Accounting is not just an essential field – every business relies on internal or external accountants, just as taxpayers do when April approaches each year. Accounting is also diverse field, with as many as 12 branches — including financial accounting, managerial accounting, auditing, government accounting, and tax accounting. Not only is it a diverse field, but it’s one that can be done remotely. Like entering any career, a bachelor of arts degree is your first step toward success.
In this blog, we’ll tell you more about five diverse jobs you can choose from with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in accounting, along with their salary potential and job outlook:
- Accountant or auditor
- Credit analyst
- Budget analyst
- Financial examiner
What Is an Accounting Degree?
The first thing to know about an accounting program is that you don’t have to be an expert mathematician to be successful. While the basics boil down to adding and subtracting, this degree covers the principles of budgeting, costing, reporting, and accounts analysis and will help you develop analytical, technical, and practical business skills you can utilize at any business. A bachelor’s degree in accounting provides a foundational understanding of fundamental accounting and business principles — along with the training needed to succeed in a variety of jobs.
Your education is not only a competitive advantage, but it’s necessary for accounting positions that require a bachelor’s degree. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports companies typically require an undergraduate degree in accounting for accountants and auditors.
What Jobs Can You Get With an Accounting Degree?
Your accounting degree can open many doors, and know that job opportunities don’t always come with the words accountant or accounting in the title. Here, we examine five career opportunities for graduates with a BA in accounting, along with the job responsibilities, median annual salary, and outlook for each job.
1. Accountant or Auditor
With your BA in accounting, you’ll be able to analyze and prepare financial statements or audit statements that come your way, which are essential responsibilities of today’s accountants and auditors, according to O*Net Online. This job category and the skills involved also apply to revenue tax specialist and financial services officer job titles.
Other common duties for accountants and auditors include:
- Inspecting account books and accounting systems for efficiency and effectiveness, as well as using accepted accounting procedures to record transactions
- Analyzing business operations, trends, costs, revenues, financial commitments, and obligations to project future revenues and expenses or to provide advice
- Auditing payroll and personnel records to determine unemployment insurance premiums, workers' compensation coverage, liabilities, and compliance with tax laws
- Advising clients in areas such as compensation, employee health care benefits, the design of accounting or data processing systems, or long-range tax or estate planning
- Evaluating taxpayer finances to determine tax liability, using knowledge of interest and discount rates, annuities, valuation of stocks and bonds, and amortization valuation of depletable assets
Critical skills you’ll need to succeed as an accountant or auditor include:
- Complex problem-solving
- Time management
- Critical thinking
- Systems analysis
According to O*Net, employees in the fields of accounting and auditing require “a considerable amount of work-related skills, knowledge, or experience” to succeed. In addition to the aforementioned bachelor’s degree, accounting related occupations typically require several years of work-related experience and on-the-job or vocational training.
It’s well-documented that a college degree can increase your earning potential and help keep you employed during economic downtimes. According to O*Net, accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $77,250 in 2021. These are growing fields with as many as 136,400 new accounting related job openings projected through 2031.
2. Credit Analyst
As a credit analyst, you could be the person determining the risk involved in granting credit to companies or individuals. A simple search of companies that hire credit analysts will return some of the most prominent names in banking, such as JP Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America, and Wells Fargo, among others.
According to O*Net, 95% of credit analyst positions require a bachelor’s degree, and the typical responsibilities include:
- Analyzing financial data, such as income growth, quality of management, and market share to determine expected profitability of loans
- Comparing liquidity, profitability, and credit histories of establishments being evaluated with those of similar establishments in the same industries and geographic locations
- Contacting customers to collect payments on delinquent accounts
- Evaluating customer records and recommending payment plans based on earnings, savings data, payment history, and purchase activity
- Reviewing individual or commercial customer files to identify and select delinquent accounts for collection
Critical knowledge and skills you’ll need to do the job of a credit analyst include:
- Economics and accounting
- Problem-solving and decision-making
- Monitoring and assessment of individuals and organizations
- Knowledge of laws, legal codes, and government regulations
- Ability to engage in active learning
Though hiring of credit analysts is projected to be slow through 2031, with just 5,400 new openings, according to O*Net, the salary is competitive. Credit analysts earned a median annual salary of $77,440 in 2021.
