40 Top Paying Accounting Jobs

The spectacle-wearing pencil pusher in the green visor is so far in the past, it barely even registers as a stereotype anymore. Accounting today is one of the most high-tech, cutting-edge professions out there, making advances in realms ranging from Big Data analytics to cloud computing to blockchain technology. Accountants are the professionals who make sure that the money of corporations, governments, organizations, and individuals are being used well, and that means that, as long as there's money, accountants will be indispensable.

What Do Accountants Do?

Obviously, specific job duties depend on the specific jobs, but there are some skills that are pretty much required across the board. Obviously, a strong grasp of mathematics is essential. Every accountant, at whatever level, should have a general understanding of basic bookkeeping, in addition to more complex understanding of areas like auditing, payroll, financial reporting, and (of course) taxes. Even if you've worked your way to the managerial or executive level as an accountant, knowing the lower-level, day-to-day work of accounting will make you a better leader. Modern accounting is highly collaborative and team-based; while accountants do their fair share of individual work, being able to work well with others will be critical, especially in a corporate environment.

Since accounting, business, and finance are so intimately tied, an accounting major can be much more flexible than most students realize. Besides the conventional tax accountant or bookkeeper, an accounting degree can take students into the public sector as government officers or FBI agents; into music, fashion, sports, and Hollywood; into education, research, and policy-making; or into all sorts of profitable private practice. The financial rewards are considerable – the Bureau of Labor Statistics show the top 10% of accountants earning an average of $111,510 annually. There's plenty of room for more, too; the BLS expects accounting to grow at a pace of 13%, with more than 1.4 million jobs in 2022.

Education for Accountants

There are highly rewarding jobs available for accountants at every degree level, from associate's to doctorate.

Associate's Degree: Most students will get a 2-year associate's in accounting, or a 1-year diploma in accounting from a community college, and that's all most people will need to get a bookkeeping job, or a job as an accountant's assistant. While it's limited in terms of opportunities, students who graduate with an associate's can transfer for a bachelor's degree at a local university.

Bachelor's Degree: Most universities offer bachelor's degree in accounting programs that require a minimum of at least 120 credit hours. A large amount of these classes will focus on accounting, business strategy and general education courses. As the most common type of degree, students can land auditing, financial planning, consulting and technical accounting jobs. Most students can graduate within four to five years.

Master's Degree: The best Master's in Accounting degree programs can help prepare a student become a certified public accountant, either to work in their own firm, or to work for a corporation; to qualify for managerial degrees, a master's may be necessary. Masters degrees usually require two years beyond a bachelor's degree, but many universities are developing 4+1 programs that allow students to complete the master's in just one extra year. Most master's programs will require a specialization such as tax accounting or auditing, opening the door to higher positions in the accounting field. The good news is, you can now earn a top online Master's in Accounting degree from home.

The Accounting Degree Review ranking of the 40 Top-Paying Accounting Jobs uses Payscale data for median salary; we've chosen Payscale for our standard because Payscale's stats are based on the reported income of actual people who hold these job titles.

1. Vice President, Finance

Right at the doorstep of the C-suite, the Vice President of Finance is a crucial link between the highest executives and the management, making sure the desires of the C-Level is communicated to the lower rungs of the organizational ladder. The job of the Finance VP is to lead and coordinate company financial planning, debt financing, and budget management, while reporting back to the upper levels. V.P. Finance professionals usually work their way into their job from the management level; it's not usually necessary to have a master's degree, but having an MBA or MAcc in finance can distinguish the ambitious from the merely competent.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Set benchmarks to measure performance
  • Manage the preparation of all financial reports, forecasts, and white papers
  • Prepare financial analysis for contract negotiations and investment decisions
  • Work with department managers to develop long-term plans
  • Serve on planning and policy-making committees

While it's always possible for a smart, capable accountant to work up to the VP's office from within, it's much more common for companies to hire out. To get to VP, besides many years of experience, at least a Master's degree in accounting, business administration, or finance is a necessity.

Median Salary: $132,890
Education Level: Master's

2. Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Chief Financial Officer – the CFO – is one of the highest levels of authority and responsibility an accountant can aspire to. To become a CFO, an accountant must have the highest level of expertise, experience, and excellence – a long-standing track record of leadership and results. The larger and more complex an organization, the more crucial the role of a CFO becomes, as a centralized source of authority around all things money in the company. In other words, the buck stops with the CFO.

Primary Responsibilities: 

  • Direct annual and long-term financial goals and budgets
  • Ensure accuracy, timeliness, compliance of financial reporting
  • Develop and implement systems to maintain the corporation's long-term financial well-being
  • Oversee managers of financial departments (such as accounting, accounts payable and receivable, etc)
  • Report to executives and board of directors on the financial status of the corporation

To get to the executive level in an established corporation or company, you're going to need at least a master's degree (that's assuming you didn't start your own company and name yourself CFO – in which case, you need nothing!). However, with growing competition, more professionals with their eyes on the C Suite are earning doctorates, often in an accelerate executive or online format.

