A Guide to Accounting Careers

Looking to start a career in accounting? Our guide to accounting careers covers everything from majors in this field to necessary education and skills. Get insider insight and expert advice on navigating the competitive field of accounting and landing the perfect job for you. Start your journey to a successful accounting career now.

Accounting professionals are highly regarded experts with a knack for money and working with numbers. They also earn a meaningful income, typically about $77,250 per year. 

But what exactly does an accountant do? What types of accounting careers are available, and how is the work environment? Find the answers to these questions and more below. 

What Is an Accountant, and What Do They Do?

Accountants are financial professionals who take on a host of responsibilities for companies and individuals alike. As an accountant, your responsibilities may include:

  • Bookkeeping: You may record transactions for companies, helping them keep track of their expenses and income for tax, fundraising, and other purposes. During this process, you’ll reconcile transactions with accounts, categorize transactions for analysis and tax purposes, and handle any employee or vendor reimbursements. 
  • Financial reporting and forecasting: You will typically provide the company’s management team with regular financial reports, financial forecasts, and more. 
  • Invoicing: As an accountant, you may be in charge of sending, tracking, and managing invoices. 
  • Tax preparation: You can also help individuals and consumers accurately file their federal, state and local income taxes to reduce their overall tax burden as much as possible. 

Careers in Accounting

Saying you’re an accountant can mean many different things. It might mean that you help people file their income taxes or that you work for a government agency or municipality. It could mean that you keep the accounting records or books for nonprofit companies or that you help local governments gain a better understanding of their cash flow. 

Below are details for some of the most popular accounting jobs and career paths: 

Government and Nonprofit Accounting Jobs

Government and nonprofit organizations follow different tax rules than private for-profit companies and individuals. In fact, these entities are tax-exempt, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need an accountant to help with their books. 

As a government accountant, you’ll play a meaningful role. You’ll produce financial reports that hold elected officials accountable for how they spend taxpayers’ money. Moreover, your work could help the government or municipality you work for optimize its spending, resulting in better services for residents in your community. 

The same goes for nonprofit organizations. Though they’re exempt from taxes, they’re still accountable to their donors, their stakeholders, and the communities they serve. You’ll help maintain transparency and accountability while ensuring donations go further in supporting the cause the nonprofit is centered around. 

Public Accounting Jobs

As a public accountant, you’ll provide services to the general public. This means you may help people in your community optimize their tax strategy, or you may end up working as a member of a large corporation’s accounting team, preparing financial statements  and helping to track and optimize spending. 

Public accounting jobs often provide you with more freedom as well. As a public accountant, you may be able to do most of your work from the comfort of your own home as you serve multiple individuals and corporations. 

Private Accounting Jobs

As a private accountant, you’ll typically work for one company, rather than a government, nonprofit, or mix of individuals and corporations. In most cases, the organization you work for will be a large company, and it may even be publicly traded. 

As a private accountant, you’ll track company expenditures, take part in transaction reconciliation, prepare quarterly and annual reports, and produce data that helps the company you work for better understand and optimize its financial situation. 

Auditing Jobs

Auditing involves examining financial statements of organizations  to ensure accuracy and compliance with laws and regulations or improvements to processes and internal controls. As an auditor, you may work for a private company or government agency. To become an auditor, you typically need an accounting degree and may also need to obtain auditing certification.

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts help companies and individuals make investment decisions by analyzing data, such as current business, strategy and economic trends,  and providing recommendations. They may also assist with budgeting and forecasting. To become a financial analyst, you’ll typically need a degree in finance or accounting.

Work Environment 

Most accountants and bookkeepers work in full-time positions, but you don’t have to. There are plenty of part-time and seasonal options to choose from too. Moreover, you’ll have the ability to choose your work environment. For example:

  • In-office: If you enjoy communicating with a team and work well in an office setting, this is the type of environment for you. There are plenty of opportunities with public accounting firms available for you if you thrive in an office setting. 
  • Virtual:  A wide range of accounting and bookkeeping positions are available if you would rather be a remote worker. You could launch your own small business or work for one of the countless accounting firms that offer work-from-home opportunities. In fact, Intuit TurboTax Live experts enjoy seasonal and full time positions from the comfort of their own homes, paving the way for virtual accounting. 
  • Hybrid: You may not want to be in the office all the time, but working from home all the time may be a drag too. In this case, look for an accounting job that gives you the opportunity to work from home while also coming into the office from time to time. 

