Accounting

 

Quick Facts

2014 Median Salary
$58,000

69% of accountancy students pursue a master’s degree, primarily the Master of Accounting Science (MAS).

2014 Top Hiring Employers
Deloitte
KPMG
PricewaterhouseCoopers
Ernst & Young
Plante Moran

full list

 

What do Accounting majors do?

Accountants prepare, develop, analyze, evaluate, and verify financial documents. They disseminate information that their clients need to ensure that their businesses are run efficiently and that they comply with the terms of their contracts. The typical view of the accountant as the “bean counter” has changed and accounting has become more consulting-oriented.

What kinds of jobs do Accounting majors get?

Career options for Accounting majors are diverse and varied, but most College of Business graduates typically start in one of three paths.

Public AccountingPrivate AccountingConsulting

In 2014, 39% of Accountancy undergraduates started their careers in Public Accounting with an average starting salary of $56,593.

Public accounting firms range in size from local (Martin Hood Friese; Sikich; Frost, Ruthenberg & Rothblatt) and regional firms (BDO, Crowe Horwath, Grant Thornton, McGladrey, Plante Moran) to large international firms (Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers).

Public accounting firms provide accounting services to clients who are businesses (automotive, entertainment, healthcare, technology, retailers, manufacturers, individuals), non-profits, and government agencies. Primary services include:

Audit/Assurance: preparing and reviewing financial information
Examine and verify financial records to ensure that they are accurate and in compliance with federal laws. Audit/assurance accountants ensure the integrity of financial information while identifying key business issues affecting those results. Audit/assurance accountants ask questions, test assumptions, and evaluate whether companies are reporting information that investors and others can rely on.

Sample Audit Full-Time Posting

Assurance & Advisory Business Services Staff with Ernst & Young

Our audit teams examine and attest to a company's financial statements, and test the controls over the accuracy and security of its financial information. This provides assurance to the people who rely on this information, including the company's owners and/or shareholders, its management and board, regulators, employees, business partners, and other interested parties. Through our audit process, our teams delve deep into our clients' businesses and come to understand their performance strengths and vulnerabilities. As a result, we can provide our clients with insights on improving their businesses.

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Sample Audit Internship Posting

Deloitte Audit Internship

Perform audit services including auditing financial statements, including reviews of quarterly financial information. In conducting an external audit of clients’ financial statements, the Deloitte & Touche approach is to understand a client’s business, the risks it faces, its internal controls, and assess the risk of inaccurate financial information in order to create effective audit procedures. Deloitte & Touche integrates the audit of internal control over financial reporting with the audit of the financial statements. Responsibilities include gathering information and reviewing financial documents; analyzing client accounting procedures; identify accounting issues; and performing research to solve issues that arise; and providing recommendations for improved business efficiency.

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Tax: preparation of income tax returns

Because tax laws are always changing, businesses must constantly regulate and monitor tax planning, compliance, and tax credit for all types of businesses (corporations, automotive, technology, retailers, manufacturers), nonprofits, and government agencies. Companies must consider business tax, indirect tax, international tax, transactional tax, and company employee tax-related issues.

Sample Tax Full-Time Posting

Tax Associate with PricewaterhouseCoopers

At PwC Tax, you’ll begin building your career with broad‐based client experiences that will help lay the foundation for you to become a credentialed professional. As your career progresses toward Manager‐level, you will develop specialized skills and experiences in a particular tax area, whether it’s federal, state and local, international, transfer pricing, or mergers and acquisitions. Become part of PwC Tax and help us assist our corporate clients with their tax planning and compliance issues, locally and globally. Help us analyze and interpret tax policy. Help us advise high net worth individuals on how to grow and preserve their wealth.

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Sample Tax Internship Posting

Crowe Horwath Tax Intern

Participate in the examination, review, and compilation of financial statements; prepare and review tax returns; consult with management of businesses; report on internal financial controls; and assist with special reviews relating to acquisitions, mergers, and sale of businesses. Interns will have the opportunity to work as a team member on diverse client engagements to include manufacturing, not-for-profit, government, healthcare, education, construction, dealerships, food and agriculture, and financial institution clients.

