Accounting Careers Beyond the Big Four

Many graduating seniors want to begin their accounting careers at the most prestigious Big Four accounting firms. But the abundance of accounting jobs is good news for those who want something else.

Large, established accounting firms provide a traditional career path, but for those who look beyond the Big Four accounting firms and choose to take less-traveled road, there are plenty of interesting, satisfying options. Where are they going for their accounting careers?

A good place to start: Visit our Accounting and Finance Professionals' Career Center.

If you're looking for some alternative accounting careers and employment options, here are four to consider:

1. Government accountant — working for Uncle Sam

Government accounting is one of those accounting careers where you might work for one of a number of agencies, such as the Department of Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the General Accounting Office, or the General Services Administration.

Your job could include auditing the financial statements of government agencies, investigating illegal activity, or even testifying in front of committees. Or, you might work on a state or local level, investigating fraud or handling an agency’s revenue and ensuring that it is compliant.

This type of government accounting job would be ideal for someone interested in public service who is analytical and has high ethical standards.

Forensic accountant — inside investigation

Although some big accounting firms employ forensic accountants, when you look beyond the Big Four accounting firms, you can work for a forensic accounting consulting or risk management firm, a legal firm, an insurance company, or in law enforcement. Your job might include tracing funds and locating hidden assets or investigating bankruptcy fraud, credit card fraud, or embezzlement.

If you’re a fan of TV shows that focus on catching white-collar criminals, this type of cops-and-robbers accounting job would be appealing. To succeed in accounting careers such as this, you must be detail-oriented and have an eye for gathering forensic intelligence.

Nonprofit accountant — for a cause

There is an endless list of nonprofit organizations that hire accountants, including pet shelters, homeless shelters, battered women’s organizations and historical societies. Other types of nonprofits include nature preserves, churches, and numerous organizations that support education and the arts.

Accountants for nonprofits handle funds from a variety of sources, including contributions, membership dues, and fundraising activities. In addition, this type of accounting job includes ensuring that the organization follows the rules separating nonprofit from for-profit entities.

This is an ideal job for an accountant who is altruistic and wants to work for an organization that is committed to making a difference in the community. In addition, nonprofit jobs are better suited for individuals who place a higher premium on being fulfilled and satisfied by the work itself, rather than the pay, as they may not pay as well as those in the for-profit sector.

Entertainment accountant — complete with stars

Entertainment accountants might work for movie or TV production companies or for record companies. Among other duties, they are responsible for making sure that the movie, video or concert tour doesn’t go over budget, and they ensure that everyone gets paid.

One major advantage of this type of accounting job is the excitement of meeting celebrities and being invited to star-studded events. Entertainment accountants should be able to maintain confidential information and must be assertive enough to be able to reign in clients who don’t stay on budget.

Take a peek at what's out there! Take a look at some of the job openings available right now.

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