Career and Education Paths for a New CPA

The journey towards becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) is one tough ride. Now, what happens next?

As of now, you have two options: get a job so you can start earning right away or pursue further education to expand your knowledge and perhaps, your marketability.

If you’re at a crossroads, we’ll help you explore your options:

Start a career in accounting

The employment of accountants in the US is expected to grow six percent from 2018 to 2028. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there will be 140,000 new accounting jobs available by 2026, so there are a lot of opportunities for you to land a job.

Most employers require a candidate to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting, although a CPA license can improve job prospects.

If you’ve decided to embark on a career in accounting, what specific role should you apply for?

We’ll help you by listing down the four most in-demand accounting jobs in the country today.

Staff accountant

Average entry-level salary: $44,000

The US News & World Report ranks being a staff accountant as the seventh-best business job. This is because the job offers an elusive mix of a competitive salary, a large job market, work-life balance and future growth.

Some of the key responsibilities of staff accountants include:

  • Prepare reports for other accountants or accounting managers that they will use for their decision-making.
  • Collaborate with other financial and organizational personnel to assure compliance with standard accounting practices.

Financial analyst

Average entry-level salary: $58,000

According to the BLS, the employment of financial analysts is projected to grow six percent from 2018 to 2028, opening a lot of doors for opportunities.

Some of the key responsibilities of financial analysts include:

  • Provide financial analysis support to various departments of the company.
  • Prepare annual financial budget and monthly financial projections.
  • Help with the creation of weekly, monthly and quarterly financial analysis agendas.


Average entry-level salary: $52,000

Like financial analysts, the BLS reported that the employment of auditors is projected to grow 6 percent from 2018 to 2028.

Some of the key responsibilities of auditors include:

  • Analyze financial data to ensure accuracy, efficiency and compliance with relevant laws.
  • Consult with company representatives on improvements to accounting processes and systems
  • Prepare reports relating to audit activities.

Financial controller

Average entry-level salary: $63,000

Rounding our list of the most in-demand accounting jobs are controllers. The BLS reported that the employment of controllers is expected to grow 19 percent between 2016 and 2026.

Some of the key responsibilities of financial controllers include:

  • Maintain the financial stability of the organization.
  • Prepare balance sheets, income statements and similar financial reports that will paint a picture of the company’s financial standing.
  • Supervise the audit, accounting, and budget departments of the organization.

Pursue further education

You can have a profitable accounting career without enrolling in graduate school. But advancing your education may open more doors for you.

You may need to have a graduate degree to be eligible for senior-level and management roles, like an accounting manager, audit manager, or a tax manager.

Here are further education paths that you can take.

Master’s degree in accounting

According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, masters in accounting degrees have become more in demand. They found out that 45 percent of employers around the world are keen on hiring graduates with a Master of Accounting degree.

They found that employers are so interested in candidates with a master’s degree in accounting that they begin recruiting as early as the first weeks of the fall semester at many schools.

Aside from opening new doors to management and senior-level positions, having a master’s degree in marketing can also boost your market value. The BLS said that there’s a “wage premium” associated with having a master’s degree in accounting.


Accounting lawyer

From the name alone, this seems like a pretty cool title to carry, right?

An accounting lawyer is both a licensed lawyer and a certified public accountant, combining both the expertise in law and accounting.

If you want to gain a competitive edge against your co-CPAs, wearing both hats will make you more well-rounded in terms of skill.

Issues like tax consequences and estate planning deal with legal and financial principles that interlink with one another. An accounting lawyer will be able to provide a well-rounded understanding of how these abstracts work.

Also, when you become an expert in both disciplines, you’ll be more qualified to handle cases concerning estate planning, taxation law, white-collar criminal law, corporate finance law or forensic accounting.

Now if you’re thinking about pay, accounting firm lawyers can earn a starting salary of $70,000, way more than what a staff accountant earns.

After getting your CPA license, many opportunities will be waiting for you. You can enter the industry right off the bat, or you can gain more knowledge by pursuing post-graduate education.

Whatever path you choose, always strive for something that will add to your professional and personal growth.

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