Building on Your Foundation: Career Progression in Accounting Jobs


You’ve settled into a great entry-level accounting job. You’ve mastered the beginning work, passed your certified public accountant (CPA) exam with flying colors, and now you’re ready to start thinking about advancement. You know your career path can take you through a range of senior accounting jobs, from manager to controller to CFO or even CEO. But how do you get that career progression started as quickly as possible?

Here are five tips on proving yourself and becoming a leader in accounting jobs:

1. Consider advanced certification.

Your CPA is a great achievement. But pursuing additional certifications or degrees can show your supervisors you’ve got the drive, as well as the desire, to move up. The Certified Internal Auditor (CIA),Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), Certification in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA), Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP) and Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA) certifications are all worth looking into, and so is getting an MBA with an accounting focus. Let your supervisors know you’re interested in advanced certification, and your company may pick up some or all of the cost.

2. Work above your level.

Before your bosses consider promoting you, they want to be sure you can handle higher-level responsibilities. So find ways to take on special projects that will allow you to showcase your skills. That way, you’ll demonstrate that you’re ready for career progression.

3. Speak up.

In large accounting firms, your supervisors may not know of your desired career progression unless you tell them. So talk with them about your goals. Ask for advice. Schedule regular performance reviews. If you’re working with hundreds of employees who are happy to stick with their day-to-day accounting jobs, your commitment to advancement can really stand out. And if you connect well with a particular supervisor, ask that person to mentor you. The more they know about your abilities and goals, the more willing they’ll be to help you get there.

4. Build up your nontechnical skills.

Entry-level positions often focus on technical expertise, but managerial accounting jobs require soft skills like communications, business sense and leadership. When you can demonstrate these skills in your accounting job, you’re showing greater readiness to move up from day-to-day technical work to positions of greater responsibility.

5. Don’t give up.

Keep in mind that getting promoted in accounting jobs takes time. No matter how much of an accounting rock star you are, your career progression will be measured over months and years, not days and weeks. So prepare yourself to play the long game. If you stay focused on working hard toward the position you want, your efforts will pay off down the road.

What skills and tips have helped you get promoted in accounting jobs? Share them below.