3. Budget Analyst
You’ll find openings for budget analysts in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, as organizations need educated workers to analyze their budgets for accuracy. According to O*Net, 64% of budget analyst positions require a bachelor’s degree, as workers will need to bring mathematical and deductive reasoning — as well as written and oral abilities — to the table.
The typical responsibilities of a budget analyst include:
- Summarizing budgets and submitting recommendations for the approval or disapproval of fund requests
- Analyzing monthly departmental budgeting and accounting reports to maintain expenditure controls
- Examining budget estimates for completeness, accuracy, and conformance with procedures and regulations
- Directing the preparation of regular and special budget reports
- Providing advice and technical assistance with cost analysis, fiscal allocation, and budget preparation
Critical knowledge and skills you’ll need to perform at the highest level in this role include:
- Mathematics for problem-solving
- Knowledge of economic and accounting principles
- Understanding of business and management principles
- Reading comprehension
- Ability to engage in active listening
O*Net projects slow growth for budget analyst openings through 2031, with 4,000 new positions coming online. The median annual salary for budget analysts was $79,940 in 2021.
4. Controller or Treasurer
The role of a controller is critical, as they are responsible for directing financial activities within an organization. Controllers are involved in planning, procurement, and investment decisions; and may also be placed in charge of a team that performs financial reporting, collections, payroll, and other accounting tasks.
According to O*Net, 56% of controller positions require a bachelor’s degree (32% require a master’s degree), and the typical responsibilities of a controller include:
- Coordinating and directing the financial planning, budgeting, procurement, or investment activities of all or part of an organization
- Providing direction and assistance to other organizational units regarding accounting and budgeting policies and procedures and efficient control and utilization of financial resources
- Preparing or directing preparation of financial statements, business activity reports, financial position forecasts, annual budgets, or reports required by regulatory agencies
- Monitoring financial activities and details — such as cash flow and reserve levels — to ensure all legal and regulatory requirements are met
- Delegating authority for the receipt, disbursement, banking, protection, and custody of funds, securities, and financial instruments
Critical knowledge and skills you’ll need to do the job of a controller include:
- Management of financial resources
- Management of personnel resources
- Negotiation and persuasion
- Knowledge of personnel and human resources principles and procedures
Controllers and treasurers not only earn lucrative salaries – the median annual wage was $131,710 in 2021, according to O*Net – but the field is growing much faster than average, with as many as 71,300 new openings projected through 2031.
5. Financial Examiner
Your accounting education will make you well-versed in the most up-to-date laws and regulations regarding the finance industry, and that will come in handy if you pursue a role as a financial examiner. According to O*Net, 86% of financial examiner positions require a bachelor’s degree, and common responsibilities include:
- Reviewing balance sheets, operating income and expense accounts, and loan documentation to confirm institution assets and liabilities
- Investigating activities of institutions to enforce laws and regulations and ensure legality of transactions and operations or financial solvency by recommending actions
- Reviewing and analyzing new, proposed, or revised laws, regulations, policies, and procedures to interpret their meaning and determine their impact
- Reviewing applications for mergers, acquisitions, establishment of new institutions, acceptance in the Federal Reserve System, or registration of securities sales to determine their public interest value and conformance to regulations and recommend acceptance or rejection
Critical knowledge and skills you’ll need to succeed as a financial examiner include:
- Deductive reasoning
- Knowledge of law and government
- Knowledge of business and management principles
- Mathematical reasoning
- Management of personnel resources
Financial examiners earned a median annual salary of $81,410 in 2021, according to O*Net. The role is in demand, as the agency projects much faster than average growth and as many as 6,800 new positions becoming available through 2031.
Summary: What Can You Do With a BA in Accounting?
Companies – and individuals – will always need help organizing and analyzing their finances, and there will always be a demand for educated accounting professionals. With your bachelor’s degree, you can pursue a variety of jobs, including accountant, auditor, credit analyst, budget analyst, controller, revenue tax specialist, financial examiner, or financial services officer, to name a few.