20 Accounting Careers and Job Types
Studying accounting is one of the safest ways to start a professional career. By learning essential business skills, you can embark on almost any business career.
But this list of accounting careers and job types focuses on roles where accounting skills are requisite. Generally, you need a professional accounting degree (bachelor or masters). To be competitive, you should also aim to qualify as a CA or CPA.
Career streams available to fully qualified accountants include auditing, business services, corporate, cost, financial, financial control, forensic, funds, insolvency, management and tax.
The paths to be an accounts clerk don't have to include a degree. Accounts clerks are responsible for recording certain types of financial transactions. For example, your focus could be on accounts receivable, accounts payable, billing or payroll. If you are the firm's sole accounting clerk, you’ll likely work with several transaction types. One way to begin your career is to complete a traineeship, probably one year in duration. Formal qualification options include a Certificate III in Accounts Administration, Certificate IV in Bookkeeping, or Certificate III in Business Administration.
Job titles: accounts assistant, accounts clerk, accounts clerk (accounts receivable), accounts clerk/finance officer, accounts payable clerk, administration and accounts clerk, credit controller, data entry/accounts clerk, finance officer, junior accounts clerk, legal accounts clerk, legal accounts manager, legal bookkeeper / accounts clerk / payroll, office / accounts clerk, office administrator / accounts clerk, payroll officer / accounts clerk, receptionist / accounts clerk, senior accounts clerk.
Are you detail-oriented and conscientious? Consider a career in auditing. Most auditors are external professionals who are sent or invited into companies to examine their finances, ensuring reports are accurate and practices up to the mark. Some companies have internal auditors. You’ll probably need a bachelor’s degree in accounting and registration with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Most auditing positions require CA (Chartered Accountant) or CPA (Certified Practising Accountant) qualifications.
Job titles: audit accountant, auditor, intermediate auditor, internal auditor, revenue auditor, senior accountant - audit, senior auditor, senior internal auditor.
Bookkeepers maintain a company's books. You generally don't need a degree for this role. Common duties include monitoring accounts received, paying bills on the business’s behalf in a timely fashion, and recording all transactions. If you’re interested in a career in this field, consider looking for an entry-level position with related duties (such as data entry clerk) and work your way up from there. You’ll also need to get certification to progress in your career. One popular vocational course is the Certificate IV in Bookkeeping.
Job titles: administration assistant / bookkeeper, bookkeeper, bookkeeper / accountant, client bookkeeper, corporate bookkeeper, company accountant / bookkeeper, junior bookkeeper-external, medical practice bookkeeper, MYOB bookkeeper, QuickBooks bookkeeper, senior bookkeeper, senior bookkeeper / accountant.
Business Services Accounting
If you have excellent communication and leaderships skills, a career as a business services accountant might be the path for you. You’d provide business and tax services to clients (small and/or large businesses). Duties can include providing advice and guidance on financial strategies, preparing tax returns, generating financial statements, and keeping track of depreciation of assets. An accounting degree and CA or CPA qualifications are necessary. Many positions require a substantial amount of experience.
Job titles: accountant business service public practice, business services accountant, business services accountant / client manager, graduate business services accountant, intermediate business services accountant, manager business services accountant, private clients supervisor, senior business services accountant, supervisor business services accountant, senior taxation and business services accountant, SMSF / business services accountant, tax and business services accountant.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
The position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is generally reserved for professionals with extensive experience. This senior executive oversees all aspects of the company’s finances, and is the person ultimately responsible for the enterprise’s financial well-being and success. The CFO must have strong leadership skills, as many people report to them. If you’d like to be a CFO one day, get certified as a CA (Chartered Accountant) or CPA (Certified Practising Accountant) after finishing your accounting degree.
Job titles: chief finance officer, chief financial officer.
If you’re ambitious and have an especially strong understanding of business, corporate accounting might be your ideal career. An integral part of the corporation, you maintain financial records and ensure the company complies with applicable policies, regulations and laws. You need professional certification and registration as a CPA (Certified Practising Accountant) with CPA Australia, or as a CA (Chartered Accountant) with Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. Positions in corporate accounting usually require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
Job titles: accountant - corporate finance, accountant - corporate services, accountant - corporate services (global compliance and reporting), company accountant, corporate accountant, divisional accountant.
