How to Become an Investment Accountant
| Accounting.com Staff Modified on March 23, 2022
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Investment accountants manage stocks, bonds, and other investments for portfolio managers and brokerage firms. These professionals may work independently for multiple clients or with one investment firm as a dedicated account manager.
According to ZipRecruiter data from October 2021, investment accountants earn an average of $65,650 a year. Professionals can also pursue advanced positions with higher earning potential, like chief investment strategist and investment officer.
Prospective investment accountants must complete a bachelor's or master's degree in accounting. Investment accountants can earn their certified public accountant (CPA) credentials and state licensure to pursue advanced positions.
This guide provides an in-depth outline of the education, experience, and credential requirements to begin an investment accountant career.
Steps to an Investment Accountant Career
- Get a Bachelor's Degree: An aspiring investment accountant can start by earning a bachelor's degree in accounting or business administration with an accounting concentration. Some accounting programs offer investment focuses that build skills in developing budgets, using forecasting tools, and analyzing investments. Speaking with an admissions counselor can help prospective students decide which degree is right for them.
- Gain Work Experience: Bachelor's degree graduates typically gain investment accounting experience through apprenticeships, internships, or entry-level jobs. Accounting firms commonly hire recent graduates. Some employers may require accountants to pursue master's degrees and CPA certification.
- Get a Master's Degree: Professionals with a master's degree in accounting or business administration can pursue advanced job opportunities. A master's also helps fulfill the requirements for CPA certification. Many master's in accounting programs encourage each applicant to provide professional references and a resume detailing relevant work experience.
- Sit for the CPA Exam: Investment accountants may file information with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which requires them to possess CPA licensure. Independent investment accountants may find it easier to seek clients with CPA certification. A CPA candidate must have 150 credit hours and professional accounting experience to sit for the CPA exam.
- Become Licensed: CPA-certified investment accountants can pursue licensure with their state. In addition to CPA certification, most states require 1-2 years of work experience and an ethics exam to obtain a license.
Required Education for an Investment Accountant
Investment accountants with bachelor's degrees in accounting can pursue entry-level positions with brokerage firms. This degree teaches core accounting concepts like financial accounting, cost analysis, and auditing. Similarly, a bachelor of business administration with an accounting concentration blends analytical accounting skills with business management strategies.
Learners interested in boosting their job prospects or earning CPA licensure should pursue master's degrees in accounting. Master's-level concepts include advanced accounting techniques, project management, and accounting information systems.
A master of business administration (MBA) in accounting can also boost career opportunities by providing knowledge of business strategy, risk management, and business analysis.
A master's degree offers additional credit hours that CPA candidates need to sit for the exam. Some investment accountant employers also require candidates to hold master's degrees in the field.
- Read about bachelor's degree programs in accounting
- Read about master's degree programs in accounting
- Read about MBA programs in accounting
Certifications and Licensure for Investment Accountants
While private organizations provide certifications to eligible individuals, government agencies offer licensure.
Investment accountants must possess CPA licensure to file reports with the SEC. After earning certification by passing the CPA exam, an individual can apply for state licensure, if required. This credential can lead to better job or client prospects.
Learn more about required credentials and optional education for investment accountants below.
Investment accountants do not need any specific credentials. However, some brokerage firms require candidates to possess CPA certification. The SEC also requires any investment accountant who files reports with the agency to pursue and maintain CPA licensure. The American Institute of CPAs sets and maintains the CPA exam and certification standards.
CPA candidates can pursue their credentials after completing bachelor's degrees, although most individuals may need additional credits from graduate school before sitting for the exam.
Each state creates education and experience requirements for CPA licensure. Typical CPA requirements include U.S. citizenship, state residency, 150 credits, 1-2 years of professional experience, and completion of an ethics exam or course.
Licensed CPAs maintain CPA licensure through their states' accountancy boards. The process typically requires a renewal application, proof of continuing professional education, and adherence to ethical standards. Renewal periods vary from 1-3 years.
Accountants can sometimes practice with just a bachelor's degree in accounting, which delivers a strong foundation of analytical skills, law compliance, and financial management. However, the specialized field of investment accounting may require candidates to possess advanced credentials.
