Career Paths in Accounting: Exploring Diverse Opportunities

Career Paths in Accounting: Exploring Diverse Opportunities

Accounting is a dynamic field of complexities beyond manipulating numbers and financial statements. It influences business decision-making, resource management, financial planning, and compliance. If you’re considering a career in this field, you have many opportunities, each with particular hurdles to jump and rewards.

In this article, we feature key opportunities in accounting and crucial qualification requirements and highlight eligibility criteria.

Let’s get to the details!

Certifications and Qualifications for Different Accounting Roles

Like any other field, accounting has a baseline that aspiring accountants must meet. Here’s a list of certifications and training you’ll need as you kickstart your career.


To qualify for any accounting role, you need a strong education and training background. For instance, a bachelor’s degree in accounting is a strong baseline. However, advanced degrees such as a Master’s in Accounting or a closely related course provide competency, expand knowledge, and improve job prospects.


The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) are among the most common certifications in accounting. However, more advanced certifications are useful if you’re above the average level and want high-end jobs. For instance, getting a CPA will require compliance with several state regulations, like the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act

Entry-level positions are also important as they are designed with industry-specific accounting practices. As such, you’ll receive the most sought-after training on accounting practices, systems, and related tools. 

Pros and Cons of Working in Public Accounting Firms vs. Industry

Choosing a job may not come easily unless you’re really skilled at it. Otherwise, many people just pounce on whichever job they find until they realize a need to shift later. Here’s how to determine whether you belong to the public or industry side of accounting jobs.

Pros of Industry Accounting Jobs vs. Public

  • Fewer working hours: Private accounting firms are not as strict with working hours as public ones. Most organizations allow their accountants to check in and check out as they wish, but only after completing their work. Hence, you never have to hit the 40-hour-per-week target that public firms press on.
  • Reliable schedule: With private accounting, you know your plans, especially after work. That means you hardly have to deal with last-minute assignments and travels or cancel your after-work plans like public accountants.
  • Career opportunities: Private accounting breaches the conventional way of only upgrading to senior manager, director, or becoming a partner. Being absorbed into such firms starts your career growth in financial analysis, tax, internal audit, and the like. 

Cons of Private Industry Jobs vs. Public

  • No guarantee of promotions: Unlike in public firms, private accounting does not give you a promotion schedule. Hence, you may stay in one position for more than five years. On the contrary, a new accountant takes only three years to become a senior in public accounting. The professional may earn a “senior manager” title after eight years before qualifying for partnership after 12 years.
  • Low-level work appreciation: Private firms tend to give lower raise percentages than public ones. As such, employees may only enjoy a 3-5% raise after a year, which is way lower than 10-15% of public organizations.
  • CPE credits: Maintaining CPE credits is a hassle. You’ll have to look for CPE courses and keep the records, which can either escape your memory or take a lot of time. Private accounting firms require you to do this yourself, whereas their public counterparts do it for you.

Specialized Areas of Accounting

  1. Tax accountants: They facilitate compliance with tax laws, advise on the necessary planning strategies, and prepare tax returns.
  2. Forensic accountants: They look into the fine print to establish financial irregularities, misconduct, and fraud. 
  3. Auditors: Better known as financial detectives, auditors thoroughly scrutinize financial records to establish accuracy and transparency. They review financial statements, assess internal controls, and investigate business operations in case of a discrepancy.
  4. Certified public accountants (CPA): They hence undergo rigorous practical training and examination. Beyond training, they qualify to provide businesses or individuals with advanced financial advice and solutions in complicated financial situations. 

Emerging Roles in Fintech and Data Analysis

Here’s a list of fintech and data analysis that are currently on the prime:

  • Data science: Involves deep research, mainly categorizing two roles — AI research and data scientist practitioner
  • Cloud engineering: Involves high-performance computing or cloud computing.
  • Data engineering: Involves the latest warehouses and technologies like Bigquery, Snowflake, etc.
  • Data analysis/BI engineering: Integrates LLM models besides business intelligence tools and warehouses.

Networking and Professional Development Opportunities

In a fast-changing world, it pays to keep developing your skill set and working around the right people. The methods below will come in handy for networking:

  1. Accounting conferences: Be sure to attend high-end accounting events like ones sponsored by the American Institute of CPAs or State Accounting.
  2. Technology: Keep an eye out on technology to maintain your relevance.
  3. Professional development for accountants: CPEs are among the most common professional development opportunities for accountants. CPE credits comprise accounting, financial planning, economics, auditing, statistics, etc.


Accounting is an interesting field in which to bank your life. With the right precautions and preparations, gaining ground in this field will prove easy. Besides, the landscape keeps changing, requiring many adjustments, skill upgrades, and vigilance. Follow MRINetwork to remain on the right trajectory and for the latest accounting updates.