Which Way? 4 Accounting Career Paths for Job Changers

Career Paths

For some accounting and finance professionals, career paths lead to promotions and roles with greater responsibility. Others swerve off into new positions — maybe even changing accounting career paths entirely.

If you have strong analytical skills or compliance expertise, you’re in good shape. Those skills are in high demand, according to Robert Half’s Salary Guide.

If you’re looking for a change, do you know which accounting career paths and positions are right for you? Here are four to consider, along with tips to make the switch from one trajectory to another.

1. Financial and business systems analyst

What they do: Consulting is an excellent option for finance professionals with several years of experience and strong analytical skills. Financial analysts and business systems analysts help companies devise strategies to increase efficiency, capitalize on business opportunities, lower costs and mitigate risk.

What you need: A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in your field is essential, and many employers look for candidates with a master's degree in business administration (MBA). Depending on your area of expertise, pursuing credentials such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) can boost your marketability.

2. Internal auditor

What they do: In a constantly evolving regulatory environment, internal auditors assess a company’s systems and operations to confirm they are compliant with the law, while making recommendations for improvement. Auditors can specialize in a variety of areas, including technology, fraud and financial reporting.

What you need: A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required, although some employers prefer a master’s degree. Obtaining certifications such as the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) or Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) can help you get an edge on other candidates.

3. Controller

What they do: If you have a passion for management and budgeting, working toward a career as a controller might be ideal. Controllers plan, direct and coordinate all accounting operational functions. They manage the accumulation and consolidation of all financial data necessary for the accurate accounting of consolidated business results.

What you need: A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or business administration is necessary, although many employers require an MBA as well. Credentials such as the Certified Public Accountant (CPA), CFA or Certified Management Accountant (CMA) are often expected.

4. Forensic accountant

What they do: Would you like to use your accounting powers to fight crime? Forensic accountants investigate fraud such as money laundering and embezzlement by analyzing an organization’s financial records.

What you need: While a bachelor’s degree in accounting is the minimum requirement, earning a master’s degree in forensic accounting may be necessary depending on the employer. You’re likely to need a CPA credential. Some employers also look for CFE or Certified Forensic Accountant designations as well.

Additional resources

Does Your Career Need a Change in Gear? How do you know if you’ve been in the same job too long? In this post, discover a few indicators that it’s time to move in a new direction.

How to Find the Best Accounting Jobs: Landing the best accounting jobs takes effort, strategy and professional networking. Read this article to find out where you should start.

Salary Calculator: Use our calculator to look up salary data by title and location and find out the types of professionals companies are hiring.