A master's degree in accounting or business administration provides a deep understanding of equity investments and investment strategy development. Graduate degrees also assist students in gaining the 150 credits necessary to sit for the CPA exam.
Bachelor's degree-holders can often transition into master's programs immediately following graduation. Some schools require or encourage master's degree candidates to gain at least one year of relevant work experience before applying. Earning a bachelor's and master's degree in accounting usually takes six years.
Required Experience for an Investment Accountant
Investment accountants can enter entry-level roles at some brokerage firms with a bachelor's degree. However, employers may require candidates to complete internships or apprenticeships before becoming investment accountants. Other firms may train entry-level accountants with senior investment accountants or financial managers.
Investment accountants pursuing master's degrees may need work experience before applying. Many states also require 1-2 years of professional accounting experience for CPA licensure candidates.
Should I Become an Investment Accountant?
The investment accountant career path includes similar steps as other accounting careers. An aspiring investment accountant can begin their career by earning a bachelor's degree and gaining on-the-job experience through employment, an apprenticeship, or an internship.
Investment accountants interested in climbing the career ladder should consider pursuing master's degrees. These advanced credentials can lead to higher-paying jobs with prestigious brokerage firms. However, students should prepare to spend more time and money with this pathway, as a master's degree and CPA certification can take two years to complete.
Investment accountants earn an average of $65,650 a year as of October 2021, according to ZipRecruiter. In contrast, executive-level accounting positions can earn double or triple that salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), top executives earned a median salary of $107,680 as of May 2020.
The Job Hunt
Networking is crucial in finding investment accountant jobs. Candidates can tap into alumni networks, attend conferences and job fairs, and speak with peers at professional development events. Prepare for networking events by creating a resume and gathering recommendations for any networking or employment opportunities.
The following online job boards make it easy to search for investment accountant jobs in your area:
Search jobs for free and attend eFinancialCareers' virtual career events to network with companies and ask questions before applying. The mobile app allows candidates to search for employment on the go.
As the largest global job site, Indeed posts international investment accountant jobs from companies of all sizes. Users can create accounts to upload their resumes, save searches, and browse job listings.
Business owners and recruiters post jobs to this social media/networking hybrid site. An Easy Apply feature for designated jobs allows candidates to apply quickly with their optimized LinkedIn profile.
In addition to posting jobs, Glassdoor allows users to compare salaries and read company reviews from past and current employees.
Read more tips on job searching:
- How do you professionally network in accounting?
- Is it worth working with a recruiter?
- How do you write a resume?
Earning accounting credentials can also lead to advanced roles with higher earning potential. These professionals should gain at least a few years of experience with brokerage firms to pursue these positions. An investment accountant career path can include the following careers:
- Financial Manager: A financial manager oversees a company's financial reports, budget, and activities. These professionals develop long-term financial goals based on forecasts and monitor the legal aspects of financial activities and planning. The BLS reports a median 2020 salary of $134,180 for financial managers.
- Chief Investment Strategist/Officer: Chief investment strategists and officers outline investment strategies for brokerage firms. Typically, this executive position oversees investment accountants and consultants to ensure compliance. These professionals also allocate company funds for investments and related activities. PayScale reports that these professionals earn an average of $174,307 a year as of September 2021.
Questions About the Investment Accountant Career Path
What degree do you need to become an investment accountant?
To become investment accountants, candidates should earn a bachelor's in accounting or business administration. Some may also pursue master's degrees in accounting.
How long does it take to start an investment accountant career?
An aspiring investment accountant should expect to complete a bachelor's in four years and a master's in 1-2 years. The total time to obtain both degrees, work experience, and a CPA credential typically takes 6-8 years.
What certifications do you need along the investment fund accountant career path?
Investment accountants may file reports with the SEC, which requires them to possess CPA licensure. Candidates must sit for the CPA exam after completing their bachelor's degrees and gaining relevant work experience.
Are investment accountants in demand?
The BLS projects accounting jobs to grow by 7% from 2020-2030, which is average for all occupations.
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