Surprisingly Exciting Accounting Careers


See how you could potentially break into one of these cool accounting careers.

By Chris Kyle

Don't let the stress of tax season influence your impression of accounting.

Tax returns aside, accounting can be a pretty exciting.

Next step: Start preparing for an Accounting career. Find the right school!

And tax time isn't the only time people are looking for qualified accountants. In fact, accounting careers are expected to grow 22 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Want to know more about the exciting opportunities this field has to offer? Keep reading for five surprisingly awesome careers in accounting - then see how you can get in on the action.

Next step: Search for Accounting degree programs now

#1 - International Accountant

Accounting isn't all about office work. International accountants, for example, travel to faraway places and work with people all over the globe.

This specialty accounting career requires knowledge of international financial reporting standards and can entail everything from navigating tricky trade treaties in emerging markets like Asia to working on international mergers and acquisitions.

Education: Studying international business is a great start if you want to pursue this type of career. Fluency in a foreign language can also help boost your career prospects. Other valuable bachelor's degrees include accounting, finance, and business administration.

Average Earnings: $49,000*

Next step: Search for Business and Accounting degree programs now

#2 - Forensic Accountant

The biggest nightmare for a white collar crook is having a forensic accountant hot on his trail.

Forensic accountants go wherever the money takes them, investigating financial crimes and insurance fraud on behalf of companies and public law enforcement agencies. Often their work will result in criminal charges and they can be called upon to testify in trials.

Education: Getting a bachelor's degree in accounting is a great first step. Earning a degree in business administration or criminal justice can also be useful in this career. Once you earn your degree, you'll want to get certified as a CPA, CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner), or Cr.FA (Certified Forensic Accountant).

Average Earnings: $48,030-$71,637*

Next step: Find the right Accounting degree program now

#3 - IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent

Embezzlement, extortion, and even murder are just a few of the crimes that IRS criminal investigation special agents uncover as a result of their scrutiny, according to the agency's website.

IRS special agents investigate criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code and related financial crimes, often working closely with the Department of Justice, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Department of Homeland Security, to name just a few federal agencies.

Education: According to the IRS website, you'll need a bachelor's degree that includes at least 15 semester hours in accounting, and 9 semester hours in finance, economics, business law, tax law, or money and banking. You also need a CPA certificate.

Average Earnings: $41,167-$64,894*

Next step: Search for Accounting and Finance programs now

#4 - Comptroller

Comptrollers are in charge of an organization's or government's purse strings.

Sometimes called controllers, they closely watch all outgoing and incoming finances. Chief accountant is another way to describe the position. It's a big responsibility to have, not to mention a pretty cool one as well.

Education: The road to becoming a comptroller can vary depending on whether you are working for the government or a private or public company. At a minimum, a bachelor's degree in an area like accounting or finance is helpful. Most comptrollers are also licensed CPAs.

Average Earnings: $46,604-$77,602*

Next step: Search for Accounting and Finance programs now

#5 - Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Forget about CEOS. As far as Wall Street is concerned, CFOs are the real kings of corporate America.

CFOs are responsible for a company's financial goals and budgets. In a publicly traded company, they are accountable for the organization's financial reporting. Do well and the sky is the limit.

Education: Accounting and finance degree programs can push you toward a certified public accountant (CPA) position and potentially boost your chances to move up the corporate ladder. Another thing to keep in mind is that competition is keen for CFO positions so getting an MBA could be a nice addition to your credentials.

Average Earnings: $81,817-$151,240*

Next step: Search for Accounting and Business schools now

* All average earnings info comes from PayScale using data gathered in January 2011, except International Accountant, which comes from in January 2011, and IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent, which comes from the IRS's website.

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