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Accounting Manager Career Guide

How to Become an Accounting Manager

Accountants fulfill a wide range of financial responsibilities for one or multiple companies. In organizations large enough to warrant multiple accountants, accounting managers oversee all members of an accounting team or department.

As an accounting manager, you’ll ensure that all members of an accounting team operate with financial best practices. Whether you work for a public company or a private accounting firm, you’ll guide accountants in creating budgets, auditing company spending habits, filing taxes, and preparing financial documents.

One of several rewarding accounting careers, the role of an accounting manager is ideal for anyone with skills in finance, mathematics, and data analytics.

A businessman sitting at a computer types on a ten key and takes notes.

What Is an Accounting Manager?

Accounting managers guide the operations of a company’s accounting department. Delegating tasks when necessary to individual accountants, accounting managers oversee tax filing, budgeting, financial management, financial reporting, and other department responsibilities.

Accounting managers are often referred to by a variety of different job titles. Depending on your job description or your work environment, you might be known as a “budget manager,” “finance manager,” “payroll manager,” “tax manager,” or other titles.

The role of an accounting manager is a specialized career option, often requiring both an undergraduate and a master’s degree. In addition, aspiring accounting managers often need a few years of experience to be eligible for hire. You may also need to earn a CPA license or obtain other relevant certifications.

What Does an Accounting Manager Do?

Accounting managers ensure that accounts, and entire accounting departments, implement financial best practices. On some days, accounting managers may spend extended periods auditing a company’s budgets. On other days, accounting managers will handle various aspects of a company’s payroll and budgeting across departments.

The exact responsibilities of an accounting manager can include:

  • Overseeing an accounting department’s daily operations.
  • Auditing company budgets and spending habits to explore further opportunities for improved financial management practices.
  • Creating user-friendly financial reports that allow company executives to draw conclusions about their company’s financial habits.
  • Familiarizing members of the accounting department with any new policies.
  • Ensuring that all members of an accounting department operate with correct financial procedures.
  • Comparing corporate month-over-month and year-over-year spending habits, to identify and learn from long-term financial patterns.

These and other responsibilities allow accounting managers to oversee the performance of an accounting department, whether they’re auditing corporate spending practices or preparing tax documents.

Where Do Accounting Managers Work?

Accounting managers can work in several locations, depending on the preferences of their employer. You will most commonly work closely with the other members of your accounting department, making it easier to ensure efficient operations.

As an accounting manager, you might work in one or more of the following locations:

  • Public companies
  • Private companies
  • Government organizations
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Educational institutions

Technically, an accounting manager can work anywhere with a developed accounting department, where they maintain various decision-making responsibilities.

What Education Does an Accounting Manager Need?

Before you can begin a career as an accounting manager, you’ll need to complete educational requirements that prepare you for a career in finance. Accounting managers need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in accounting. This degree program teaches skills in statistics, budgeting, probability, economics, and other core competencies.

You will likely also need to obtain a Master of Science in Accounting degree in order to progress into management positions. This will enhance your understanding of accounting, improving your knowledge of fields like tax concepts, auditing, and financial management. These skills help support your future career in account management, whether you’re optimizing budgets or identifying opportunities to reduce corporate spending. If you need a CPA certification, a master’s degree will be a key element in preparing you to sit for the rigorous exams.

Accounting – B.S. Business Administration

Have a knack for numbers or fine-tuning finances?...

Have a knack for numbers or fine-tuning finances?...

Have a knack for numbers or fine-tuning finances?

  • Time: 70% of graduates finish within 41 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,720 per 6-month term.

Some careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Accounting manager
  • Financial director
  • Vice president of finance and operations
  • Chief financial officer
  • Forensic accountant

Take your first step toward CPA certification and learn how to use GAAP, ledgers, and journals.

Accounting – M.S.

Become better qualified to pursue a greater variety of public...

Become better qualified to pursue a greater...

Become better qualified to pursue a greater variety of public and private accounting positions:

  • Time: 70% of grads finish within 23 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,675 per 6-month term.

Some careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Accountant
  • Accounting manager
  • Internal audit manager
  • Senior accountant
  • Other specialized finance roles

This MAcc program is designed to prepare you for the CPA exam and also the CMA or CIA exams.

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What Skills Does an Accounting Manager Need?

Accounting managers depend on well-developed skill sets to oversee day-to-day accounting department operations. These skills will enable you to implement policies that promote the efficient use of company finances, while managing all accounting staff members.

The exact skills that an accounting managers needs can include:

  • Financial management: The ability to manage the financial aspects of a company’s operations.
  • Financial consulting: The ability to inform company executives on improved spending and financial habits.
  • Auditing: The ability to thoroughly examine a company’s financial history, identifying opportunities for more efficient operations, and ensuring continued policy compliance.
  • Risk management: The ability to protect against potential financial risks and mitigate threats to accounting ethics or operations before they materialize.
  • Investment: The ability to intelligently invest financial assets in ways that yield sufficient returns.
  • Budgeting: The ability to create, implement, and optimize department budgets that equip employees with all necessary tools for success, without promoting any inefficient spending practices.
  • Data analysis/reporting: The ability to gather, assess, and report on data in ways that allow executives to learn from patterns in financial operations.
  • Interpersonal communication: The ability to correspond well with other members of a company’s accounting department, in addition to other company representatives and executives.
  • Problem-solving: The ability to identify and solve problems in a company’s financial habits or history.

These and other skills help accounting managers guide financial departments toward sustained success.

How Much Does an Accounting Manager Make?


The exact income of an accounting manager can vary based on a variety of factors, including their employer, employer’s location, years of experience, education, and active certifications. On average, the salary of an accounting manager is $73,528, with an estimated range of $50,000 to $103,000.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?


Accounting managers are expected to see a favorable job outlook over the next decade. From 2019 to 2029, employment for accountants and auditors alike is expected to grow by 4%. This forecasted growth rate is roughly the same as the average across all occupations.

What Certifications Does an Accounting Manager Need?


In addition to any educational requirements, accounting managers often need to obtain one or more accounting certifications. Employers may require that accounting managers pass the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. The CPA means you are licensed and have the ability to do certain types of accounting work as a certified professional. Many organizations will require a CPA in order to move into management positions, because the work you need to do requires that additional license.

Interested in Becoming an Accounting Manager?

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