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CAREER GUIDE Bachelor of Science, Accounting

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Career guide: accounting.

Demand for qualified accountants and auditors has grown steadily over the past 10+ years, and a few key factors should allow this growth to continue for the foreseeable future. Experienced accounting professionals from the Baby Boom generation are retiring in significant numbers and driving demand for replacement talent. In today’s business environment, organizations are facing heightened scrutiny and increased regulations, which means they need additional accounting and auditing help to make sure they are complying with the new laws. Finally, globalization is leading to more diverse and complex international business transactions, which require more accounting resources and expertise. As a result, earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting from an accredited university can lead to many attractive corporate, public, and government accounting jobs—whether you’re already working as a financial professional or switching to accounting from a completely different field.

Job listing growth 2016–2026.

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Career opportunities.

Accountants have stable and rewarding careers. Accountants play a crucial role in the success of large corporations, small businesses, and government agencies around the world, which translates into consistently high demand and competitive salaries. If you’re considering an accounting career, you will need a strong aptitude for mathematics and analysis, as well as a good business sense and the ability to focus on details. An accounting degree opens the door to many attractive positions, and it can also serve as an important prerequisite for a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification and other advanced degrees and certifications.

Accounting ranks high on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Jobs” List.

  • Best Business Jobs: #7
  • Best STEM Jobs: #8
  • The 100 Best Jobs: #36

Positions in the field.

  • Corporate accountant
  • Forensic accountant
  • Corporate controller
  • Corporate auditor
  • Corporate tax manager
  • Corporate compliance analyst
  • Corporate financial or budget analyst
  • Financial reporting analyst
  • Public tax accountant
  • Public auditor
“Now that I'm doing full-cycle accounting, I understand the scope. I understand where you start and where you're supposed to wind up. It just makes a lot more sense. Earning my degree has really helped me fill in the blanks and take my job satisfaction to a higher level because I actually understand why I'm doing what I'm doing now.” Kate Leger
B.S. Accounting

Job market forecast.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand for accountants and auditors will remain strong through 2026, with growth that outpaces other careers in the financial sector and the average for all occupations. To some extent, this growth will be linked to the overall economy. As companies grow and go public, they will need more accounting professionals to handle complex financial documentation. In addition, a trend toward stricter laws, new regulations, and tighter lending standards will drive the need for more accounting and auditing services.

Job growth 2016–2026.

Work environment.

The 1.4 million accounting and auditing professionals in the United States work for an incredibly diverse range of organizations across virtually every industry—from giant public accounting firms and multi-national corporations to government agencies and small businesses. As a result, the hours and types of work environments can vary greatly, depending on the specialty you decide to pursue and the type of firm you work for. Most accountants work in offices, although working from home may also be an option for some. Accounting and auditing work tends to be somewhat solitary, although many accountants are also active members of functional and cross-functional teams. In 2016, about one in five accountants worked more than 40 hours per week, and many accountants are expected to work extra hours during tax season or near the end of their employer’s budget year.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following industries employed the largest number of accountants in 2016:

  • Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services: 353,400
  • Management of Companies: 94,000
  • Government: 116,300
  • Finance and Insurance: 114,500

Professional organizations.

Accounting is a popular career with a robust network of professional organizations. Explore these resources to get a better sense for the profession—and gain valuable insights into whether a bachelor’s degree in accounting is right for you.

Job search resources.

Are you curious about the latest accounting career job openings? Check out these resources for an up-close look at some of the opportunities that are available today.


Salary stats.

Thanks to consistently high demand, accountant salaries are rising quickly. In May 2017, the average annual salary for accountants and auditors was $69,350, up from around $60,000 in 2006. Accounting positions also provide excellent opportunities for career advancement and salary growth, with opportunities to move into Financial Management positions and other executive roles.

Average salary of jobs with related titles.


Summary.

Public, private, and government accountants provide essential auditing functions, tax services, management consulting, and other financial services for thousands of organizations around the world. An accounting career offers good salaries, excellent opportunities for advancement, and a diverse range of specialties. To pursue a successful accounting or auditing career, you should start by earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting from a respected, accredited institution.

Next Start Date

Jan 1

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Your career’s next step: Earn a degree.

Ready to jump-start your career in Accounting? The next step could be earning your B.S. Accounting. Accredited, competency-based WGU offers this degree online for at a surprisingly affordable flat-rate tuition. Flexible enough for a working adult’s schedule with the option to accelerate, your degree may be closer than you think!