degree-of-interest: Bachelors in Accounting

Beyond the Balance Sheet: Exploring Career Opportunities in Accounting

Man sitting at desk working on daily accounting duties.

Initially, it may seem like the day in life of an accountant is fairly straightforward. An accounting degree will prepare you for entry-level positions in the field, with many students assuming that they will take on traditional accounting roles after graduation. However, there are a surprising number of alternative career paths to consider, giving you the ability to specialize in the field and carve out your own niche.

Traditional Accounting Roles

So, what do accountants do? The simplest answer: a lot. Given their specialized skill set and advanced understanding of accounting principles, techniques and strategies, accountants are in high demand across all industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are currently more than 1.5 million accountants in the United States, and the field is expected to grow by four percent between 2022 and 2032.

Some of the traditional accounting roles that graduates may pursue include:

  • AuditorAuditors are financial specialists primarily responsible for examining and evaluating financial documents to ensure that they are accurate. These professionals are often responsible for verifying that organizations are following legal guidelines and financial regulations. They also may prepare taxes for an organization or provide insight into how an organization can better streamline their financial operations.
  • Tax Accountant Tax accountants are specialized accountants who work primarily with individuals and organizations to prepare their tax documents. They may be responsible for examining financial statements, organizing related financial records, inspecting accounting systems and practices and compiling/computing taxes.
  • Financial AnalystFinancial analysts are professionals who provide organizations and individuals with advice and guidance on their financial decisions to maximize returns or profits. They are responsible for evaluating financial data, monitoring current financial trends and making investment recommendations for their clients so that they can expand their portfolios.

Beyond the Balance Sheet: Alternative Career Paths

While many accounting graduates pursue traditional career paths, it’s important to know that there are many other job opportunities to consider. Have you ever asked yourself, “What jobs can you get with an accounting degree?” You may be surprised by some of these alternative career paths:

  • Forensic Accountant — Forensic accountants specialize in investigative accounting techniques, often working to examine the financial status of an organization.
  • Management Accountant — Management accountants often work to forecast and predict financial trends to guide organizational leadership as they make investment decisions for the company.
  • Consultant or Advisory Roles — Accounting consultants or advisors work with individuals or organizations to guide them as they make decisions related to their financial management.

A Day in the Life of an Accountant: Exploring Alternative Career Paths

Throughout your accounting degree program, you should take time to explore the various careers in accounting and learn more about what daily life is like in those particular roles. This will help you specialize your skill set and embark on a rewarding and fulfilling career path.

Day in the Life of a Forensic Accountant

Forensic accountants are Certified Public Accountants who specialize in investigative accounting techniques to examine the financial records of a business or organization. These professionals are often looking for indications of embezzlement or fraud, and they are commonly employed by insurance agencies, law enforcement agencies and financial organizations. Primarily, forensic accountants work in an office setting, but depending on their current case, they may be required to go to specified locations to conduct their investigation. Sometimes, forensic accountants are required to appear in court as part of litigation. No two days are alike in the life of a forensic accountant, making this one of the more exciting and dynamic accounting career paths.

Day in the Life of a Management Accountant

A management accountant is a specialized accounting professional responsible for many of the traditional tasks of an accountant, such as maintaining financial records for an organization, while also taking on the managerial roles of a financial analyst. Management accountants set themselves apart from their traditional accounting counterparts because they are also responsible for collecting and preparing data for an organization to use as part of their overall financial management strategy. Generally, management accountants work in an office setting, and they are commonly employed by government agencies, public companies and private organizations.

Day in the Life of an Accounting Consultant

Accounting consultants are experienced accountants who have moved beyond the traditional accounting role to provide individual clients as well as organizations with advice about their accounting techniques and practices. Accounting consultants do not maintain financial records for their clients, but rather, they work to analyze financial data and trends to provide their clients with actionable advice. They often make recommendations that will help their clients prepare for future expenditures, increase profits and maintain compliance. Compared to other traditional accounting career paths and even alternative accounting roles, the accounting consultant position is incredibly flexible. Many accounting consultants are self-employed individuals who take on a client caseload that they can manage, giving them the freedom to set their own schedule and professional parameters.

Advantages and Challenges of Alternative Career Paths

By opting to pursue one of the alternative careers in accounting, you will find that there are both advantages and challenges along the way. These are some of the advantages and challenges to consider as you work toward earning your bachelor’s degree in accounting:


  1. Diverse experiences and skill development — Alternate careers in accounting allow you to expand your skill set and acquire professional experience that will set you apart from other accountants in the field. Many accountants find these alternative career paths to be more interesting, ultimately allowing them to enjoy more fulfilling and rewarding work daily.
  2. Opportunities for growth and advancement — Within these niche accounting positions, there may be more room for growth and advancement in your career. Given the specialized nature of these careers in accounting, there are fewer qualified candidates in the job market. This allows you to enjoy a unique competitive advantage as you seek to further your career.
  3. Increased job satisfaction — By combining your accounting expertise with your personal interests, you will be able to carve out a career path that offers increased job satisfaction over time. Many professionals who opt for alternative and specialized careers in accounting find that they enjoy going to work each day.


  1. Need for continuous learning and adaptation — While many graduates can pursue these alternate careers in accounting by earning a bachelor’s degree, you also may have to work toward earning specialized certification programs to be qualified or maintain your position. These career pathways are particularly reliant on technology, which will increase the need for continuous learning and adaptation over time. Professional development is crucial in the accounting field, particularly for those who pursue alternate positions, such as forensic accounting or management accounting.
  2. Work-life balance considerations — For the most part, accountants work during business hours, but within specialized fields, there may be exceptional circumstances that require you to travel or work outside normal operating hours. With any career, it’s important that you take the time to consider work-life balance and determine whether it fits your own needs and expectations. Being able to effectively balance your accounting career with your personal life is key to your overall satisfaction with your role and career pathway.
  3. Navigating uncertainties in emerging fields — The digital revolution is continuing to take shape, and it will undoubtedly have an impact on the accounting field. While it can be challenging to navigate these uncertainties, accountants who have earned their degree and worked to specialize in the field will find that their skills and experience are often in high demand.

What Do Accountants Do? Learn More About Careers in Accounting at Carson-Newman University

Curious about the diverse career opportunities beyond the balance sheet? Explore the exciting world of accounting with Carson-Newman University’s bachelor’s in accounting program. Discover how our comprehensive curriculum prepares you for traditional roles and opens doors to alternative paths, ensuring that you’re equipped to excel in any accounting career you choose. Take the first step toward a dynamic and fulfilling future in accounting today!

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