7 types of careers in accounting (With duties and salaries)
Updated 5 September 2023
Careers in accounting can be lucrative as they're often one of the highest paying jobs in a company. There is a wide range of accounting roles available, each with different duties and skill sets. Knowing more about these roles and what sort of candidates they attract can help you to plan and prepare for your future in the industry. In this article, we discuss the different types of accounting careers, their responsibilities, salaries and the skills and qualifications that can make you successful.
Related: How to become an accountant
What are careers in accounting like?
Careers in accounting predominantly involve analysing, interpreting and reporting financial information of entities. While there are many types of accountants, there are a few common responsibilities that most accountants share, including:
auditing and analysing finances
ensuring financial statements comply with laws and regulations
giving financial advice on how to cut costs or boost revenues
organising and maintaining account books and systems
preparing accounts and tax information
presenting and reporting budget reports
Why should you consider a career in accounting?
Hard-working individuals who enjoy using numbers and analysis may enjoy the day-to-day life of being an accountant. There are many benefits to having a career in accounting, such as:
Help businesses: Whether you're an accountant in a huge firm or an independent contractor who audits small to medium-sized businesses, you help businesses to be successful. As an accountant, you analyse financial statements, perform risk analysis and advise on how to improve finances for a business.
Advance and develop your career: Being an accountant gives you ample opportunity to advance your career. There are many ways you can develop through advanced degrees or qualifications and the more relevant work experience you have, the more networking opportunities and contacts you accrue.
High employment rate: Accountants typically find work, as they typically provide value to businesses and individuals. Whether you work in banks, firms, private companies or the government, you can expect excellent job security and job prospects.
Great compensation: Careers in accounting are challenging and require a lot of training and education. Employers recognise the complexity of the role and compensate accountants generously, with more experienced accountants earning even higher salaries.
Relevant: 14 of the best-paid jobs in finance
Types of accounting careers
When preparing for an accounting career, it's important to note that there are many different subcategories within the career path. Although they all relate to financial information, the responsibilities and duties associated with each job can differ greatly. Here are some accounting careers to consider:
National average salary: £31,981 per year
Primary duties: An auditor's primary role is to examine and analyse a company's financial records or statements to create and present a performance report. They utilise accounting skills like financial analysis to look at the business as a whole and give advice on where it can improve. They may also perform a non-financial audit in which you examine operations, check on compliance with regulations and assess the risk of fraud.
National average salary: £34,975 per year
Primary duties: There are many levels in the chartered accountant hierarchy, as it's a broad role that includes chartered certified accountant, chartered management accountant and chartered public finance accountant. The duties include general financial reporting, taxation, accounting system management and analysis. The role also requires many skills that are transferrable to other areas of accountancy, such as attention to detail, communication and time management.
Related: How to become a chartered accountant
National average salary: £56,935 per year
Primary duties: A forensic account uses an investigative and curious mindset paired with excellent organisational ability and attention to detail. Forensic accountants typically find discrepancies in finances and look for potentially fraudulent activity in an entity's financial statements. They also calculate and quantify exact losses and revenues and retrieve missing funds. After the investigation concludes, they may create a report with their findings and provide insights into criminal activities. Most of the responsibilities as a forensic accountant involve researching and uncovering fraud and criminal activity.
National average salary: £36,346 per year
Primary duties: A mortgage advisor's responsibilities may include applying advising clients on what mortgage product is suitable for them. They typically spend lots of time meeting or talking to clients to understand their financial situation and apply the best product to them. Excellent interpersonal and communication skills are just as important as numerical skills for mortgage advisors, as they explain complex topics to clients daily.
National average salary: £31,668 per year
Primary duties: A retail banker helps clients manage their money while also suggesting financial assistance services and products. One of their primary responsibilities is to assist with the movement of personal funds via payment mechanisms. They may also authorise loans and overdrafts if you're in a position of authority to do so. Their daily work schedule mostly involves talking with individuals and assisting with their personal financial needs.
National average salary: £28,086 per year
Primary duties: A stockbroker has a dynamic and engaging role in the financial industry as they buy and sell stocks, shares and other securities for both private and commercial clients. They can provide services for either institutional or retail clients. Their job responsibilities vary depending on the firm that employs you and which clients you serve, but they typically monitor market performance, financial news and trends, write analyse reports and conduct trades on behalf of their clients.
7. Tax adviser
National average salary: £41,028 per year
Primary duties: A tax adviser utilises their knowledge of tax legislation to inform and consult clients to ensure they're paying their taxes correctly and benefiting from any tax exemptions. Depending on their role in a firm, they may deal with either corporate or personal clients. Their daily responsibilities may include researching tax legislation, working with tax law, preparing and submitting tax documents for their clients and conducting calculations to find out how much their clients owe and how to minimise liability.
What skills do you need as an accountant?
There's a range of skills you can develop and use to be a successful accountant. They include:
Attention to detail: An accountant finds loopholes, inconsistencies and errors in tax records or financial statements and deals with large sums of money. Strong attention to detail allows you to maximise profits for clients while minimising risk.
Computer skills: Staying up to date with the latest software and accounting systems is imperative, since the more complex the market becomes, the more accountants rely on technology to simplify the process. Understanding spreadsheet, stock and accounting software can help to streamline your workflow.
Numerical literacy: Accountants constantly perform complex calculations and analyse numbers. A strong understanding of maths speeds up how quickly you can make calculations and lowers the chance of mistakes.
Organisational skills: Accountants analyse large volumes of data, maintain records and adhere to strict deadlines. Having good time management and task prioritisation allows you to deliver reports and projects on time and keep clients happy.
Qualifications for a career in accounting
There are many viable qualifications for starting a career in accounting. Each of the qualifications below is prestigious and recognised globally and can speed your development, especially performed in tandem with an accounting degree. They include:
An Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualification comprises four subsections: Foundation Certificate in Accounting, Foundation Diploma in Accounting and Business, Advanced Diploma in Accounting and Professional Diploma in Accounting. The AAT has no entry requirements and you can start this course as young as 16. Choosing this course of development is excellent for those who want a comprehensive start to their accounting career.
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) qualifications are important to have because they are well-recognised globally. Applicants have at least three GCSEs and two A levels, including maths and English, and three years of work experience. If you don't have relevant work experience, you can apply for the foundation courses the ACCA provides, such as the ACCA Diploma in Financial and Management Accounting or the ACCA Diploma in Accounting and Business.
ICAEW Standard Chartered qualifcation
The Institute of Chartered Accounting in England and Wales (ICAEW) offers a qualification known as the ACA. This globally recognised qualification is extremely prestigious in the financial sector. It takes four to five years to complete this qualification and an undergraduate degree is not a requirement, though it's helpful.
CIMA Professional Qualification
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants provides successful participants with the CIMA Professional Qualification. If you're interested in becoming a management accountant, this qualification provides knowledge and skills specifically for the role. The course consists of three pillars and 12 exams. The pillars are Enterprise Pillar, Financial Pillar and Performance Pillar, and you progress through the hierarchy of Operational Level, Management Level and then Strategic Level. Once you pass all requirements you become certified with Chartered Global Management Accountant status.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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