In general, accountants work as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), managerial accountants, and budget analysts, reviewing financial documents and preparing tax returns. However, they can also pursue careers in a surprising number of other fields — after all, most industries and types of businesses rely on accountants.
THE FIVE UNIQUE ACCOUNTING JOBS DESCRIBED BELOW REPRESENT A SMALL SAMPLE OF THE POSSIBILITIES FOR ACCOUNTANTS WHO THINK CREATIVELY.
In addition to traditional accounting careers, accountants may work as fashion purchasers, entrepreneurs, and FBI investigators, helping to stock the garment industry, create their own financial service companies, and bring down criminals by testifying as expert witnesses. The “boring” accountant stereotype does not apply to these unusual accounting jobs.
Prospective accounting majors and accountants considering a career change can design their desired job by blending their accounting skills with other interests, passions, and/or hobbies. Since so many industries rely on these workers, accountants can pursue a wide variety of careers. The five unique accounting jobs described below represent a small sample of the possibilities for accountants who think creatively.
FASHION PURCHASING MANAGER
Also called buyers, fashion purchasing managers buy high fashion and ready-to-wear clothes for top retailers. They may also purchase accessories, shoes, and jewelry. Fashion purchasing managers with a background in accounting draw on their cost analysis skills to determine the best purchases and evaluate contracts.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), purchasing managers earn an annual median salary of $67,600 per year.
- Understand fashion trends and bring creative skills.
- Create and maintain records detailing purchases.
- Evaluate the cost of fashion purchases.
- Negotiate contracts with suppliers, manufacturers, and vendors.
- Assess products to make sure they meet standards.
Fashion purchasing managers typically hold a bachelor’s degree with some business or finance experience. Most purchasing managers also have several years of work experience as a buyer or purchasing agent. Accountants interested in fashion purchasing can earn certifications to stand out on the job market. For example, the American Purchasing Society offers a certified purchasing professional credential, while APICS grants a certified supply chain professional credential.
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Forensic auditors combine investigative skills with accounting abilities. They analyze financial documents to identify financial fraud, embezzlement, extortion, and other illegal activities. Many forensic auditors work for law enforcement agencies — including the FBI — to bring charges against companies or individuals.
In addition to working for the government, forensic auditors can work in the private sphere, investigating company finances, personal finances, and financial statement fraud. Forensic auditors may also testify in court as expert witnesses, using their accounting training to help bring criminals to justice.
The BLS reports that accountants and auditors earn an annual median salary of $70,500.
- Investigate financial documents to uncover fraud.
- Assess damages caused by financial fraud.
- Interview key witnesses with information about suspected fraud.
- Create reports on the findings of a forensic audit.
- Act as an expert witness during a court case.
Forensic auditors typically hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting for entry-level positions. Many forensic auditors also earn their CPA credential. CPAs must earn 30 credits after completing a bachelor’s degree to meet requirements, which many candidates accomplish by earning a master’s degree. Most forensic auditors also complete job training after receiving a job offer. For example, forensic auditors at the FBI complete a six-week training program.
NONPROFIT DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
Nonprofit development managers work with an organization’s top executives to meet development plan milestones. They help create and implement a nonprofit organization’s long-term plans, such as designing growth strategies for the organization. Development managers often work closely with fundraisers and finance departments to assess costs and create budgets for the organization — both of these tasks require strong accounting skills. These professionals may also apply for grants to help fund their organization.
The BLS reports that development managers earn an annual median salary of about $111,000, although those in the nonprofit field may earn less.
- Oversee a nonprofit organization’s development plan.
- Direct fundraising efforts.
- Monitor an organization’s budget to keep costs low.
- Strengthen relationships with current donors and build relationships with potential donors.
- Conduct outreach efforts to reach growth milestones.
Most nonprofit development managers hold a bachelor’s degree and several years of experience working for nonprofit organizations. An accounting degree prepares graduates for positions as development managers, overseeing budgets to ensure an organization meets its financial goals. Nonprofit development managers may also pursue a master’s degree in accounting, nonprofit management, or a related field to advance their careers. Typically, nonprofit development managers do not hold additional certifications or licenses.
Entrepreneurs create new companies and market new services or products. They found businesses, raise finances from investors, and create business plans designed to grow their venture. Accounting skills help entrepreneurs manage cost and revenue projections, create budgets, and design financial plans that prioritize growth. Trained accountants can also market personal finance advising services, act as independent CPAs, or run businesses that bridge accounting and entrepreneurship.
The BLS reports that top executives earn an annual median salary of nearly $105,000, with CEOs making close to $190,000 a year.
- Create a business plan to launch a new business.
- Raise capital for a new business.
- Analyze expenses and projected revenues to make a profit.
- Offer accounting services as an independent accountant.
- Design financial plans for a startup business.
Entrepreneurs do not need to meet typical education requirements. In fact, some of the most famous entrepreneurs, including Bill Gates, Ted Turner, Anna Wintour, and Ellen DeGeneres, never earned a college degree. However, accounting and business training helps entrepreneurs launch new businesses; this is particularly true for accountants going into business for themselves. Accountants can start their own financial advising company with a bachelor’s in accounting, although operating as an independent CPA requires a master’s in accounting or an accounting graduate certificate.
FILM PRODUCTION MANAGER
Film production managers oversee a film’s production budget and ensure that the production stays under budget. Film production managers meet with producers to estimate the cost of the production. They can also play a role in negotiating salaries for production staff and overseeing the cost of filming. Accounting skills help film production managers estimate costs and keep a shoot on budget.
- Create a budget for a film production.
- Negotiate salaries for actors and production staff.
- Work with producers to estimate costs.
- Manage the budget during a production.
- Oversee the production team before and during a shoot.
Film production managers typically hold a bachelor’s degree and several years of production experience. A bachelor’s in accounting or a closely related field can help prepare production managers to oversee a film’s budget and create accurate cost estimates for a shoot. The position requires strong organizational, management, and analytical skills. Gaining experience in production helps accountants and accounting graduates advance into the role of film production manager.
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