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Advisory/Consulting: advising clients on business decisions such as mergers and acquisitions, decreasing risks, increasing profit or efficiencies

Because today’s business environment is continuously changing, companies need to constantly create new strategies and make better business decisions. Advisory services in public accounting firms help clients improve their performance and manage their risks more effectively. When decisions are made to, for example, improve finances, manage customers more efficiently, acquire other businesses, explore international offices, companies must pay attention to accounting regulations, their costs, and financial reporting. Advisory services include working with specific industries or specific areas of a particular business.

Advisory roles can further specialize in the areas of forensics and transactions.Forensic accountants deal with business disputes or litigation. They investigate financial evidence in areas relating to crime, money laundering, bankruptcy, fraud, and data management.

In Transaction, you work with clients to help them make better and more informed decisions about how to strategically manage capital and transactions in a changing world.

Sample Advisory Full-Time Posting

Enterprise Risk Services (ERS) Consultant with Deloitte

Within Deloitte, our Control Assurance practice identifies, develops, and tests internal control policies and procedures within business process and information technology environments. These services may be provided as part of an internal audit or audit of financial statements, or as individual projects resulting from major organizational changes, implementation of new technologies, or reliance on third party service providers. In addition, we provide assurance in connection with custom system development projects and applications requiring the testing of data quality and integrity.

Companies face an increasing variety of internal control requirements today, including those associated with Sarbanes-Oxley, as well as other industry and control requirements. Our Control Assurance practice works with organizations to effectively leverage controls to meet requirements and to benefit the business.

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Sample Advisory Internship Posting

Baker Tilly Staff Consultant Internship

As a new consultant, you will play an integral role on our project teams and assist our clients in designing and implementing solutions to meet their unique business needs. Typical responsibilities may include: Developing close working relationships with client executives; Defining, documenting, and improving business processes; Providing project management support to senior consultants; Conducting financial and data analysis; Researching industry and functional trends.

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Sample Forensic Internship Posting

KPMG Forensic Summer Internship

KPMG’s Advisory Services Practice focuses on fundamental business issues — managing risk, increasing revenues, controlling costs — that organizations, across various industries, should address in order to help them flourish. We provide them with the information needed to help them meet their strategic and financial goals and assist organizations in their efforts to achieve the highest level of business integrity through the detection, prevention and investigation of fraud and misconduct. Our Forensic professionals strive to not only help our clients discover the facts underlying concerns about fraud and misconduct, but also assist clients in assessing their vulnerabilities to such activities, and in developing controls and programs to address these risks.

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Sample Transaction Internship Posting

PricewaterhouseCoopers Transaction Summer Internship

PwC’s Transaction Services professionals help companies make informed and empowered investment and reorganization decisions. We assist clients with mergers and acquisitions, accounting, financial reporting, and capital raising on both the buy and sell side of a deal. Our deal professionals help clients understand the risks in transactions, so they can be confident they are making informed strategic decisions.

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In 2014, 18% of Accountancy undergraduates started their careers in Private Accounting with an average starting salary of $55,222. Private accountants work directly for a company or organization.

Corporate Accounting

Depending on size, any company can have anywhere from one or two staff accountants, to an entire accounting department. These departments prepare financial information (both tax and audit) for public accountants, track company performance for internal evaluation, and work with management on issues related to acquisitions, international transactions, and any other operational issues.

Corporate accountants audit the accuracy of a company’s records, the overall effectiveness of operations in a given organizational unit. Some corporate accountants perform financial statement preparation and analysis, product costing, inventory accounting or budgeting and forecasting. Other private and corporate accountants can work in payroll, accounts payable, revenue accounting, financial reporting, audit, or process improvement group. These accountants can be responsible for thousands, even millions of dollars.

Sample Corporate Accounting Posting

John Deere Corporate Accounting Forecasting Internship

At John Deere Power Systems our Accountant will prepare monthly and annual financial forecasts and financial statements. You will coordinate, compile, and reconcile the monthly, annual and five year capital budget plans. In addition, you will have the opportunity to: Prepare monthly and annual actual vs. forecast comparisons; Prepare monthly and annual overhead budgets; Prepare various daily, monthly, quarterly, or annual financial/cost reports; Gather, review, and analyze statistical information; Review documents prepared by others; examine accounting information contained in reports and exhibits; perform complex account reconciliation.

