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Career Paths for Graduates with an Online Accounting Degree

Accountant job positions are expected to grow at a higher than average rate until 2013. With this much growth in the field, new graduates must make a few choices on what to specialize in. The median annual salary of an accountant, or auditor, is roughly $61,000 per year.  The field encompasses work in the public and private sectors, as well as for and not for profit companies. Private accountants can also choose to serve individuals, helping to keep track of finances and build responsible spending plans for households.

Entry Level Jobs

Typical entry level positions for online accounting degree holders are auditors or staff accountants. In a broad sense, your job is about determining how much revenue was generated, how much profit was received, where the spent money went, and whether earnings statements are compliant with current tax laws. Auditors tend to spend their time evaluating a process to determine if it is running with utmost efficiency, while a staff account would “hit the books” and work directly on running the numbers for the company financing.

If you decided to work for a private company, your early position may also include internal auditing. Usually this means you may do some traveling to evaluate job sites for ways to save money.

Public Sector Jobs

A public sector auditor, someone who works for the government, looks for evidence of corporate fraud. Examiners work directly with tax payers to determine how much is owed, and how to collect that money. Examiners are expected to keep detailed records of the cases they deal with so that tax payers can be quickly notified when something is under or over paid.

Whereas an examiner works with individuals, revenue agents work with businesses that have more complicated tax forms. Both positions would report their findings to the tax payer, and if no payment is made, the case is referred to the collector. A collector’s job is to collect on payment, or verify that no payment can be made due to extenuating circumstances. To do this, collectors will investigate the property that the tax payer owns, like a mortgage, a car, or a boat, and determine the value of these items. At that point, the tax collector can take a lien out on those items that exists until the debt is paid, or the tax collector can choose to garnish wages.

Other Options

Forecasting is another option for someone with an accounting background. A forecaster takes existing company data, looks at consumer data, and uses this mash up to create a financial goal for the company to hit in the coming quarter.

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Day to Day

Day to day life for an auditor consists of working in office, roughly 40 hours a week. This depends highly on the path you chose, as examiners might have a different schedule than a revenue agent, who might see workload increases frequently throughout the year. Seven percent of accountants apply for government jobs at the state level, but the highest percentage of accounting degree holders are private accountants, or working for the private sector.

Auditors may also do more traveling than other kinds of accountants, as their work often involves field auditing. This process takes workers to locations sometimes outside of their country of origin, so it is recommended that you be comfortable with travel if your pursue this career path.

Pay Scale

Nonprofit workers can expect to take home less than their corporate peers, but the wage gap for entry level is about $50,000 per year for nonprofits to $60,000 for corporations. The bulk of accounting degree graduates go on to become accountants and auditors. These are typical stepping stones in the career path toward Chief Financial Officer, which can carry a six figure or higher salary depending on the company you work for.

Tips on Getting Ahead

In order to move up the corporate ladder, it’s typical to see accountants pursuing multiple credentials, accreditation, or an additional online accounting degree throughout their lifetimes. These added titles help springboard candidates into higher paid positions as controllers or chief financial officers.

You must have at least a bachelor’s degree to become an accountant, but you can apply for certifications outside of your school. Organizations like the Institute for Internal Auditors offer multiple certifications, webinars for members, reading lists, and other resources for job seekers looking to increase their opportunities.

According to the Better Business Bureau, you should expect to advance within about two years of employment with a private company.

If you’re having trouble moving up, try working on your communication skills so you can effectively present your ideas. One of the best hidden secrets you can do for yourself is to take a speech class and learn how to properly make a presentation.

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