Median Salary: $127,780
Education Level: Master's

3. International Tax Manager

Business has been global for a long time, but in the era of the internet, there are really no borders anymore. A corporation based in the US may manufacture products in China made from raw materials bought in Africa and specialized components made in Germany. That's why international business is one of the fastest-growing specializations in business education, and why International Tax Managers are so valuable to a corporation. The International Tax Manager needs not only a thorough understanding of the American market and tax regulations, but of foreign regulations, cultures, business practices, and logistics. International Tax Managers are pivotal in mergers and partnerships between American and foreign businesses.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Analyze and determine alterations in exchange rates
    Record profits and losses from variations in exchange
    Review tax laws and regulations for different countries
    Establish strategies and business models to reconcile the regulations of other countries

The level of knowledge, research skills, and expertise you need to become an International Tax Manager means a graduate education at least. Specializations in international finance, business, and accounting are becoming increasingly common in the top business schools, even online.

Median Salary: $112,000
Education Level: Master's

4. Finance Director

If you're climbing the ladder to CFO, you're very likely to stop off in the office of Finance Director for a while. The Finance Director is usually just under the VP of Finance in the chain of command, working more directly with managers and employees to develop plans. Because people who reach the level of Finance Director have many years of experience, a Finance Director can expect to have a lot of latitude for developing their own procedures and best practices; if they get results, top brass will be happy.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Direct financial policies for companies and groups
  • Oversees all financial functions including accounting, budget, credit, insurance, tax, and treasury
  • Report to top executives on the accomplishments of financial departments

You're very unlikely to reach the level of Finance Director without at least an MBA or MAcc degree, and at least a solid decade of demonstrated success in the field. No Finance Director is going to stay on top of the game without continually keeping up with developments in the business, either, which may well mean continuing education periodically.

Median Salary: $110,050
Education Level: Master's

5. Corporate Controller

The Corporate Controller is not the WWE's most boring gimmick for a wrestler, but one of the most critical jobs in any corporation. While, in a smaller company, the Controller might be equivalent to a CFO, in most larger companies the Controller is the expert manager making sure that the work in billing, budgeting, tax preparation, and more gets done. They're the sergeant in the trenches keeping the soldiers on task while the higher-ups make plans, and without a good controller maintaining their day-to-day financial integrity, many a company would sink.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Prepare taxes for the corporation
  • Direct spending based on the approved budget
  • Manage employees in billing, accounts receivable, and other finance departments
  • Ensure compliance with workplace regulations and human resources practices

Corporate Controllers may find their way to their job with only a bachelor's degree in business, accounting, or finance, though at larger corporations a master's degree may have a higher chance of getting hired. Controllers have a lot of responsibility, and can expect to be paid in kind.

Median Salary: $93,030
Education Level: Bachelor's/Master's

6. Cost Accountant Manager

The modern accounting field is defined by its seemingly endless specializations; as business becomes more complex, it takes more specialized professionals to keep track of it all. Cost accounting is one of these specializations, focused very narrowly on analyzing the costs of producing a product, and the price it needs to be set to make a profit. Cost Accountant Managers need strong analytical abilities, as well as a wide-ranging understanding of all of the economic forces that determine cost and value.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Manage cost control procedures and systems
  • Analyze and interpret cost audits for management
  • Report on cost accounting to higher management
  • Manage employees within cost accounting department

Because of the specialized knowledge, in many different areas of business, economics, and accounting, a Cost Accountant Manager may need a master's degree, or at least a bachelor's degree and many years of experience. While the education brings the expertise, the experience really brings the judgment and problem-solving skills needed to make crucial decisions.

Median Salary: $82,950
Education Level: Bachelor's/Master's

7. Senior Financial Analyst

Senior financial analysts can be found in just about every industry there is. As long as a company is large enough to need a financial team, a senior financial analyst can usually be found there. Their primary duties are to review the finances of a company and make recommendations for how a company can lower costs and improve its financial situation. A senior financial analyst is the leader of a group of financial analysts who work with the money the company they work for is spending and making in all areas of the business. They must be very diligent, detail-oriented, and accurate.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Presides over a team of lower-level financial analysts
  • Prepares reports for director of finance, VP of Finance, and/or CFO
  • Prepare financial forecasts and make recommendation for future plans
  • Prepare and review financial reports for white papers or publication

The leadership skills that a Senior Financial Analyst needs will be earned over years of experience as a financial advisor or manager, but a master's degree in management, accounting, or business administration will make a big impact – on skills, and job market success.