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Sample Corporate Accounting Posting

Abbott Accounting Summer Internship

Ideal candidates will combine technical and business knowledge with analytical strength and creative problem solving abilities. Abbott’s worldwide business offers these interns an opportunity to work in a variety of fields, including: Financial Analysis, Budgeting & Forecasting, and Reporting & Controls. The diverse assignments cover areas in: corporate and division headquarters, manufacturing plants and other operating environments at various sites in the US but also around the world.[_/su_spoiler]

Sample Corporate Accounting Posting

State Farm Analyst Internship

Analyzes trends and statistical information, develops reports, and provides recommendations for improving workflow efficiencies and effectiveness within assigned areas. Performs audits/surveys, analyzes, evaluates trends and statistical designs, and implements projects and/or solutions to meet department and company business needs. Designs, distributes, analyzes, and provides reports on customer satisfaction surveys and results.

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Government Accounting

Government accountants can work at the federal, state, or local level. Many government organizations have large accounting departments to analyze the performance and allocation of their funds. Accountants at the IRS typically review individual and corporate tax returns and offer guidance when new laws are passed. The SEC hires experienced accountants to evaluate filings made by public companies to ensure that the companies are complying with SEC regulations. In addition to these agencies, accountants can find great jobs in many other government agencies. At the federal level, for example, accountants can work for the FBI, the CIA, NASA, the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Departments of Defense, Energy, and Agriculture.

Sample Government Accounting Posting

Office of Auditor General – Government Accountant

With offices in Springfield and Chicago, we review agencies' financial records, compliance with State and federal law, and program performance. We report our findings and recommendations directly to the General Assembly and Governor. In this field of auditing, your creativity and insight are encouraged.

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Sample Government Accounting Posting

Central Intelligence Agency – Accountant

The CIA Office of Inspector General has openings for Auditors to conduct performance, financial statement, financial-related, and information systems audits of CIA programs and activities.

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Nonprofit Accounting

Nonprofit organizations are found throughout the country and the world, and they have a strong need for accounting professionals. Accounting for nonprofits is very similar to for-profit accounting; they both follow generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and sometimes International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). In addition to understanding GAAP and IFRS, nonprofit accountants must understand the Financial Accounting Standards Board standards written specifically for these organizations as well as the tax regulations specific to those organizations. (For example, nonprofit organizations are typically exempt from federal taxation.) The accounting departments in these organizations are typically smaller than those in for-profit companies, so an employee may be responsible for more than one area of accounting (e.g., both financial statements and tax issues).

Sample Nonprofit Accounting Posting

National Futures Association Staff Auditor

A Staff Auditor’s main responsibility is to support NFA's regulatory programs through audits, investigations and financial surveillance of NFA Members. Common duties include on-site examinations of a Member’s books and records and analyzing its business and financial operations to ensure compliance with NFA’s requirements. A Staff Auditor also reviews and investigates customer complaints to determine whether a Member has violated any rules and gather evidence for possible disciplinary cases. A Staff Auditor interacts with the investing public, as well as, senior staff and officers at NFA Member firms.

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In 2014, 20% of Accountancy undergraduates started their careers in Consulting with an average starting salary of $63,676.

Many public accounting firms offer consulting services, helping clients review particular business needs; restructure their financial reporting, organizational hierarchy, expenses, risk, evaluation and analysis of information; make recommendations; and implement changes in any area of a business. Many accounting consultants specialize in a certain industry or clientele. Accounting consultants are quick problem solvers, creative thinkers, very fast learners, and have honed math and analytical skills. Intern duties include helping clients get the best deals done at the appropriate price, negotiating terms of a deal, implementing or changing new technologies necessary to run the business, reducing risk and enabling smooth post-deal integration.

Technology/Information Technology (IT) Consulting

Consultants may advise companies on how best to make a certain decision regarding technology currently being used in an organization, introducing, or implementing changes to technology utilized in an organization. Consultants may find alternatives to these decisions, drawbacks, potential roadblocks, and estimated profit generated from these changes. Specific client industries include: education, law, banking institutions, technology, automotive, manufacturing, retail, oil & gas, entertainment, telecommunications.

Sample IT Consulting Posting

Accenture - Analyst

Our systems integration professionals draw on deep technology skills, functional experience and industry knowledge to design and deliver IT systems that create value and support clients’ business goals. Responsibilities include: Working on complex systems and application integration projects for clients across industries; Developing a broad set of technology skills in specific programs and software; Collaborating with project teams made up of people with diverse and complementary skills. Your daily responsibilities will vary by project, but you may find yourself: Analyzing and documenting current business processes and technologies; Designing and testing new business processes, capabilities, and technologies; Developing communications and training materials; Focusing on program management.

