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Five Alternative Careers for Accountants

alternative accountant careers

Alternative Careers for Accounting Majors


An accountant’s career path is usually clear-cut. Start out with experience as a financial analyst or auditor. Take the CFA or CPA exams. Refine your management skills to rise through your organization’s leadership ranks — maybe even become a chief financial officer.

What happens, however, when your passions change — when you want something new? An accounting degree is one of the most beneficial for navigating a new career. Here are five alternative careers for accountants to consider:

  1. Entrepreneur
  2. Business Analyst
  3. Non-Profit Accounting
  4. Communications Strategist
  5. Accounting Information Technology

1. Entrepreneur

Your time as an accountant will expose you to many different clients and business needs. You’ll eventually start to see gaps for products and services that should exist — but don’t. That gap could be your next job.

Consider the story of Vincenzo Villamena, founder at Online Tax Man, a boutique CPA firm specializing in tax preparation for entrepreneurs, U.S. expats, and other individuals in special situations.

After starting his career at Pricewaterhouse Coopers in the auditing and transaction services groups, he was able to learn about transactions, international taxation, and valuation. He realized, however, that entrepreneurship would be an ideal path.

“I’ve been splitting time between New York and South America, running my office virtually, and meeting many new friends and clients along the way,” says Villamena.

How to become an Accountant turned Entrepreneur

To make the transition to entrepreneur, you need an idea for a business, potential clients, and enough savings to keep you afloat if your situation changes.

2. Business Analyst

As an accountant, you deal with a particular type of company data — profits and losses. Keep in mind, however, that these metrics are a small piece of the pie. Organizations need to see the forest and the trees.

That’s where business analysts come in. As a business analyst, you’ll be synthesizing data from multiple sources to help your organization see how different initiatives fit together.

Transitioning to a Business Analyst

To make the transition to business analyst, you’ll want to learn at least one programming language — like Python, and ramp up your statistics skills — try Udacity for free quantitative tutorials.

3. Non-Profit Accounting

Are you passionate about a particular cause or organization? If so, this could be the perfect alternative accounting career. These organizations need accountants, and your skills will be extremely valuable.

Nonprofits can be extremely flexible organizations with an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ mindset. Even as an accountant, you’ll have an opportunity to engage with different departments and job functions.

Getting into Non-Profit Accounting

To make the transition into the nonprofit sector, you will need to identify organizations that align with your values. Keep in mind that you may not find the same salary at a nonprofit that you would at a corporate gig — you need to keep these financial considerations in mind.

4. Communications Strategist

The business community needs communications experts who can distill complex concepts into an easy-to-follow form.

Communications experts help businesses forge this path. You will help your company develop its PR, media relations, or blogging strategy.

Transitioning to Communications Strategy

To become a communications consultant, you would start practicing your writing skills. Learn about how companies are setting up their blogging programs, for instance. Create your own blog, or ask to contribute to your employer’s. Communication Strategists often have great people skills, and a sense of humor too!

5. Accounting Information Technology

Software and information systems play a major role in accounting — bookkeeping is exponentially more efficient for businesses that aren’t using physical books.

Accounting knowledge is crucial for building these systems.

Pursuing an Accounting IT role

If you’re interested in pursuing a technology role, additional education will be helpful. Look for programs or courses in management information systems, computer programming, and software development.

Choosing the Right Alternative Accounting Career

Test alternate career paths by shadowing other teams at your company. Your accounting degree is invaluable — beyond your employer’s finance or accounting team. Now is as great a time as any to venture beyond your comfort zone and explore. Ready to start a new career adventure? We can help! View our current job openings and get started today!

Author

Accounting Principals

We're Accounting Principals--a leader in finance and accounting staffing. In fact, since 2010, we've been part of Adecco Group, a Global 500 company and leader in staffing services around the world. But this isn't staffing as usual. We take quite a different approach than most staffing agencies. A people-focused approach. We believe in forming real relationships with both our clients and our candidates. We want to understand the needs on both sides.

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