Accounting Degrees of Separation

July 31, 2019

Taking a Closer Look at Accounting Fields of Specialization 

Most people think of accounting as only filling out financial reports, filing taxes and doing audits, but there are many more career choices for those who take the steps to specialize. Different types of accounting specializations can require combined studies, such as accounting and information technology (IT), or certification, such as CFF (certified in financial forensics).

The Benefits of a Degree with Accounting Specializations 

The AICPA has a career planning tool that highlights some of the available fields of specialization for CPAs, which often yield advanced positions and greater earnings. As stated in the AICPA’s Career Planner, “the more expert you are, the more clients will clamor for you, and the more money you’ll make. Simple as that.” 

Combined accounting studies and certification programs include:

  • Accounting and Business Management can be combined for “Triple Bottom Line” reporting.
  • Adding an IT degree opens career opportunities in Mergers and Acquisitions or IT Auditing.
  • Accounting and the CFF credential are combined for work in Fraud and Forensics.
  • Combining Accounting with an ABV (accredited in business valuation) credential qualifies a person to evaluate entire business entities or portions of a business.
  • Acquiring both an Accounting degree and a CITP (certified information technology professional) opens career options in IT audits, IT security and other technological fields related to accounting.

How Much More Can Accountants With Specializations Make? 

College Choice explains the basics of studying for an accounting career, different types of available degrees and average earnings for different positions. The earnings figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that bookkeepers make, on average, $35,690 – $45,207, while a CFO will average $242,926 – $393,909, depending on the company and state of employment. The article also expounds on ways to pursue areas of personal interest via specialization, which not only increase a CPA’s salary but also provide for greater personal satisfaction.

Choosing An Area (Or Industry) Of Expertise

Areas of specialization are often chosen when earning higher degrees. After earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting, a CPA may earn a master’s with an emphasis in taxation or auditing, for example. Certificate programs, such as a CMA (Certified Management Accountant), or an area of focus, like budget analysis, can qualify a CPA for upper-level positions. 

Another common area of focused studies is governmental accounting and audits. Certificates, such as both CGAP (Certified Government Auditing Professional) and CGFM (Certified Government Financial Manager), may be required to work in governmental accounting.

Deciding between different accounting specializations

Career Options for Accountants (Outside of Traditional Accounting Positions) 

Some careers that are not typical accounting jobs are an easy transition for someone with accounting training and an enjoyment of number crunching, such as actuarial sciences, which are used heavily by insurance companies, and forensic accounting, which focuses more on the legal aspects of accounting and often involves research and court testimony. You may even use your accounting knowledge to work for the FBI as a Special Agent.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also lists several types of occupations related to the accounting field, including: 

  • Cost Estimators
  • Personal Financial Advisors
  • Post Secondary Educators 
  • Management Analysts 

This resource briefly details the degree(s) normally required, the average salary nationwide, and typical duties for each position. For example, a bachelor’s degree is typically required to work as a financial manager, and earnings are expected to average $127,990 annually. The financial manager has responsibilities to “produce financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies and plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.” 

Creating Your CPA Career Path

Creating Your CPA Career Path for Maximum Pay & Satisfaction 

Using the tools on these three websites, a CPA candidate can chart a course for a particular specialized accounting field, knowing the degrees, focused areas of study and certificates needed. A practicing CPA who desires to aim for a higher pay rate or specialize in an area of personal interest can also build a plan using these tools. 

MDS CPA Review has tools, too, which will guide you through the process of becoming a CPA and help you pass the exam