While you may think of an accountant as someone who helps you file your taxes, accountants are so much more than that. Whether it’s helping you create a tax strategy for your business or helping to advise on financial strategy, accountants do more than help you figure out your standardized deductions for the year.
Working in accounting doesn’t mean that you only focus on taxes (although, there’s a good chance that taxes are a big part of the job). The accounting field has a wide variety of job titles and fields you can work in. And it also has some of the highest-paying jobs in the job market today.
What Kinds of Accountants Are There?
While there are many types of accountants, there are four main fields that accountants (and their related occupations) work in. Within each broad career area, there are different positions but similar career paths.
Public accountants work at independent, third-party companies, and perform a variety of accounting tasks for their clients. This includes preparing tax returns and auditing financial statements.
Industry accountants typically have similar job responsibilities to public accountants. However, industry accountants work for only one client—their employer.
Government accountants make sure that individuals and businesses follow tax laws and regulations. This includes making sure businesses and individuals pay their taxes (and the correct amount) or ensuring companies release accurate financial statements.
While not as common as the aforementioned accounting careers, this option consists primarily of professors who teach and train the next generation of accountants at colleges and universities. Unlike the other career fields, academia has its own career path that consists mainly of teaching positions.
Accounting Career Path
With the exception of academics, the career path for accounting jobs is nearly identical in all accounting fields. You need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or business for nearly every entry-level position.
Beyond your bachelor’s degree, you do not have to have a higher degree. However, many professionals in the accounting field choose to get their MBA. There are several certifications you can pursue, too, such as Certified Management Accountant, Certified Internal Auditor, or Certified Information Technology Professional.
That said, many accountants also become licensed Certified Public Accountants (CPA). While it is not required in all accountant career fields, most professionals find being a CPA helps them further their careers. However, some states require you to hold a CPA license to practice as any kind of accountant.
Once you’ve completed your education, the career path does not vary significantly by accounting field. Nearly all accountants start in an entry-level position. After a few years, you can move into a senior role. Then, if you choose, you can move into a managerial role where you will lead a team of specialists and senior staff accountants.
Beyond the managerial level, you can become the chief financial officer (CFO) of an organization or the partner of an accounting firm. Of course, many accountants work for themselves, keeping the books for clients and helping them fill out their tax returns.
The Highest-Paying, Remote-Friendly Accounting Jobs
With the growth of virtual work, it’s not uncommon to find high-paying remote jobs. Below, we’ve listed some of the highest-paying accounting jobs that can also be done remotely. However, it’s important to keep in mind that when you’re new to the accounting field, you will not start out with these titles or these salaries. These job titles come after you’ve worked in the field for years and have plenty of experience to back you up.
The chief financial officer (CFO) manages the finances of a company. This includes tracking cash flow, analyzing a company’s financial strengths and weaknesses, and creating an action plan to address any deficits. CFOs are usually responsible for ensuring the company is meeting its tax obligations, including paying taxes and taking any tax deductions they are entitled to.
Earning Potential: $97,000 to $500,000
A vice president of finance performs similar functions to a CFO, and the titles are often interchangeable. When both positions exist, the VP of finance focuses more on making sure that the company finances are managed correctly. They also make sure that the company’s long-term goals are in sync with the financial strategies the CFO put in place.
Earning Potential: $110,000 to $250,000
Tax managers create and implement taxation strategies for their clients. This helps their client avoid paying too much in taxes and also ensures that whatever tax strategies the client uses are legal. Because many companies conduct business in multiple countries, the international tax manager helps ensure their client complies with tax laws in every country.
Earning Potential: $110,000 to $167,000
A financial director reports to the CFO or VP of finance. Many of their job duties are similar to the CFO. A financial director, though, does not come up with the overall financial strategy for the company. They analyze the cash flow and budgets to help the CFO make the ultimate strategy decisions. Most of a director’s job is analyzing company performance and minimizing the company’s financial risk.
Earning Potential: $100,000 to $200,000
Finding a High-Paying, Remote Accounting Job
Clearly, there is more to accounting than being a bean counter. In fact, counting beans is just a small part of the role. While becoming an accountant requires an investment in your education, once you are on the accountant career path, there is very little standing between you and the highest-paying accounting jobs.
Whether it’s a job in finance or accounting (or even bookkeeping), we’ve got tons of flexible and remote job listings in all kinds of accounting jobs. And, FlexJobs members get full access to our job listings. Not a member? Join today and see what kind of high-paying accounting jobs are out there.
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