Median Salary: $77,720
Education Level: Bachelor's/Master's

8. Compliance Officer

Violating government regulations – from federal finance laws to local ordinances – can bring down even the most successful corporations and companies, so that's why most large corporations will employ Compliance Officers. The Compliance Officer's job is to make sure that the company is abiding by all relevant regulations, from environmental regulations to discrimination laws. Compliance Officers must also make sure the company is acting ethically as well as legally in all its dealings.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Communicate relevant laws, regulations, and standards to employees, managers, and executives
  • Educate employees as to their roles in maintaining ethical and legal standards
  • Keep informed of changes in regulations
  • Manage a compliance team

Government regulations are complex, and the job of a Compliance Officer requires that they not only know managerial skills, but be able to keep up with political and cultural shifts. For that reason, corporations may require Compliance Officers have a master's degree, and specialization in areas like ethics, government accounting, or business law are preferred.

Median Salary: $75,830
Education Level: Master's

9. Assistant Controller

If the Controller's job is making sure that the work of a corporation's financial departments gets done, it stands to reason that the Assistant Controller is the Controller's second-in-command. In the event that an organization is large enough to need an Assistant Controller, that professional's tasks will be more direct in working with the departments. An assistant controller will need to be familiar with the company's practices and procedures, and be able to draw on a number of years of experience to make decisions.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Establishing and maintaining accounting practices and procedures
  • Manage the production of budgets and other financial operating reports
  • Report recommendations to top management
  • Manage the employees of the controller department

An Assistant Controller will definitely need a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, or some other business-related field like management, but may not need a master's degree to get the job. However, to advance to a Controller position, an Assistant Controller may want to think about going back to school, maybe to get an online accounting master's degree.

Median Salary: $71,160
Education Level: Bachelor's

10. Accounting Software Developer

Accounting in the 21st century is heavily technology-based; almost every aspect of the profession has moved from the paper forms and blue pencils of yesteryear to online. To keep up with changes in the field, software developers are creating new tools daily to handle tasks both big and small. An Accounting Software Developer needs to have a significant level of expertise in both areas to design and create programs that meet the needs of modern accounting, finance, banking, and business. Developers also need leadership experience and skills, as they will be leading the development team of programmers and designers on any large, complex projects.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Research and analyze the technological needs of accounting
  • Design programs to meet specific needs
  • Lead a development team to program tools for accounting and finance

Specialized business and accounting degrees focused on information technology have become widespread; any business or accounting school that isn't developing interdisciplinary IT Accounting degrees is already behind. While Silicon Valley may love the genius dropout, at least a bachelor's degree, and preferably a master's degree, will provide the expertise in both accounting and computer science needed.

Median Salary: $69,570
Education Level: Bachelor's/Master's

11. Accounting Information Technology Manager

Just as with Accounting Software Developers, Information Technology Accountants are key to keeping a modern accounting firm, corporation, or financial organization working efficiently. IT Accounting combines accounting, business, and management with knowledge of computer science, programming, and systems technology. For many organizations, having a designated accounting IT professional on staff is critical for

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Choose and maintain IT systems for accounting department
  • Manage IT department and other related employees
  • Analyze, assess, and make improvements to IT systems

Obviously, with the level of managerial and technical responsibility involved, an Accounting IT Manager needs a significant level of experience and education. A bachelor's or master's degree in accounting with an IT focus, or a similar management or systems program, will provide both.

Median Salary: $68,040
Education Level: Bachelor's/Master's

12. Accounting Manager

In a major corporation, financial institution, or government agency that requires a whole accounting department, someone has to lead. That's the Accounting Manager. Most often, the manager of an accounting department has been an accountant themselves, so an effective manager will know and understand everything the accountants are doing, from bookkeeping to audits to quarterly and annual reports. Ideally, the manager will also have a knack for leadership and teamwork, because accounting is a team sport these days.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Prepare financial information for management or executives
  • Submit reports on a weekly, quarterly or yearly basis
  • Examine financial data for forecasting purposes.
  • Lead accounting teams and department

It's entirely possible for accountants working for an organization to work their way into a managerial position, but for the most part, today most corporations will expect a master's degree for new hires. An accelerated program may help working accountants get there faster.

Median Salary: $68,000
Education Level: Bachelor's/Master's

13. Compliance Manager

The Compliance Manager works closely with the Compliance Officer; in a large enough organization, the manager will work directly with the members of the compliance team, reporting to the Compliance Officer on the progress of the team toward implementing compliance policies. That means both managerial experience leading teams, as well as knowledge of regulations and procedures. A good manager should be able to do it all, and work to connect upper management to the teams doing the grunt work.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Design and implement compliance programs, policies, and practices
  • Follow laws and regulations that affect policy
  • Present compliance reports to management
  • Lead compliance team as an effective office manager

To work at the managerial level in most companies, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree, but in an increasingly competitive job market, a Master's in Accounting, an MBA with an accounting specialization, or related master's degree or certificate will get you farther, faster.

