Operational Accounting Career Profile

Written By Accounting-Degree.org Staff

Operational accounting is the practice of minding the financial aspects of running a business, whether small or large. Operational accountants are directors, controllers, and planners. They often plan a business’s financial operations, as well as mind a company’s ledger while working with executive management to create and control budgets. They’re also responsible for ensuring that actual business activities are in line with the organization’s plans. To do so they provide management with detailed financial reports that compare actual revenues and expenses with what the original estimations were.


For entry-level work, a bachelor's degree in accounting, business administration, or a related field is typically required. Financial managers, which are senior operational accountants in large firms or corporate capacities, typically need to have at least five years of experience in addition to a bachelor's degree. Certification is recommended but not typically required, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The CFA Institute offers the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, but to qualify you must have a bachelor's degree, four years of work experience, and pass three exams. Another option is the Certified Treasury Professional credential offered by the Association for Financial Professionals. This certificate is available to those who pass a computer-based exam and have at least two years of professional experience.

Median Salary:


Operational accountants will have an extremely varied salary range, as some operational accountants are financial managers. These advanced occupations had a median salary of $103,910 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Higher-earning operational accounting positions will have slower growth through 2020, estimated at just under 10%. Entry and mid-level operational accountants will enjoy steady job growth and good occupational outcomes through 2020.

Job Outlook:

Projected to grow 16% between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS.

Operational accounting is an essential part of any functioning business. In the professional world, accountants in this discipline are expected to be well-versed in accounting laws and regulations and up-to-date on the latest changes to these standards. Accounting professionals are especially susceptible to the highs and lows of the ever-changing economy. Twenty-four percent of the workforce performing accounting and auditing jobs in the U.S. in 2010 worked in accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services, according to the BLS. Due to the recent influx of scandals and corporate financial crises, operational accountants with expertise in business law, as well as international commerce, may go far in this field.

Continuing Education:

Continuing education may provide accountants not only with additional knowledge of their occupation, but also invaluable vocational skills. After becoming certified and licensed, operational accountants are in-need of continuing education course credits to satisfy their minimum certification requirements and maintain licensure. Most accounting professionals pursue certified public accountant (CPA) certification initially, and may also add extra credentials to their CPA status. The American Institute of CPAs offers extensive information on its website for prospective operational accountants seeking continuing education course work in this industry. Candidates in a certification and/or continuing education program in operational accounting typically study performance management, cost management, internal controls, professional ethics, corporate finance, and financial statement analysis, among other curriculum specifically involving business and corporate operations.