Accounting Careers: Options, Job Titles, and Descriptions

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Image by Ashley Nicole DeLeon © The Balance 2019 

People who work in accounting record, analyze, and maintain financial accounts and statements. They might work for the government, a large company, or a small business.

Because accounting is an industry with a broad range of positions, there are many accounting-related job titles. Read below for a list and description of some of the most common accounting job titles.

You might also use this list to encourage your employer to change the title of your position to fit your responsibilities. This can fill out your resume and help you negotiate for pay increases. However, keep in mind that many accounting jobs require specific certifications and licenses, and these often affect one’s job title.

Accounting Job and Education Requirements

Most accounting jobs require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, business, or a related field. Some accountants pursue a master’s in business administration (MBA) after completing a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field.

Certified public accountants (CPAs) must complete the necessary licensing. The same is usually also true for financial planners.

However, many bookkeepers only possess a high school diploma and excellent math skills. Sometimes, those attending college to become an accountant are able to make a decent wage by doing bookkeeping part-time.

Accounting Job Titles

Accountant: An accountant prepares, analyzes, and maintains financial records. They typically work for a company, managing that company’s finances, or they own and operate their own independent practice. They might perform a variety of tasks, including managing a company’s payroll, taxes, and various other payments. Accountants work in a vibrant field wherein the median salary is $70,500 with an anticipated job growth of 6% from now until 2028 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

There are many different types of accountants, from general accountants to tax accountants. Each one has slightly different duties.

  • Accounting Manager
  • Accounting Officer
  • Business Analyst
  • General Accountant
  • CPA
  • Accounting Supervisor
  • Project Accountant
  • Staff Accountant
  • Cost Accountant

Accounting Clerk: An accounting clerk produces and maintains financial records for a company, but answers to the accountant or to the business owner. They are tasked with data entry specific to financial records and receipts. He or she might enter financial information into computer software, check data for accuracy, and/or produce reports on this information. Also known as bookkeeping clerks or auditing clerks, they work in almost all industries.

  • Bookkeeper
  • Finance Clerk
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Accounting Secretary

Auditor: An auditor’s duties are very similar to an accountant’s duties described above. Like an accountant, an auditor prepares, analyzes, and manages financial records. However, auditors typically work for an accounting or payroll service, rather than working for one particular company. Generally, an auditor checks the work performed by a company’s accountant. He or she often helps multiple companies deal with their finances.

  • Revenue Tax Specialist
  • Audit Partner
  • Financial Auditor
  • Internal Auditor
  • Assurance Senior
  • Assurance Manager
  • Internal Audit Director
  • Audit Manager
  • Auditor-in-Charge

Chief Financial Officer: A chief financial officer (CFO) is the executive responsible for managing the finances of an organization. He or she is in charge of financial planning, maintaining financial records, and analyzing these records to inform executive decisions. He or she manages the accounting department, and typically reports to the chief executive officer (CEO) and/or company shareholders.

Of all the accounting job titles listed here, the CFO is the most senior position an accountant can attain apart from assuming a position as a CEO. The median salary for CFOs is $183,270 with the top 25% making over $200,000 a year (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Controller: A controller is responsible for accounting activities for a particular company. He or she might prepare financial statements and budgets, process data, and/or prepare taxes. The controller typically reports to the chief financial officer (CFO) or may even be the CFO.

  • Comptroller
  • Treasurer
  • Finance Vice President
  • Director of Finance
  • School Treasurer
  • Finance Manager

Financial Analyst: A financial analyst evaluates businesses and projects to see if an entity is a good candidate for investment. Financial analysts might make recommendations to a particular bank, company, or to various investors about whether to invest in a particular company. Rather than examining financial statements for tax and compliance purposes, financial analysts are concerned with cash flow trends, company valuations, and the viability of purchasing/issuing stock.

  • Trust Officer
  • Equity Research Analyst
  • Planning Analyst
  • Real Estate Analyst
  • Credit Products Officer
  • Investment Analyst
  • Portfolio Manager
  • Securities Analyst