Median Salary: $65,800
Education Level: Bachelor's

14. Accounting Professor

Accounting programs are booming, both bachelor's and master's, and who's teaching all of these classes? Accounting Professors, of course. The professors in an accounting department will generally have real-world experience in addition to their education, as many business and accounting professors come to teaching after working in the field. However, it's important to realize that, even with colleges and universities expanding their business programs, academia is a highly competitive field; there are never as many jobs as there are qualified graduates.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Teach accounting courses
  • Perform original research and publish studies in the field
  • Advise students, especially graduate students
  • Serve on committees and other service roles

If you're interested in teaching accounting, it's important to understand the academic hierarchy. You can teach accounting with a master's degree; in fact, business and accounting departments like hiring teachers with experience. But Professor is a profession all its own, and to reach that status, most colleges and universities will require a doctorate.

Median Salary: $65,500
Education Level: Doctorate

15. Forensic Accountant

Forensic accounting is one of the fastest-growing specialties in the field. Forensic Accountants specialize in areas like fraud, auditing, and white-collar crime, and as the government cracks down on financial wrongdoing, forensic accountants are in more high demand than ever. Forensic accounting combines knowledge of accounting, law, investigative techniques, data collection and analysis, and accounting technology. It's a complex field that requires a lot of education and experience, and forensic accountants tend to be well-compensated. Forensic accountants may work for corporations, nonprofits, or government agencies such as the FBI.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Analyze financial reports for irregularities
  • Design fraud protection procedures
  • Investigate financial wrongdoing
  • Testify and present evidence in court

With the high level of expertise, and the wide range of multi-disciplinary knowledge required, Forensic Accountants need a high level of education. While you may start your career in an entry-level position with a bachelor's degree in forensic accounting, a forensic accounting master's degree is definitely going to be preferred.

Median Salary: $65,360
Education Level: Master's

16. Credit Analysis Manager

It's an unfortunate reality of business, but from time to time, every organization faces the problem of unpaid bills from clients or customers. That's when the Credit Analysis Manager has to step in. The Credit Manager's job is to make sure debts to the company are paid, whether that means setting up payment plans with debtors, going into arbitration, or taking official legal action. It's a role closely related to accounting law, but credit managers also need to understand bookkeeping and other accounting basics. It's not all calling up and shouting, "Where's my money?" like a character in a mob movie.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Initiate legal action for collections
  • Negotiate payment options for debtors
  • Track delinquent accounts

To become a Credit Analysis Manager, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree and a solid few years of experience in leadership. However, a master's degree, especially one with a specialization in business law, forensics accounting, or management, will provide a stronger foundation and more job-market opportunity than just a bachelor's degree.

Median Salary: $59,880
Education Level: Bachelor's

17. F.B.I. Agent Specializing in Accounting

The FBI plays a major role in investigating white-collar crime, which means that the agency hires quite a few accountants. In fact, in the current era of globalization and explosive growth in finance, insurance, banking, and related sectors, expertise in accounting is defined as a "critical skill" – one of the elements that give applicants priority in hiring. Accountants assigned as special agents generally start at the GS-10 level, step one, while they undergo training at Quantico, Va., or as newly hired special agents. Accountants who work for the finance division of the FBI work as administrative employees — not agents — and can receive pay up to the GS-14 level of $84,697 and higher for management positions.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Leading and facilitating investigations into financial crimes
  • Preparing evidence and testimony for prosecution
  • Managing budgets and finances for the agency

FBI hiring standards would usually require at least a bachelor's degree for agents, but for the specialized skills that qualify for "critical skills" preference, a master's degree in forensic accounting, management, information technology, or a similar field is a minimum requirement.

Median Salary: $59,000
Education Level: Bachelor's/Master's

18. Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Officer

Every financial institution is governed by the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, which set standards for how banks record transactions; it also requires banks to report any signs of money laundering to the government. An Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Officer must be an expert in the requirements of banking regulations, and in the post-9/11 era, these specialists are especially essential in fighting the War on Terror, including terrorism-related money laundering schemes in the US.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Implement and direct regulation compliance
  • Establish procedures for remaining in compliance
  • Monitor the organization's recording and reporting of transactions
  • Coordinate with government agencies

The level of expertise and experience involved in the position means an Anti-Money Laundering Officer is going to need a strong foundation of research, knowledge, and skill. While you may reach that position with a bachelor's degree, any major bank or financial firm is going to expect a master's degree from applicants, especially one with a specialization in finance law, forensics, or a similar concentration.