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Risk Consulting

These consultants work with clients to review, document, evaluate and test controls. Areas of work include: Litigation, Information Technology Effectiveness and Control, Restructuring and Investigative Services, and Cost and Working Capital Optimization. Oftentimes these accountants focus on a specialized industry or field.

Sample Risk Posting

Protiviti Summer Risk Internship

Process Interns work in dynamic, team-oriented environments where they define internal business process issues, compile information and analyze data in order to present solutions to our clients. Protiviti works with audit executives, management and audit committees to assist them with their internal audit activities. We help CFOs strengthen their finance functions through improved financial and reporting processes. Our project teams also help clients manage regulatory compliance, as well as credit, market and operational risk.

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Forensic Consulting

Forensic consultants help clients prevent, confront and remediate regulatory, legal and commercial challenges as a result of unplanned events.

Sample Forensic Consulting Posting

FTI Consulting Forensic Summer Internship

The Forensic and Litigation Consulting (FLC) practice helps organizations anticipate, illuminate and overcome complex challenges for the short- and long-term benefit of their business. Primary Duties: Identify, research, and organize information to assess the sufficiency of available data to facilitate effective analysis; Apply business, accounting, finance, and analytical skills to various client situations and practice disciplines including, but not limited to, reviewing and analyzing financial statements and projections, assessing business plans, financial modeling, accounting treatment in financial statements to determine appropriateness under generally accepted accounting principles, reviewing and understanding ratio and comparable company analysis, and creating work product that is flexible, understandable, and usable by others; Analyze and interpret historical financial, operational, and transactional data; Investigate and critique analyses of experts, consultants, and attorneys; Participate in investigations by interviewing subjects, analyzing information, and summarizing observations; Assist with preparation of reports, written analyses, presentations, quantitative exhibits, and other client deliverables regarding project scope and/or results of work performed.

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How do I get a job in Accounting?

Landing a great internship and full-time job in accounting is a process and preparation begins from your very first semester as a College of Business student. Your first step is to plan ahead using the charts below. Then you want to make sure you are proactively preparing yourself to secure an internship on your way to your future career.

Your path will depend on whether you choose to graduate in 4 or 5 years, do a summer or winter internship, pursue the MAS degree, and study abroad. Everyone's college experience is different, but here are the most common sequences Accountancy majors follow.

5-year Track4-year TrackTransfers (5-year track)Transfers (4-year track)
With Summer Internship With Winter Internship
1st Semester Apply for BCS Job Shadow
Begin completing internship checklist
2nd Semester
Summer
3rd Semester Apply for second BCS Job Shadow
4th Semester Apply for Leadership Program at public accounting firm
Summer Leadership Program (if selected)
5th Semester Apply for Leadership Program at public accounting firm
6th Semester Apply for winter internship
Summer Leadership Program (if selected)
7th Semester Apply for summer internship
8th Semester Winter internship
Graduate with Bachelors in Accountancy
Summer Summer internship Classes (if needed)
9th Semester Apply for full-time position (if not secured yet)
Study for CPA (if applicable)
10th Semester Apply for full-time position (if not secured yet)
Study for CPA (if applicable)
Graduate with MAS

Here is some additional information to consider as you plan your job search:

  • Your priority should be getting an internship. Public Accounting internships are generally designed for students who will return to campus for one or two semesters of classes before graduating with their final degree, i.e. MAS
  • Winter internships (done in the spring semester) in public accounting firms offer prime experience due to ‘busy season’ activity levels
  • The Department of Accountancy offers summer classes; students can be off-campus interning during spring semester and graduate on schedule
  • Recruiting for spring semester internships takes place one year in advance, e.g. in Spring 2015 for internships starting January 2016
  • Recruiting for Summer internships takes place during the preceding Fall semester, e.g. Fall 2015 for internships starting in May/June 2016
  • Employers give their interns first consideration for full-time positions with the firm
With Summer Internship With Winter Internship
1st Semester Apply for BCS Job Shadow
Begin completing internship checklist
2nd Semester Apply for Leadership Program at public accounting firm
Summer Leadership Program (if selected)
3rd Semester Apply for second BCS Job Shadow
4th Semester Apply for Leadership Program at public accounting firm Apply for winter internship
Summer Leadership Program (if selected)
or summer classes
5th Semester Apply for summer internship
6th Semester Apply for summer internship Winter internship
Graduate with Bachelors in Accountancy (if pursuing MAS)
Summer Summer internship Classes (if needed)
7th Semester Apply for full-time position (if not secured yet)
Study for CPA (if applicable)
8th Semester Apply for full-time position (if not secured yet)
Study for CPA (if applicable)
Graduate with Bachelors in Accountancy (or MAS)

