Let’s be honest, the accounting field isn’t exactly known for being exciting and dynamic. Thoughts of sitting in front of a computer holding a calculator all day tend to come to mind when you think of what accountants do.

There’s definitely some truth to that, but accounting isn’t necessarily a “boring” career field. You can do a lot more with an accounting degree than just prepare taxes. If you want to break the monotony associated with accounting and explore career options outside of being a tax preparer, take a look at these alternatives.

Forensic Accountant

When something fishy seems to be going on with a company’s finances, forensic accountants are the ones who have to investigate and analyze the problem. Forensic accountants also look into personal finances when people are going through a divorce, bankruptcy, or are under suspicion of fraud. They’re job is to follow the money and identify anything illegal or out of place.

One of the cool things about forensic accountants is that they can work for a ton of different places. Here are some organizations that have forensic accountants on their payroll:

  • CIA
  • FBI
  • Police departments
  • Banks
  • Insurance companies
  • Forensic accounting firms
  • Law firms
  • And of course, the good old IRS

Requirements: If you’re interested in being a financial sleuth, you’ll need a bachelor’s in accounting and your CPA certification. It’s also helpful to have some coursework in criminal justice, a Fraud Examiner Certification (CFE) and Forensic Accountant Certification (CrFA).

Bank Auditor

If you’d rather not get involved with individuals’ finances or criminal enterprises, but still want to do some investigative accounting, you could become a bank auditor.

Bank auditors have a similar role as forensic accountants, but they strictly focus on monitoring the practices of banks. They’re generally employees of a specific bank and audit the different branches owned by the company.

They go around and perform inspections of the banks to ensure that they’re keeping up with company policy and aren’t doing anything that could be considered fraud or illegal. They also go beyond just looking at financial records and check the performance of the tellers to make sure everything is on the up-and-up.

Since the banking industry is constantly changing their regulations, it’s up to the auditor to make sure their banks are in compliance. It can be a tedious job sometimes, but someone has to do it.

Requirements: The minimum requirements are usually a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance. But a lot of companies want people with a master’s degree, as well as some experience working at a bank. Lastly, a Certified Bank Auditor certification will help you get a boost in pay and move up faster.

International Accountant

More businesses have international connections and partners than ever before. Because of this, there has been a rise in the need for international accountants. These are people who handle finances across different countries.

Countries have different trade regulations, tax systems, and banking regulations. Since there isn’t a universal tax system or business guidelines, companies hire international accountants to help ensure they’re following the best practices of every country they do business in.

Some specific areas of accounting that international accountants deal with are auditing, analyzing financial reports, and budgeting. In addition to the practices being different, the currencies are also different, which is another reason international accountants are needed.

A huge benefit of being an international accountant is that you’ll get to do a decent amount of traveling as you go to the different places your company does business with. It’s a great job for people who like to explore and don’t mind flying throughout the year.

Requirements: To get a job as an international accountant, you’ll need your bachelor’s in accounting, and of course your CPA certification. It’s also helpful to speak at least one other language, as you’ll be dealing with a lot of people who might not speak English. It helps break down some communication barriers. If you have any coursework in international business, that’ll be helpful too.

Accounting Information Technology (AIT)

This isn’t really a specific job title as much as a career field. Companies no longer use pen and paper to track their finances — at least they shouldn’t be — and programs like QuickBooks and Peachtree (now Sage50) have made accounting a lot less time consuming.

The companies that make this software rely on people with knowledge of accounting to help them improve their products and create new ones as well. There is a ton of accounting-related software out there beyond just the more well-known ones companies use for tax purposes.

All of the other careers I’ve talked about use software to help them perform their audits and generate reports. None of this software would be possible if it weren’t for the accountants that the developers hire to help them understand accounting principles and practices.

In addition to the development of accounting software, you could also get involved in the sales aspect of these applications. Accountants are good at helping other accountants see the value that a piece of software can offer them because they’re on the “inside” of the industry and know what the customer needs.

Requirements: Depending on what specific area of accounting software you want to get involved in, the requirements could be as basic as having a degree in accounting, to needing a degree in accounting plus IT experience. If you want to get involved with software sales, you’ll need experience in customer service or direct sales.

Entrepreneur

If you’d rather just work for yourself, you could always open up your own accounting firm. People will always need accountants, so there won’t be a lack of demand for your services. There’s also some freedom that you get with getting to choose what specialty you want to practice in.

You could open up your own firm that specializes in forensic accounting, auditing, international accounting, or specifically for helping individuals file their taxes.

There’s a misconception that accounting is seasonal due to taxes. All of the careers mentioned here are needed year-round, and you can start a business in any of those areas.

Requirements: You’ll need a bachelor’s degree (depending on your state) to take the CPA exam, and if you have a master’s degree, it will help give potential clients more faith that you know what you’re doing. In addition to that, it’s also helpful to take some classes in business and marketing. You’ll have to build up your clientele and grow your own business like any other entrepreneur.

See alsoThe Best Majors for Entrepreneurs

No Limits

Don’t limit yourself to just one career option. This was just a very small list of interesting career options for accounting majors. There are dozens of other jobs you can get with an accounting degree that don’t restrict you to sitting behind a desk 8 hours a day.

 

Image: Ken Teegardin