What Type Of Accountant Should I Be?

Tell anyone you’re an accountant and they’ll immediately ask if you’ll do their taxes. It’s an inevitability. But you seriously have a huge choice in careers paths. With all the options, you may wonder, “what type of accountant should I be?”. We’ve got you covered. We’ll look at the four major categories of accountants and which careers fall within each category. Then we’ll cover a few other fun career paths (cue everyone scrolling to the bottom).


Corporate/Internal Accountant

If you’re looking for a safe career, corporate and internal accounting are great options. As a corporate accountant, you’ll work for a specific company, helping them through their financials and ensuring the accounting stays on track.

You may be an accounting manager, an AP clerk, an AR clerk, a payroll clerk or a controller. If you work in internal audit, you’ll monitor your specific company’s financial records for accuracy. You may also be allowed leeway outside of financials; you can make efficiency recommendations and offer financial planning advice to upper management.

Checklist for corporate accounting:

• You like being an expert at one thing.
• You like feeling secure in your job.
• You like knowing what you’re going to do every day.
• You like being home for dinner every night (except at the end of the month/quarter/year).


Public Accountant

As a public accountant, you’d work for a firm and assist companies or individuals with their accounting. You may be an auditor, a tax professional or a business consultant.

Public accounting firms are a great place to start your career. You’ll be exposed to several different types of businesses (my first year I audited a horse farm, a car parts manufacturer and gardening company) and you’ll really get a feel for working with financial statements.

Checklist for public accounting:

• You like having your hand in many different pots.
• You like to travel.
• You like life a little more unpredictable.
• You like a nice sized salary.
• You don’t mind putting in the hours.
• You want to move up the ladder quickly.


Government Accountant

I’m sure you know federal and state employees have great perks. So why not use accounting to work for the government? You can be an assistant examiner, where you evaluate government organizations for accuracy. If that doesn’t’ sound that great, you can always work for the good ‘ole IRS. Just don’t come after me. Not that you’ll need to. I always pay my taxes.

Checklist for government accounting:

• You like a safe job.
• You don’t mind a slow climb to the top.
• You like having government holidays off.
• You prefer predictability over salary.


Managerial (Cost) Accountant

In managerial accounting, you’ll analyze the different costs related to your company’s product or service. You’ll develop budgets, target costs or look at inventory. A cost accountant’s job takes considerable training and is outside the norm of traditional accountants. That’s why they have their own certification (certified management accountant or CMA) outside of becoming a CPA.

Checklist for cost accounting:

• You’re really into budgeting.
• You like being an expert at one thing.
• You like more security.
• You like to analyze data and explore ways to make your company better.


Other Careers

These are the major categories of careers, and each category contains several different jobs. But there are plenty of other accounting jobs that you can do outside of these categories. Here are a few that may intrigue you:

• Forensic Accountant – In this job, you’ll delve into an organization to see if a white collar crime has occurred. Forensic accountants are in high demand and have to have a wide range of skills, from accounting to law to business.
• Sole Proprietor – If you simply can’t work for someone else, consider branching out and starting your own business. You can niche out into whatever field you like; maybe you’ll be a tax professional or a small business consultant. While you’ll have everything on the line starting your own business, you ‘ll no doubt enjoy the freedom and flexibility that working for yourself has to offer.

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