Here is some additional information to consider as you plan your job search:

  • Your priority should be getting an internship. Public Accounting internships are generally designed for students who will return to campus for one or two semesters of classes before graduating with their final degree, i.e. MAS
  • Winter internships (done in the spring semester) in public accounting firms offer prime experience due to ‘busy season’ activity levels
  • The Department of Accountancy offers summer classes; students can be off-campus interning during spring semester and graduate on schedule
  • Recruiting for spring semester internships takes place one year in advance, e.g. in Spring 2015 for internships starting January 2016
  • Recruiting for Summer internships takes place during the preceding Fall semester, e.g. Fall 2015 for internships starting in May/June 2016
  • Employers give their interns first consideration for full-time positions with the firm
With Summer Internship With Winter Internship
3rd Semester Apply for BCS Job Shadow
Begin completing internship checklist
4th Semester Apply for Leadership Program at public accounting firm
Summer Leadership Program (if selected)
5th Semester
(Start here if you are a
3rd-year transfer)
Apply for Leadership Program at public accounting firm
6th Semester Apply for winter internship
Summer Leadership Program (if selected)
7th Semester Apply for summer internship
8th Semester Winter internship
Graduate with Bachelors in Accountancy
Summer Summer internship Classes (if needed)
9th Semester Apply for full-time position (if not secured yet)
Study for CPA (if applicable)
10th Semester Apply for full-time position (if not secured yet)
Study for CPA (if applicable)
Graduate with MAS

Here is some additional information to consider as you plan your job search:

  • Your priority should be getting an internship. Public Accounting internships are generally designed for students who will return to campus for one or two semesters of classes before graduating with their final degree, i.e. MAS
  • Winter internships (done in the spring semester) in public accounting firms offer prime experience due to ‘busy season’ activity levels
  • The Department of Accountancy offers summer classes; students can be off-campus interning during spring semester and graduate on schedule
  • Recruiting for spring semester internships takes place one year in advance, e.g. in Spring 2015 for internships starting January 2016
  • Recruiting for Summer internships takes place during the preceding Fall semester, e.g. Fall 2015 for internships starting in May/June 2016
  • Employers give their interns first consideration for full-time positions with the firm
With Summer Internship With Winter Internship
3rd Semester Apply for BCS Job Shadow
Begin completing internship checklist
4th Semester Apply for Leadership Program
at public accounting firm
Apply for winter internship
Summer Leadership Program (if selected)
or summer classes
5th Semester
(Start here if you are a
3rd-year transfer)
Apply for summer internship
6th Semester Apply for summer internship Winter internship
Graduate with Bachelors in Accountancy (if pursuing MAS)
Summer Summer internship Classes (if needed)
7th Semester Apply for full-time position (if not secured yet)
Study for CPA (if applicable)
8th Semester Apply for full-time position (if not secured yet)
Study for CPA (if applicable)
Graduate with Bachelors in Accountancy (or MAS)

Here is some additional information to consider as you plan your job search:

  • Your priority should be getting an internship. Public Accounting internships are generally designed for students who will return to campus for one or two semesters of classes before graduating with their final degree, i.e. MAS
  • Winter internships (done in the spring semester) in public accounting firms offer prime experience due to ‘busy season’ activity levels
  • The Department of Accountancy offers summer classes; students can be off-campus interning during spring semester and graduate on schedule
  • Recruiting for spring semester internships takes place one year in advance, e.g. in Spring 2015 for internships starting January 2016
  • Recruiting for Summer internships takes place during the preceding Fall semester, e.g. Fall 2015 for internships starting in May/June 2016
  • Employers give their interns first consideration for full-time positions with the firm