Accounting is a skill that will open many career doors for those who are skilled in its craft. There are many directions you can take with an accounting degree, and choosing the right specialty is key to enjoying success in the field.

Financial Accounting

Financial accounting blends bookkeeping with accounting, leading to the eventual designation of Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Degree holders in the field often work for small businesses, on staff at hospitals or in private practice. Financial accounting is one of the basic accounting fields and many other fields build from it. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Certified Public Accountants earn a median salary of $61,690, with the top earners bringing in up to $96,890 annually. With the rise in small business formation, financial accountants are in high demand and growth in this area is expected to be steady.

While financial accounting is a broad brush specialty, it can also help you in mastering one of its sub-specialties. Financial accounting majors often take courses in economics, business law, ethics and forecasting. Accountants are required to use generally accepted accounting practices (GAAP), so many courses focus on these practices. As in any course of study, taking an internship will help you to gain insight into the field.


If you are meticulous and detail oriented, auditing may be right for you. This career field involves reviewing and evaluating financial systems, employee performance and organizational processes. Auditors ensure that companies are in compliance with laws and regulations and examine the validity of a company’s information systems. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for an auditor is on par with other professionals in the field. Auditors typically earn a median salary of $63,330 annually. With new regulations in the banking and healthcare industries, demand for auditors is soaring.

Auditing is usually offered as a part of a larger financial accounting sub-specialty. For students looking to break into auditing, the first step is to take courses in basic accounting. Elective courses like taxation, business law and financial reporting are helpful in preparing for a career in auditing.

Managerial Accounting

This specialty has several sub-specialties and is great for someone who is looking to break into accounting in the corporate arena. There are several career titles that fall under the managerial accounting umbrella, from comptroller to corporate treasurer to chief financial officer.

Corporate treasurers are responsible for all financial dealings within the company. They decide what the annual expenditures will be, manage the capital structures and manage the company’s debt. They are also responsible for maintaining the company’s stock holdings and creating financial compensation plans. Corporate treasurers often sit on the company’s board of directors and work closely with the company’s chief executive officers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that corporate treasurers earn an average salary of $357,309 annually.

Chief financial officers (CFO) are responsible for the day-to-day running of the company’s assets. They act as trustees, reporting directly to the corporate treasurer but managing an entire staff of financial professionals below them. The CFO reviews financial statements and makes sure that the finances balance out. CFOs often work on staff at major corporations, helping them to grow and earn more profit. CFOs command a median salary of $430,250 annually—more than the President of the United States.

Undergoing a course of study in managerial accounting requires rigorous study and a working knowledge of all aspects of finance. You will study topics like investing, corporate finance, accounting, reporting and budgeting. Managerial accounting majors often take internships in the field, gaining hands-on knowledge of the inner workings of corporate finance.

Breaking into an accounting career is a matter of selecting the specialty that will best suit your career goals. There are many paths that you can take with the right degree program, and the job market is desperate for skilled accounting graduates. Find your specialty today.