Median Salary: $58,870
Education Level: Master's

19. Personal Financial Advisor

There's never been more of a need for personal financial advisors, and that's for a lot of reasons. For one, the wealthy are getting wealthier, but on the other hand, there are far more self-employed professionals and entrepreneurs who have given up the security of a traditional job for their independence. However, that also means giving up an HR department that can handle retirement, insurance, college fund investments, and all of the other services a Personal Financial Advisor provides. If you're making money, you need someone who knows what they're doing to help you manage it.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Meet with clients
  • Help clients understand the current state of their finances and consider options
  • Recommend or choose investment strategies
  • Monitor the progress in client's investments

Usually, to become a financial advisor in a firm, or to hang out your own shingle as an independent advisor, at least a bachelor's degree is preferable. A bachelor's in accounting degree will usually qualify you to sit for Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification, which is not required by all states, but will tell potential clients and employers that you can be trusted. Individual states may require their own licenses; know your state's regulations before you start giving out advice.

Median Salary: $58,760 (financial advisors)
Education Level: Bachelor's

20. Treasury Analyst

The Treasury analyst is the person holding the purse-strings; whether at a bank, government agency, corporation, or nonprofit, the Treasury Analyst oversees financial activity – things like cash flow, income, credit liability, and all of the assets (real, financial, and physical) that the organization owns. They keep all of the financial wings (bookkeeping, accounts receivable, etc) working in coordination to make sure the money is managed effectively. As analysts, treasury managers will need to see patterns and make predictions to plan for the future.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Analyze and prepare complex transactions, including international money transfers
  • Organize and maintain treasury accounts and processes
  • Research finance fees and recommend cost-saving measures
  • Oversee bank accounts, investments, and available cash

The educational entry requirement is a bachelor's degree, but to rise to the highest level, you'll need a master's degree. For a global or multi-national corporation, a specialization in international business would be a valuable credential on your resume.

Median Salary: $55,700
Education Level: Bachelor's

21. Compliance Analyst

Compliance Analysts are the professionals who comb the policies and procedures of their employer to make sure the company is in full compliance with federal, state, and local regulations, as well as basic ethical norms and best practices. In a small company, the same person may be compliance analyst, manager, and officer, but in a large and complex corporation, the Compliance Analyst will work in the compliance department, usually under a manager or officer, depending on how many branches there are on the corporate hierarchy tree.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Analyze company policies and procedures for adherence to regulations
  • Identify areas of conflict or failure to meet standards
  • Develop reports for management on weaknesses in procedures

You'll need at least a bachelor's degree to take on a job as a compliance analyst. However, the combination of accounting skills, research abilities to keep up with current regulations, and advanced analytical expertise may make it a good idea to keep going and earn the master's degree, especially if you want to advance.

Median Salary: $55,630
Education Level: Bachelor's

22. Tax Accountant

Once April 15 has come and gone, you forget all about taxes, but tax season is all year long for a Tax Accountant. Whether working in a corporate accounting office, for a public accounting firm, or as an independent CPA, a tax accountant has to always be on top of changing regulations, quarterly payments and reports, payroll and other employment taxes, and more – not to mention puzzling out ways to limit tax liability for clients. In a big corporation, that can mean working with a team, but many tax accountants find it profitable to make their own way.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Prepare and file income tax returns
  • Advice clients or employers of ways to limit tax liability
  • File extensions and ensure payment of late fines

You'll need at least a bachelor's degree to qualify for the CPA exam, which is a must if you're going to work as a tax accountant. If you're trying to get a job with a corporation or accounting firm, some positions may prefer a master's degree, but to set up your own shop, the CPA license and a bachelor's degree is all the qualification you need.

Median Salary: $55,100
Education Level: Bachelor's

23. Entertainment Production Accountant

If you've got those stars in your eyes, you don't have to act, dance, or sing to get to Hollywood; you can be an accountant in the entertainment industry. Major studio films and albums are multimillion-dollar projects, and so are major concert tours and festivals, requiring a lot of investors, and they need more than a few sets of eyes monitoring the budget. You may begin by working at the corporate headquarters, but if you show your value to the company, you may find yourself doing a lot of traveling. For example, on high-dollar productions, a production accountant may be on set for the entirety of a shoot, making sure whatever last-minute additions the director wants can be made within budget.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Monitor production expenses
  • Valuate companies, projects, and assets
  • Prepare budgets for productions

To get into the accounting department at an entertainment corporation, you'll need at least an accounting bachelor's degree and a CPA license. Many universities offer specializations in the entertainment business; an internship can prove your enthusiasm to employers. You may find more opportunities for advancement with a master's degree, but showbiz isn't known for valuing diplomas – it's known for valuing guts, smarts, and perseverance.