Job Outlook 

Over the next decade, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects there to be plenty of opportunities for accountants. In fact, the bureau suggests that the number of jobs in the field will grow at a rate of 6% per year from 2021 through 2031. That averages out to about 136,400 new job openings per year.

The simple fact is that, if you live or work in the U.S., you’ll have to pay taxes. Moreover, businesses, governments, and nonprofits will always need to understand their cash flow and optimize their finances. As such, if you’re an accountant, there will just about always be a job available for you.

Accounting Certification

Obtaining an accounting certification can demonstrate your expertise in the field and enhance your job prospects. Some certifications to consider include:

Certified Public Accountant (CPA): This certification requires individuals to have extensive schooling (150 credit hours), pass the uniform CPA exam and maintain ongoing annual education requirements.  CPAs audit financial statements and serve as tax, business and financial consultants to businesses and individuals. 

Certified Management Accountant (CMA): This certification requires individuals to have a bachelor’s degree, two years of relevant experience and pass the CMA exam.  CMAs are focused on management accounting skills such as budgeting, forecasting, and risk management and generally use their analytic skills to assist in making strategic business decisions. 

Certified Internal Auditor (CIA): This certification requires individuals to pass the Internal Audit Exam and have at least one year of audit experience with a Masters degree, two years of experience with a Bachelors degree and five years of internal audit experience for non-degree candidates.  CIAs are  focused on internal auditing requirements such as risk assessment, control evaluation, and fraud detection. 

Interested in Tax or Bookkeeping? 

So the concept of a tax or bookkeeping career has piqued your interest, huh? That’s great news. A career in this field can be rewarding for many different reasons. However, there are a few steps you’ll need to take, and those steps differ depending on whether you want a career as a tax preparer or a bookkeeper. 

How to Become a Tax Preparer

If you want to become a tax preparer, you’ll need to consider the following: 

  • Your state’s requirements: Every state has its own licensing requirements for tax preparers. Make sure you understand and obtain the licenses required before you start preparing tax returns. 
  • Accreditation: Individuals and businesses often feel more comfortable when they work with accredited tax experts. You may want to consider taking tax preparation courses at an accredited institution near you to further your career or simply check out the Intuit Academy for two courses that can help you pursue a career as a tax preparer. Obtaining an accounting certification or badge can demonstrate your expertise in the field and enhance your job prospects.
  • Software: If you intend to work for yourself, you’ll want to choose your software carefully. TurboTax Live is a leading option — one that’s provided for free to all Intuit tax experts.

How to Become a Bookkeeper

If you would rather become a bookkeeper, you’ll want to consider the following to get started:

  • Requirements: There are no legal licensing or educational requirements to become a bookkeeper. However, some companies may have their own education and licensing requirements for the bookkeepers they plan to hire. It’s a good idea to seek a finance-related associate’s or bachelor’s degree to increase your chances of getting hired.
  • Certification: Because there are no educational requirements for bookkeepers, you’ll typically have a better chance of finding gainful employment if you decide to earn a badge or certification. There are multiple organizations that offer bookkeeping certification. Two of the best options are the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) and the Certified Bookkeeping (CB) program from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB). 
  • Intuit Academy: The Intuit Academy offers a Bookkeeping program. When you pass them, you’ll earn a badge that will help you further your bookkeeping career. 

Remote Entry-Level Accounting Jobs in Tax and Bookkeeping

One of the reasons so many people are looking for careers in accounting and finance is the opportunity to work remotely. There are a wide range of opportunities for tax preparers and bookkeepers at all stages, even those at the entry level, to work from home. 

For example, Intuit currently needs remote tax preparers and bookkeepers to help people get better results with the software. All Intuit TurboTax Live experts work from home using a computer with a high-speed internet connection and a headset.

If you’re interested in working remotely as a tax preparer or bookkeeper, applying directly or joining the Intuit Tax and Bookkeeping Talent Community may be the right move. 

Here are the positions that are currently available for you to apply. 

Tax Associate (Remote/Seasonal)

  • Minimum 2 seasons of paid tax preparation experience, with a minimum of 30 tax returns per tax year required. If you have the Intuit Academy Tax Level 1 badge, then you only need 1 year of paid tax prep experience with 30 tax returns per season. 
  • Prior tax preparation experience in a tax practice or retail setting 
  • Ability/motivation to expand expertise and obtain a tax credential or certification — Intuit offers a program for obtaining your enrolled agent (EA) credential
  • Knowledge of tax laws and tax concepts and familiarity with Form 1040 and schedules
  • Preparer tax identification number (PTIN) required

Credentialed Tax Expert (Remote/Seasonal)

