industry. 

Here Are 10 Alternative Career Paths Available to Accounting Majors:

1. Financial Advisor

A financial advisor helps people manage their money. They offer a wide range of services for those exploring financial options, including giving advice about investing, retirement planning, saving for the future, and budgeting. Most of all, financial advisors help provide clarity and understanding to individuals when making financial decisions. The median annual salary for a financial advisor in the U.S. is $94,170, with the bottom 10% earning less than $47,570 and the top 10% earning more than $208,000.

2. Financial Analyst

A financial analyst works in the finance sector, providing services related to investments and finances. They specialize in markets, assets, and stocks to help organizations maximize their profits and reduce their losses. Financial analysts continually monitor market trends while keeping up with pertinent news and economic developments. Currently, the average salary for financial analysts in the U.S. is $91,580 per year, with employment expected to grow by 9% from 2021 to 2031.

3. Consultant

A financial consultant helps individuals and organizations understand their financial situations and make strategically sound financial decisions. They provide advice to clients on a variety of topics, including budgeting, taxation, retirement planning, investments, insurance, or estate planning. Skilled in financial management and analysis, consultants can help create ideal conditions for achieving their client's financial goals. Consultants earn an average of $94,170 per year, not including commission or bonus pay. 

4. Data Analyst

A data analyst uses their accounting knowledge and expertise to derive meaning from data. They analyze high-level patterns and provide market insights that can be used to inform and drive decision-making. As a result of efficient data analysis, organizations can take advantage of hidden opportunities and experience exciting growth outcomes. On average, data analysts earn $82,360 per year in the U.S. 

5. Investment Banker

An investment banker advises clients on investments, helps companies and other entities raise money in capital markets by issuing stocks or bonds, and provides financial assistance for large transactions. Investment bankers are also known to facilitate mergers and acquisitions by finding potential buyers or sellers. Currently, the average salary for investment bankers in the U.S. is $62,910 per year, with employment expected to grow by 10% from 2021 to 2031.

6. Entrepreneur

An entrepreneur with an accounting degree has the foundational knowledge to understand and manage their finances more effectively. When an entrepreneur has a thorough understanding of financial practices, they waste less money and resources, develop the ability to track expenses and create accurate budgets, and keep their business and customers compliant with applicable laws. As such, obtaining an accounting degree can help entrepreneurs take their business ventures to the next level. The annual salary for entrepreneurs can vary widely, depending on the industry.  

7. Finance Manager

A finance manager is responsible for budgeting, forecasting, and preparing financial reports. Their goal is to ensure that an organization or individual client uses their monetary resources efficiently and effectively. A good finance manager utilizes their professional expertise to maximize profits and minimize losses, stimulating long-term stability and possibilities for corporate expansion. The median annual salary for a financial manager in the U.S. is $131,710, with the bottom 10% earning less than $77,040 and the top 10% earning more than $208,000.

8. Cost Estimator

A cost estimator is responsible for keeping track of the estimated costs associated with any given project using advanced financial models and techniques to account for both fixed and variable costs. They provide a range of services, from the early budget planning stages of the process all the way through to selecting suitable contractors or subcontractors and identifying ways to reduce labor expenses. Cost estimators are important professionals in the construction, engineering, and finance industries and earn an average salary of $65,170 per year in the U.S.

9. Stockbroker

A stockbroker is a type of financial professional who has the expertise, knowledge, and qualifications to buy and sell stocks and other securities on behalf of individual or institutional clients. They use their resources and market analysis abilities to provide advice on stock investments and recommend buying or selling decisions based on their client's investment goals. The average salary for stockbrokers in the U.S. is $62,910 per year, with employment expected to grow by 10% from 2021 to 2031.

10. Budget Analyst

A budget analyst is a financial professional who scrutinizes an organization's budget and makes recommendations to help the organization accomplish its goals in the most cost-effective way possible. These professionals analyze an organization's financial operations to ensure that it stays within allocated budgets. The median annual salary for budget analysts in the U.S. is $79,940, with the bottom 10% earning less than $49,330 and the top 10% earning more than $124,440.

Ready to Earn Your Accounting Degree?

Ultimately, when you earn an accounting degree, you not only possess a specialized set of skills but also develop important business capabilities that are transferable to a variety of professional settings. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in accounting from WGU will provide a strong foundation in business ethics, sales, taxation, management, and more. And, since WGU is completely online and competency based, students can gain work and leadership experience while earning their degrees.

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