Median Salary: $54,690
Education Level: Bachelor's

24. Auditor

One of the fastest-growing specializations in accounting is Auditor, for good reason – auditors keep things together. You can be one of two types of auditors: you can be the kind of auditor that corporations and businesses don't want to see – the kind that works for the IRS or another government agency – or you can be the kind who works to make sure no one ever has to see the first kind. Auditors working for a corporation may be independent contracts, or work in the corporation's accounting department to keep records clean and legit.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Streamline financial record-keeping
  • Assess accuracy of financial statements and reconcile errors
  • Review and advise clients or employers on accounting procedures
  • Provide counsel on in the case of external audits

Auditing is an accounting specialty, and more business schools are adding this specialty, along with forensic accounting, to both bachelor's and master's-level programs. A bachelor's degree will be enough to get hired in most corporate or government positions, at least at an entry-level, but for more managerial responsibility, you'll need a master's.

Median Salary: $54,670
Education Level: Bachelor's/Master's

25. Cost Accountant

The professionals who are being managed by the Cost Accounting Manager (#6 above) are the Cost Accountants, who do the analytical and research work of figuring out the costs of production. Cost accountants measure the cost of producing products or providing services by determining the fixed and variable expenses necessary for production. These costs include research and development, equipment, marketing and human resources. The information gathered by a cost accountant is beneficial for budgeting and product pricing, which both affect the future profits of the business. Cost accountants often collaborate with an executive team to create a financial plan for the company.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Researching and analyzing costs of production
  • Reporting on findings to managers and executives
  • Developing plans for lowering costs

To get a job as a Cost Accountant, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree in accounting, forensic accounting, accounting information technology, or a related field. The job requires a lot of information and data processing, so advanced computer skills will be essential.

Median Salary: $54,600
Education Level: Bachelor's

26. Budget Analyst

It's a funny thing that happens in most organizations; budgets are set, money is spent, and if nobody's paying close attention, the spending will look nothing like the budget. Budget Analysts are responsible for efficiently distributing funds and making sure that each department (and irresponsible executive) is spending no more than their budget. Budget analysts also help plan for future budgets, making sure each department gets what they need.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Provide guidelines for annual budget
  • Meet with managers of each department to determine needs
  • Approve new expenditures and plans
  • Monitor spending throughout organization

To become a budget analyst, earn a bachelor's degree in accounting; specializations in areas like forensic accounting or actuarial science could be particularly helpful, since so much of budgeting involves examining previous budgets for flaws and areas of improvement.

Median Salary: $54,520
Education Level: Bachelor's

27. Cost Estimator

How does a contractor know that building a new school will cost $5 million, or that a new section of highway will cost $25 million? Do they just make it up? Well, maybe sometimes, but those contractors tend to get sued a lot. The good ones employ Cost Estimators, who use their specialized knowledge of accounting, business, engineering, and mathematics to make plausible estimates of all the costs of a major undertaking. Cost Estimators tend to work in construction, engineering, and manufacturing, and the field grows as the economy grows – 11% over the next decade, according to the BLS.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Research current costs of materials, labor, equipment, and other requirements
  • Analyze cost-cutting measures and offer planning options
  • Report and present findings to clients, officials, and other stakeholders

It will take at least a bachelor's degree to get to a position as a Cost Estimator, but much of the expertise you'll need, you'll learn with experience, as you get to know the industry. However, Cost Estimators need a wide-ranging set of skills, and a graduate degree (or graduate certificate) in engineering, construction management, or a similar field will drastically improve your professional options.

Median Salary: $52,990
Education Level: Bachelor's/Master's

28. Government Accountant

The federal government – and even local and state governments – is a big entity, and massive, almost unimaginable amounts of money flow through the government. So, obviously, the government needs accountants for much more than just the IRS or Treasury departments; every agency needs accountants to keep track of budgets and spending. However, government accounting is rather specialized; fund accounting, like the government uses, focuses more on accountability than on maximizing profit or limiting liability – in other words, making sure budgets are being followed and money isn't being wasted on unapproved expenditures.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Tracking spending of government agencies and officials
  • Reconciling spending with budget allotments
  • Prepare estimates for future needs

Many university accounting programs include specializations in government accounting today, since the procedures and skills used by government accountants are increasingly specialized. A specialization in an area like forensic accounting or nonprofit accounting may also be useful.

Median Salary: $50,425
Education Level: Bachelor's

29. Spectator Sports Accounting

You may have noticed, there's quite a bit of money in professional sports. And, of course, where there is money, accountants can't (and shouldn't) be too far behind. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2017, there were more than 1000 accountants employed in the professional athletics industry, out of more than 1 million accountants the BLS surveyed. That's a tight number, and quite competitive, but a master's will be a big advantage in landing one of these positions. If you love sports, it may be worth the effort: perks include game tickets and inside access to your favorite team.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Prepare financial records and present to management
  • Prepare and file tax returns
  • Maintain and organize accounting systems and records
  • Analyze budgets and procedures to recommend improvements

You can do the job of an accountant in the sports industry with just a bachelor's degree, but look at the competition – just to distinguish yourself on the job market, you'll need an MBA, a MAcc, or another related accounting master's degree.