  • Possess active unrestricted credential: EA (Enrolled Agent), CPA (Certified Public Accountant), or Practicing Attorney
  • Possess or be able to obtain any related state licenses, certificates, permits, or bonds
  • Possess active PTIN
  • Have 2 or more years of recent experience preparing federal and state individual 1040 tax returns for clients/customers, using commercial tax preparation software
  • Bilingual a plus

Bilingual Spanish Tax Expert (Remote/ Seasonal)

  • Possess active unrestricted credential: EA (Enrolled Agent), CPA (Certified Public Accountant), or Practicing Attorney
  • 2 or more years of recent experience preparing federal and state individual 1040 tax returns for clients/customers, using commercial tax preparation software
  • Possess or be able to obtain any related State licenses, certificates, permits or bonds
  • Possess active PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number)
  • Bilingual (English/Spanish) communication skills (written & spoken) required

Currently, there are three types of positions available for QuickBooks Live bookkeepers:

Associate Bookkeeper (Remote/ Year Round)

  • 1+ years domain experience
  • a minimum of 1 year of experience working within QuickBooks Online
  • QuickBooks Online Pro Certification Required 
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills

Client-Facing Expert Bookkeeper (Remote/ Year Round)

  • 3+ years of recent paid experience as a bookkeeper OR the completion of Intuit Academy Bookkeeping exam 
  • A minimum of 3+ years of recent experience working within QuickBooks Online
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills required
  • QuickBooks Online Pro Certification required
  • Ability to interact with clients through video and audio tools in a way that is professional, friendly, and reassuring
  • Proficient in QBO navigation and various workflows including A/R, A/P, payroll, sales tax, financial reporting, 3rd party apps integration, and banking functions to name a few.

Back Office Expert Bookkeeper (Remote/ Year Round)

  • 3+ years of recent paid experience as a bookkeeper OR the completion of Intuit Academy Bookkeeping exam 
  • A minimum of 3+ years of recent experience working within QuickBooks Online
  • Credentials/Certifications: QB Pro Certification Required
  • Proficient in QBO navigation and various workflows including A/R, A/P, payroll, sales tax, financial reporting, 3rd party apps integration, and banking functions to name a few.

Accounting Career Paths at Intuit 

As Intuit continues to grow the TurboTax Live and QuickBooks Live business,  we’re looking for people who are ready to join us on our journey. We offer many opportunities for career growth, from entry-level positions to higher-level managerial roles.

We believe in continuous improvement and encourage you to learn new skills and techniques through training classes, conferences, and other learning opportunities. If you want to further your career by learning how to use new tax-related technology or software programs, we can help make that happen. 

Intuit provides growth and development opportunities to support your journey and goals. Through experience and by earning your enrolled agent credential and/or bookkeeping certification you can develop into your future role as a Tax Expert, Lead, or Manager. If you’re already a Tax Associate interested in becoming credentialed, Intuit will cover the cost of study materials and curriculum to help you secure your Enrolled Agent credential to increase your TurboTax Live job opportunities!

Writing Your Accounting Resume 

Your accounting resume is the first impression you give hiring managers. It’s important to make that first impression count by including the following:

  • A headshot: Your headshot adds your face to your name and gives you a better chance of getting an interview. 
  • A catchy summary: A catchy resume summary tells hiring managers a bit about you, your work ethic, and what you’ll bring to the table if they hire you. 
  • Your experience: Clearly describe your experience, outlining every aspect of any accounting job you’ve had in the past — but don’t fudge it. If you don’t have any experience, that’s fine too. There are plenty of entry-level careers available for accountants. 
  • Education: Mention the highest level of education you’ve achieved. If you have a college degree or are currently in college, make sure to list that information. If not, consider taking an online accounting course to show hiring managers you’ve sought education in the field. 
  • Additional skills: Are you proficient with Microsoft Office? Do you type faster than the average person? Do you have any other skills that aren’t directly related to accounting but would come in handy in the career? If so, list them.

Join the  Talent Community at Intuit

It is important for future accounting students/ professionals to research potential career paths carefully prior to making any decision regarding specialization choice so you are best prepared when entering the workforce after graduation! As a member of Intuit’s Talent Community, you’ll have access to a wealth of industry information, from job openings to educational resources. You can even network with other professionals in your field who share your passion for helping others.

The Talent Acquisition team is dedicated to connecting people with exciting career opportunities and partnership within Intuit. The team works with Intuit's Tax and Bookkeeping experts, recruiters, and thought leaders to provide valuable resources, insights, and opportunities to help people achieve their career goals and business ambitions.