Cost accountants monitor and analyse their company’s costs of materials, processes and products. They report findings in financial statements. Cost accountants provide advice to management regarding the most effective options to streamline and manage costs. Jobs for cost accountants exist in many different industries, including both manufacturing and services. If you’re detail-oriented and conscientious, as well as a strong communicator, a career in cost accounting might be for you.
Job titles: cost accountant, cost and systems accountant, cost / inventory accountant, senior cost accountant, trade and cost accountant.
Sound financial accounting is essential to any company’s success. The financial accountant or finance manager keeps track of his or her company’s financial transactions. This professional must use the correct procedures to generate financial reports that are given to regulators and shareholders. They monitor company incomings, outgoings and liabilities. An accounting degree and professional certification and registration as a CPA or CA is usually needed for a career in this field. Excellent analytical and organisational skills are also critical.
Job titles: assistant financial accountant, commercial finance manager - research, divisional financial accountant, finance accountant, financial accounting manager, financial accountant, financial accounting manager, financial analyst, financial analyst - major projects, financial systems accountant, financial reporting accountant, lead financial accountant, senior accountant - finance operations, senior financial accountant, senior financial accountant - group finance.
Financial controllers work closely with executive management teams, playing critical roles in the running of businesses. They control company finances, keeping track of internal controls and ensuring that everything is running as it should. These professionals have duties in areas such as accounting and finance, as well as operations, personnel, marketing and production. Many financial controller positions require applicants to be qualified accountants, professionally registered with CPA Australia or Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand.
Job titles: assistant financial controller, cost controller, divisional financial controller, finance manager, financial controller, group financial controller, regional financial controller.
A career in financial planning is a fantastic choice for people who can focus on detail and the big picture at once. A financial planner or advisor analyses their clients' finances and guides them in making the best possible decisions. Financial planners provide advice and recommendations on investments, tax laws and insurance. They work independently and/or within companies. If you want to become a financial planner, you will need to fulfil the requirements set out by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). You should have a degree in financial planning or perhaps in business or accounting (with a focus on financial planning). If you later decide to choose a specialty in financial planning (such as superannuation or insurance), you will need to do further training. When you start your career, you will likely begin in a paraplanner or administrator position and move up from there.
Job titles: associate adviser, associate advisor, associate director, associate financial planner, client services officer, commercial financial adviser, commercial financial planner, demand and supply planner, finance manager, financial adviser, financial adviser – servicing, financial advisor, financial advisor and financial analyst, financial planner, financial planning assistant, junior financial planner, paraplanner, senior advisor, senior financial adviser, senior financial advisor, senior financial planner, senior financial planner / manager, senior paraplanner, senior planner, strategic financial advisor, superannuation advisor
Forensic accountants detect crimes such as fraud and embezzlement. These professionals also analyse financial information for court cases, such as divorce proceedings. Their expertise can also be used in various criminal trials. It’s possible that you’ll find employment with a large company that has its own forensic accounting team. If you’d like a career in this field, get an accounting degree and then seek professional registration as a Chartered Accountant (CA) or Certified Practising Accountant (CPA).
Job titles: forensic accountant, forensic accountant manager, forensic solutions manager, lead financial accountant.
As a fund accountant, you’ll carry out all accounting functions for an investment portfolio. The investments might be commodities, securities, or real estate, and they could be held in a mutual or hedge fund. You’ll be required to work within strict deadlines, as daily reporting is required. Fund accounting jobs exist in financial organisations’ fund management areas. After you finish your accounting degree, pursue professional registration as a Chartered Accountant (CPA) or Certified Practising Accountant (CPA).
Job titles: financial accountant - fund and investments, fund accountant, portfolio accountant, senior fund accountant, senior asset accountant, senior fund/property accountant.
If you’re a recent graduate of an accounting degree program and haven’t yet earned your CA or CPA qualifications, a position as a graduate accountant might be for you. You can work in this role while you do your CA or CPA course work and examinations. A position as a trainee accountant, on the other hand, is appropriate for someone who is still at university. Both positions will help prepare you for your future career.
Job titles: accounting / bookkeeping intern, accounts intern, graduate accountant, trainee accountant.
Group accountants work in a parent company’s head office, carrying out accounting duties relating to the various subsidiary businesses and companies in the group. They are required to understand and analyse the performance of every entity. They often work closely with various finance divisions and levels of management. To pursue a career in this field, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in accounting and professional accreditation as a Chartered Accountant (CA) or Certified Practising Accountant (CPA).
Job titles: group accountant, group accountant - property and construction industry, group accounting manager, group financial reporting accountant.