Median Salary: $50,340 (Fox Sports)
Education Level: Master's

30. Environmental Accountants

One of the younger specializations in accounting is the Environmental Accountant. Environmental Accountants combine expertise in accounting and finance with expertise of environmental science, public policy, and regulation. Environmental Accountants work to calculate environmental costs, including costs of compliance with environmental regulations; costs of environmental impacts on business operations or projects; and even unintended costs of commercial activity. While business has often ignored these costs in the past, or dismissed them as "overhead," many companies today are taking environmental costs seriously, putting hard, unignorable numbers on human activity.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Calculate costs of environmental compliance
  • Research costs of alternative chemicals, processes, or product designs
  • Produce and implement plans for reducing environmental costs

With such a high level of specialized knowledge necessary to do the job, Environmental Accountants will need a master's degree in accounting just to get the job interview. Specialized program in environmental accounting are becoming more widespread as demand increases.

Median Salary: $49,960
Education Level: Master's

31. Auditing Clerk

In smaller companies, the Auditor (#24 above) may do all of the work of analyzing documents and checking that financial records are on the up-and-up. But in large organizations, there may be an entire internal auditing department, and the Auditing Clerk does the nitty-gritty office work of auditing. They're the ones poring over documents, updating accounting records, verifying records posted by other workers, and checking figures and documents to ensure they are accurate and coded properly. An Auditing Clerk reports to the Auditor, who then reports to upper management.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Ensure all accounting documents are accurately prepared
  • Verify records and transactions
  • Input data into computer system
  • Complete tax forms and returns, workers' compensation forms, and pension contribution forms

An Auditing Clerk is generally defined as an entry-level position, so many workers can start their job with just a high school diploma, or an associate's degree in accounting, a bookkeeping certification, or a similar credential. It can be a good start in the industry, allowing students to earn advancement with more schooling later on.

Median Salary: $43,100
Education Level: High School Diploma/Associate's

32. Accounting Manager Trainee

While master's degree programs can give professionals knowledge of managerial theory and practice, many large organizations prefer for their managers to have some time learning on the job, the better to know how their organizational procedures and culture work. An Accounting Manager Trainee will work under the supervision of a higher-level manager or a peer, and will often have to spend time in various departments to learn about the whole structure of the organization. You'll probably be working full-time, and even putting in overtime hours, but until you've proven yourself, don't expect a managerial salary.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Practice accounting duties such as paying bills and creating invoices
  • Check entries for accuracy, make corrections, and file
  • Work in various departments such as payroll, cost accounting, accounts receivable, etc

If you're being hired as a manager trainee, you are most likely to already have a bachelor's degrees in accounting, but may not have the added expertise of a Master's in Management or MBA in accounting.

Median Salary: $41,745
Education Level: Bachelor's

33. Certified Bookkeeper

Without a good bookkeeper, how would any organization know how much money they had, or how much they were spending? Bookkeeping services are essential for the welfare of any business, whether large or small; they're the ones making all those records that the analysts and auditors and planners use. A good bookkeeper needs excellent math and computer skills; most modern-day accounting is done on computers. They must be able to pay attention to detail and feel comfortable interacting with people. Most importantly, they need a strong ethical sense; most companies will perform a criminal background check.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Keep accurate and thorough financial records
  • Use accounting information systems for data entry
  • Pay bills, record income, and track expenditures

You can get an entry-level position as a bookkeeper with just a high school diploma, an associate's degree, or a diploma or certificate in bookkeeping from a community college. However, to earn a higher salary, getting licensed as a Certified Bookkeeper provides a clear proof of your expertise.

Median Salary: $40,750
Education Level: High School Diploma/Associate's

34. Accounting Assistant

A CPA has a lot of paperwork to keep up with – a lot of paperwork. There are clients' documents and receipts, IRS forms to fill out, meetings to schedule, and all of the other tasks involved in bookkeeping and tax preparation. An Accounting Assistant is the key to making sure all that happens in an orderly, efficient fashion, and no accountant's business is going to run smoothly without a good assistant.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Sorting, verifying, and filing documents
  • Check forms for accuracy and make necessary corrections
  • Data entry
  • Basic clerical duties

Accounting Assistant is a common job for students in accounting programs, or for working accountants with an associate's degree, diploma, or certificate. It's a good way to get your foot in the door and set yourself up for a higher-level job when you complete your degree.

Median Salary: $38,950
Education: High School Diploma/Associate's

35. Accounting Clerk

In a large corporate setting, the Accounting Clerk does essentially the same job as an Accounting Assistant does for a CPA: they provide support for the accountants and managers by doing the direct work of keeping track of documents, entering data into the system, and doing clerical duties. In many cases, an Accounting Clerk's work will overlap with what might be considered a bookkeeper or an entry-level accountant.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Perform accounting and clerical functions to support accounting department
  • Keep track of bills, invoices, and payments
  • Enter data into accounting IT systems

This entry-level position will generally require at least an associate's degree or certificate program, since any corporate employer will want to see proof that you can do the basic accounting required for the job.

