When it comes to charting their careers, accountants and other finance professionals are limited only by their imagination. Accounting jobs are available in literally every type of organization. If you are a finance whiz, whatever your hobbies or interests — sports, fashion, entertainment, the environment — there's a good chance you'll be able to leverage your expertise to find a dream job.
Want a career in finance but looking for something other than a traditional CPA position? Consider these less-conventional types of accounting jobs:
Accountant to the stars
You may not think of Hollywood as a mecca for accountants, but it is. Celebrities need trustworthy financial advisers to help them manage the practical aspects of their lives: making sure that their payroll for personal assistants is met, their income and property taxes are paid (multiple homes don't come without some record-keeping headaches), and their charitable and political donations are made as promised.
And it's not just jet-setting Hollywood celebrities who need accounting help: Movie studios and film and television production companies also need good accountants with experience in copyright law and royalties to oversee production budgets. After all, someone has to run the numbers to determine whether the studio can afford to hire that A-lister for its next blockbuster. Accounting job opportunities are also available in other areas of the entertainment industry, such as music and gaming.
The financial sleuth
Accountants have yet to get the glamorized treatment that FBI agents and crime scene investigators get on TV. There’s no CPA: New York City show in the works, as far as we know. But that doesn't mean that accounting jobs lack intrigue. Intelligence agencies such as the FBI and the CIA, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, hire their share of financial analysts and forensic accountants. The IRS also has a criminal investigation department. These professionals do everything from investigating large-scale financial frauds, money laundering and embezzlement to tracking the flow of money to terrorists and criminal organizations.
Although it is possible to find work in this field with a bachelor's degree, people with additional credentials, such as a CPA, will have an edge over the competition — as will candidates with law enforcement or military backgrounds, in addition to strong financial and analytical skills.
Environmentally conscious accountant
If being green is just as important to you as making the green, you might consider accounting jobs that specialize in helping organizations that are trying to become more eco-friendly (while also staying profitable). Many large corporations hire environmental accountants to help them find ways to reduce energy costs, manage pollution, maintain compliance with environmental regulations and make greener products.
These types of accountants are typically in higher demand at large corporations, and tasks include everything from consulting on the sale of industrial byproducts to overseeing the construction of green buildings.
The sports junkie number cruncher
If you have the right accounting expertise and a love for sports, your next accounting job opportunity could combine both of those interests. Sports stars need financial help; you can bet that high-profile figures such as NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball players have their financial advisers at the top of their contacts list. Sports-related organizations, from professional sports franchises to ski resorts and golf courses, also need accountants.
Accountants in the sports industry handle nearly every kind of task involving money, including setting ticket prices and handling payroll. Responsibilities could also include creating a team budget, negotiating salaries to attract top talent and even advising management on the financial viability of trading players.
Candidates with an MBA have an advantage in landing one of these positions, which can include perks like game tickets and inside access to your favorite team.
Long before Project Runway got popular, fashion designers relied on accountants to help them run the numbers side of their business. No matter how exciting the latest fashion line may be, it can hardly be labeled a success if it puts a designer in the red. Although designers always appreciate others "who speak Prada," they also need professionals who speak cost accounting.
Accounting software development
In the information technology world, accountants are needed to support a software company's team of managers and developers. In addition to assuming billing and time tracking responsibilities, they may also address such activities as license audits. They can step outside the accounting role in companies that focus on producing accounting and finance software to assist in user experience design.
College or university professor
Teaching at a college or university may be a next step for your accounting career if you like mentoring and sharing your accounting knowledge. CPAs are typically suited for this job, and there are many part-time opportunities that allow you to work full-time as an accountant and teach concurrently.
If you're considering teaching full-time, you'll likely need to get your Ph.D., though this requirement can vary by college or university. It most often applies if you want to become a research professor.
If you have a degree in accounting, chances are your job search is leading you to lots of traditional CPA and bookkeeping gigs. But sometimes, nontraditional accounting jobs like these can be more interesting and even more lucrative — and allow you to combine financial work with other interests.