Personal and business insolvency is an attractive field for accountants with outstanding interpersonal, communication, and leadership skills. After finishing your accounting degree, find employment in the field to build up your experience. You’ll probably need to complete ARITA (Australia Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association) qualifications. Being a CA (Chartered Accountant) rather than CPA (Certified Practising Accountant) might give you an advantage. Insolvency accountants carry out investigations, prepare statutory reports and returns, and communicate with creditors and external stakeholders.
Job titles: insolvency senior accountant, insolvency accountant, insolvency practitioner, intermediate / senior accountant - insolvency and reconstruction, personal insolvency accountant.
Management accountants create the financial reports used by companies to make informed business decisions. They monitor the financial position of the company, make predictions, and present information in effective ways (such as through using statistical techniques and charts). These professionals sometimes gain positions within senior management teams. After finishing your accounting degree, secure professional registration with CPA Australia or Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. Most management accountancy positions require several years of experience.
Job titles: assistant management accountant, management accountant, management and financial accountant, manager-management accounting operations, manager / senior manager-accounting consulting services, senior management accountant, site accountant, strategic accountant, strategic financial management accountant, systems accountant, qualified management accountant.
Accountants play a significant part in Australia’s mining industry. As a mine accountant, you might work on-site some or all the time. Your exact duties will depend on your employer. You’ll carry out detailed financial reporting that's essential to the continued viability and success of the mine, maintain fixed asset registers, and put together general ledger reconciliations. Good communication skills are key to this position. CPA or CA qualifications are generally required, as is experience.
Job titles: accountant - mining, mine accountant.
Project accountants do the accounting work for individual projects instead of businesses overall. Keeping careful track of individual projects is a critical component of monitoring and ensuring overall company performance. These professionals collect, analyse, and compile data to ascertain their projects’ progress and financial performance. To pursue a career in this field, work on getting your bachelor’s degree in accounting and gain certification as a CA (Chartered Accountant) or CPA (Certified Practising Accountant).
Job titles: assistant project accountant, project accountant, program accountant, senior project accountant.
Revenue accountants are needed in any business that has sales and service revenue. One of the most significant duties is to monitor accounts receivable and payable. They must oversee bank and company account reconciliation, and deal with monthly revenue intake sheets, daily receipts, and inter-company reports. These professionals are responsible for the accurate recording of transactions, and they prepare monthly financial statements. Qualifications as a CA (Chartered Accountant) or CPA (Certified Practising Accountant) are usually required for this position.
Job titles: revenue accountant, senior accountant.
Tax accountants specialise in taxation. They handle audits, financial records, and tax returns for individuals and/or corporations. When these professionals work with individuals, duties likely include assisting clients with correctly completing tax forms and providing advice on financial decisions. They may also offer advice on how clients can reduce the amount of tax they have to pay. Tax accountants who work in a corporate setting tend to need more experience, as corporate taxes are significantly more complex than individual ones.
Job titles: head of accounting and tax, senior tax accountant, tax accountant, tax and accounting advisory, tax / corporate accountant, taxation accountant.
Become an Accounting Body Member
Australia has two main professional accounting bodies. Professional accounting courses at university are designed to meet the initial requirements for membership. To gain a competitive edge, you should aim to become a member of one of the bodies after graduating.
To become a Chartered Accountant (CA), you need an accounting degree accredited by Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand (Chartered Accountants ANZ). You also need to complete the CA program, pass the necessary examinations, and do three years of approved employment. Continuing professional development is also required.
To qualify as a Certified Practising Accountant (CPA), you need to get an accounting degree that CPA Australia recognises, complete the Practical Experience Requirement and study requirements, and pass examinations. The CPA program has three study options: distance learning, full-time study, and a combined postgraduate degree.
Jobs in Australia
Accountants are always in demand and the occupational category is one of the largest. Australia is projected to have 202,000 'Accountants' by 2022. The stats don't separate the different career paths as much as we'd like. The detailed accounting and finance job classifications focus on clerical and administration roles, such as accounting clerk and bookkeeper.
Projected job numbers by 2022
|Management and Organisation Analysts||66,700|
|Financial Investment Advisers and Managers||47,200|
|Insurance, Money Market and Statistical Clerks||30,000|
|Credit and Loans Officers||25,600|
|Auditors, Company Secs, Corporate Treasurers||22,200|
Source: Department of Employment, Australia 2017