Median Salary: $37,180
Education: Associate's

36. Payroll Clerk

When it comes down to brass tacks, no one in a company is more important than the payroll clerk. If someone is not keeping track of workers' earnings, entering data and computing all of the withholdings, and making sure employees get paid regularly, there'd be nothing short of mutiny. Payroll is complicated, with a lot of forms, calculations, and discretion (not to mention being discreet), and the Payroll Clerk who keeps it all rolling deserves a round of drinks every payday. (Take it out of Petty Cash.)

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Compute earnings of workers, verifying hours, overtime, bonuses, etc. and check for errors
  • Initiate payroll during appropriate time and distribute payment
  • Field complaints or questions from employees
  • Handle benefits such as 401(k) contributions and payroll taxes

A clerk at a corporate or other organization should have at least an associate's degree or accounting certificate to show potential employers that they know the basics of accounting and payroll.

Median Salary: $37,100
Education Level: Associate's

37. Accounts Payable Clerk

There are a lot of expenses involved in running a large company or organization, and the Accounts Payable Clerk makes sure that all of the creditors get paid. That may mean vendors, suppliers, services, independent contractors, consultants, utilities and any number of other expenses a company takes on. Very large corporations may have a whole Accounts Payable department, with a number of clerks; smaller companies may have one person keeping track of all the bills and payments.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Compile bills owed to vendors, suppliers, etc.
  • Gather bills, and prepare payments
  • Maintains all payment and transaction records

An Accounts Payable Clerk can get an entry-level position with an associate's degree, or with a specialized diploma or certificate from a community college.

Median Salary: $36,530
Education: Associate's

38. Accounts Receivable Clerk

A big organization spends a lot of money to keep going, but it's got to make money too. That's where the Accounts Receivable Clerk comes in, making sure that the company gets paid in a timely manner. An Account Receivable Clerk needs a good grasp of bookkeeping and record keeping, but also needs strong organizational skills. They also can't be afraid to call up and ask why a payment is late.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Keep record of payments due to the company and send out invoices
  • Initiate action to be taken on late or delinquent payments
  • Maintain contact with attorneys, staff, vendors, and clients

Like other clerical positions, an Accounts Receivable Clerk will have the most success on the job market with at least an associate's degree in accounting, or a diploma or certificate in a related area.

Median Salary: $36,300
Education Level: Associate's

39. Billing Clerk

In a smaller company, Billing and Accounts Receivable may all be done in one department, but in a large enough organization, there will be so much money flowing through that separate individuals or departments will be needed to keep track. In that instance, it's the Billing Clerk (or Billing Clerks) who make sure that invoices go out to entities that owe the company money, based on the calculations of Accounts Receivable.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Prepare bills and invoices and verify billing with accounts receivable
  • Enter relevant data in billing/accounting system
  • Maintain payment records

To apply for a position as a Billing Clerk, you'll have the most job market success with at least an associate's degree in accounting, but many community colleges offer certificate programs with a specialization in accounts receivable/billing.

Median Salary: $35,910
Education Level: Associate's

40. Bookkeeping Clerk

Most big organizations will have a bookkeeping department, where Bookkeeping Clerks work under a bookkeeping manager to keep track of transactions. In a very large corporation, a Bookkeeping Clerk may only be responsible for a few accounts, or even just be assigned to one major account (for instance, one bookkeeper alone may handle transactions with a firm's biggest client). In smaller companies, on the other hand, the bookkeeping department may handle everything associated with billing, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and payroll.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Verify and enter company transactions into ledger
  • Prepare tax reports and monthly statements.
  • Track debits and credits to balance books

A Bookkeeping Clerk should definitely have an associate's degree in accounting, or a certificate in bookkeeping to make any sort of headway in the job market; certification as a bookkeeper may be helpful for career advancement.

Median Salary: $35,120
Education Level: Associate's

BONUS: Financial Advisor to the Stars!

You'll still work in the traditional areas of accounting, but you'll get to do it for famous people. As a star's personal financial advisor, you'd be involved with everything from investments (Action Comics #1, or a Picasso?) to estate planning (leave the fortune to the kids, or the dogs?) to all the random expenditures they make (tank full of pet sharks? Not sure if that's tax deductible, but let's see). And for all your hard work, you just might be invited to a movie set or premiere and walk the red carpet like one of the big people.

Be warned, it can take a few years before you reach the level where you're trusted by the entertainment elite, but if you are working for a top star, you could make as much as 5% of your client's annual salary. Just don't let them buy that castle in Scotland; that'll come back to haunt them.

Median Salary: $$$$$ (the sky's the limit – or, rather, the stars you work for)
Education Level: Varies (the stars aren't usually big on education, but their manager might be)