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6 jobs and career paths in finance and accounting

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 financial planning from University of Phoenix!

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).

BLS states that accountants and auditors had an annual wage range between $47,970 and $128,970 in May 2021. This industry is projected to grow at a rate of about 6% between 2021 and 2031, 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.

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. In May 2021, these professionals made between $35,260 and $102,840. BLS projects employment for tax examiners will decline by 7% between 2021 and 2031. Still, about 4,300 job openings each year are predicted.

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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.  

Financial analysts reportedly earned a median annual wage between $57, 900 and $166,560, according to 2021 BLS data, and generally require a bachelor’s degree for entry-level roles. These roles are estimated to grow 9% between 2021 and 2031, which is roughly 32,000 openings a year.

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 of May 2021, auditors earned an annual salary between $47,970 and $128,970, according to BLS. Employment for this profession is projected to grow 6% between 2021 and 2031. This is an estimated 136,400 openings each year.

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 2021, financial managers earned between $77,040 and $208,000, according to BLS. Jobs are projected to grow 17% between 2021 and 2031, according to BLS. That’s an estimated 71,300 job openings in this career.

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 2021, financial advisors earned between $47,570 and $208,000, according to BLS. Employment is projected to grow 15% from 2021-2031. That’s an estimated 30,500 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.

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