Careers in Accounting

Accounting was ranked by CNN Money as one of the top three hottest college degrees for getting hired.Accounting graduates are prepared for careers in public, managerial and governmental or not-for-profit accounting (if you are currently looking for a position, click here for job postings).

Public accounting firms (CPA firms) offer professional accounting and related services for a fee to clients such as corporations, partnerships, organizations, governmental entities and individuals. These services tend to fall into three broad categories: external auditing, tax services and management advisory (consulting) services.

  • External Auditing: Users of financial information, such as bankers and investors (the external users), are more confident about the fairness of a company’s financial statements when a team of independent auditors from a CPA firm have performed a detailed examination of a company’s accounting records.
  • Tax Services: Accountants also provide expert advice on tax planning to both individual and business clients. The objective of tax planning is to consider the effect that taxes have on various business decisions. Also, accountants prepare federal, state and local tax returns.
  • Consulting Services: Management advisory services comprise the fastest growing area for many accounting firms. Some of the services offered to clients include financial planning, accounting systems design, inventory control, budgeting, personnel administration and internal auditing.

In contrast to public accountants who work in firms that provide services for many different clients, management accountants are employees of and provide accounting services for a single company or organization. Careers in management accounting can be both very challenging and financially rewarding. Management accountants may specialize in internal auditing, cost accounting, budgeting, information systems design, financial accounting and taxation.

Another career option for professional accountants is with governmental entities such as federal, state and city governments; or other not-for-profit organizations such as churches, hospitals, charities and schools. While governmental or not-for-profit accountants often work in a regulatory environment, frequently their job duties relate to the management of the receipt and disbursement of funds.

Professional Accounting Designations

Degreed accountants may earn one or more professional designations, depending upon their career path and personal interests. Among the several designations available are the CPA, CMA and CIA.

  • Certified Management Accountant: A CMA candidate must pass a series of standardized examinations prepared by the Institute of Management Accountants and meet other educational and experience requirements.
  • Certified Internal Auditor: The Institute of Internal Auditors grants the CIA certificate to accountants after they have successfully completed the IIA examination and have met other requirements.

Nicholls State University accounting graduates are qualified academically to take both the CMA and the CIA exams. Students completing the 121-hour undergraduate accounting program are awarded a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. Upon completion of an additional 29 hours of study, the student meets the educational requirement of 150 hours currently set forth by the Louisiana State Board of Certified Public Accountants to take the CPA exam. Students are strongly encouraged to complete a double major or the Master of Business Administration program to satisfy the additional hours.