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6 jobs and career paths in finance and accounting

Michael Feder

Written by Michael Feder

Kathryn Uhles

Reviewed by Kathryn Uhles, MIS, MSP, Dean, College of Business and IT

African american female financial professional wearing green shirt and holding a laptop

At a glance

  • Accountant, tax examiner and financial analyst are a few roles in finance that are expected to see growth in the coming years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Many finance jobs can be pursued with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or business.
  • Learn more about online degree and certificate programs in accounting and finance.

Few industries are as vast and diverse as finance, especially today. While most people may only think of careers like accounting, bookkeeping, banking and other general roles within the industry, there are myriad opportunities for those interested in working within the finance field or related niches.

Finance jobs range from entry level to more specialized roles and may require a variety of skills to qualify. As such, understanding all the possibilities, requirements and skills to be successful in each is an important first step to planning a career in business finance, especially when considering the rate of employment after graduation. It can take an average of three to six months to find work after graduating, so knowing exactly the path you’re on can potentially ease that pressure once starting a career.

6 finance career paths

Entry-level finance jobs typically require a bachelor’s degree. Depending on the specific industry you enter, qualifications for finance professionals may vary greatly.

With a large range of entry-level finance careers come equally diverse opportunities for people with specialized degrees, experience, and even niche interests and goals within business and finance.

Degrees in business and financial fields can help you stand out from other candidates and provide fundamental knowledge and skills that support your daily job responsibilities in finance.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the general requirements of any role you’re interested in pursuing in finance, both before beginning any business finance degree program and after completing your degree, as requirements may change over time. This way, you can specialize in a path you’re interested in, or even consider seeking a broader education that may qualify you for more than one potential career route.

1. Accountant

Accountants oversee financial information for a business or other establishment. This role includes tracking income and spending, researching better ways to improve tax returns, and identifying potential areas of overspending. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that accountants typically need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, like business or finance, to enter the field. Additional education and licensure is necessary to become a certified public accountant (CPA).

As of May 2023, accountants and auditors earned between $50,440 and $137,280, with a median wage of $79,880, according to BLS.

This industry is projected to grow at a rate of about 4% from 2022 to 2032, which is in line with the average growth for all industries in the U.S.

Salary ranges are not specific to students or graduates of University of Phoenix. Actual outcomes vary based on multiple factors, including prior work experience, geographic location and other factors specific to the individual. University of Phoenix does not guarantee employment, salary level or career advancement. BLS data is geographically based. Information for a specific state/city can be researched on the BLS website.

BLS Occupational Employment Projections, 2022-2032 is published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This data reflects BLS’ projections of national (not local) conditions. These data points are not specific to University of Phoenix students or graduates.

2. Tax examiner

Myriad roles fall within tax-related occupations. Many align to similar requirements and job descriptions as accountants, while others are specific to tax laws and collections. Tax examiners, specifically, work with small businesses and individuals to conduct audits, review tax returns and ensure that these groups pay their appropriate amount of taxes. Tax examiners can work for different levels of government but typically collect the taxes of individuals.

According to BLS, tax examiners typically need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field like business. As of May 2023, these professionals earned between $37,690 and $107,660, with a median wage of $58,530, according to BLS. BLS projects employment for tax examiners to show little to no change from 2022 to 2032. Still, about 4,100 job openings each year are predicted.

3. Financial analyst

Financial analysts can fill several positions within companies, banks, investment firms and other corporations that need detailed eyes on their finances. These employees assess the financial performance of an organization, such as investment and stock performance, to determine its value and make recommendations.  

This role typically requires a bachelor's degree to enter this position. However, some employers may seek applicants with a master's degree.

As of may 2023, financial analysts earned between $60,830 and $175,840, with a median wage of $99,010, according to BLS. The joboutlook for this role is projected grow 8% from 2022 to 2032, which is roughly about 27,400 openings, also according to BLS.

4. Auditor

An auditor is like an accountant, sharing many of the same responsibilities and skills, except rather than preparing financial statements for an individual or corporation, auditors are responsible for verifying the accuracy of such statements. There are two primary types of auditors: internal and external. Internal auditors are employed by the organization they are auditing, while external auditors are employed by an outside organization. Similar to accountants, auditors typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or an education in a related field.

As mentioned above, accountants and auditors earned between $50,440 and $137,280, with a median wage of $79,880, according to BLS. This industry is projected to grow at a rate of about 4% from 2022 to 2032.

5. Financial manager

Maintaining the financial health of an organization is the key responsibility of a financial manager. These professionals often create financial reports, forecasts and budget plans to maximize profits. Because of the high level of responsibility in this role, financial managers typically need a bachelor’s degree and five years of experience in a similar profession, such as accounting or financial analysis, to be employed, according to BLS.

As of May 2023, financials managers earned between $82,870 and $239,200, with a median wage of $156,100, according to BLS. Employment in this field is projected to grow 16% from 2022 to 2032, also according to BLS. This is roughly 69,600 openings each year.

6. Financial advisor

Financial advisors, like tax examiners, can work with individuals or organizations and are responsible for making recommendations or providing advice on financial investments, such as retirement planning, tax laws, insurance and more. Sometimes referred to as financial planners, these professionals can support a wide range of topics or specialize in areas like insurance and risk management, investment, and estate planning.

According to BLS, a bachelor’s degree is typically required, and certain certifications or a master’s degree can enhance a financial advisor’s reputation and ability to become a manager.

As of May 2023, financial advisors earned between private financial advisors earned betweem $48,730 and $239,200, with a median wage of $99,580, according to BLS.

Employment is projected to grow 13% from 2022 to 2032. That’s an estimated 25,600 open roles each year.

Earn a degree in finance from University of Phoenix

Develop skills required to succeed in a finance career with a degree or certificate in accounting or financial planning from University of Phoenix (UOPX). UOPX’s degree programs and certificate offerings are rigorous but have flexibility as an online program.

Learn more about our financial planning and accounting offerings. Students can earn a stand-alone degree or a certificate or combine a certificate with a business degree, like a Bachelor of Science in Business or an MBA. UOPX programs include:

To learn more about our educational offerings, how to save money on your education and how UOPX helps make college fit your busy life, visit phoenix.edu.

Headshot of Michael Feder

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and its Writing Seminars program and winner of the Stephen A. Dixon Literary Prize, Michael Feder brings an eye for detail and a passion for research to every article he writes. His academic and professional background includes experience in marketing, content development, script writing and SEO. Today, he works as a multimedia specialist at University of Phoenix where he covers a variety of topics ranging from healthcare to IT.

Headshot of Kathryn Uhles

ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Currently Dean of the College of Business and Information Technology, Kathryn Uhles has served University of Phoenix in a variety of roles since 2006. Prior to joining University of Phoenix, Kathryn taught fifth grade to underprivileged youth in Phoenix.

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This article has been vetted by University of Phoenix's editorial advisory committee. 
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