As you build your career in accounting, you might decide to specialize in a particular area of expertise. Choosing a specialty can make you more valuable to your employer, especially if you choose to obtain certifications in your area of focus.
According to the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA), there are so many major areas of specialization in the Accounting field that new accountants sometimes feel overwhelmed. We’ve highlighted some of the most common specializations – let’s take a look.
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Information Management and Technology Assurance
Specialists in information management and technology assurance focus on the intersection of computers and finance. They typically work for organizations like accounting firms, government agencies, or consulting firms, ensuring that their organization’s accounting information systems are accurate.
To land a job in this in-demand industry, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in Accounting, Accounting information systems, or business. To become even more qualified, you could obtain a master’s degree and certifications like the Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) or Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) credentials.
Accountants with the CISA credential earn an average salary of $112,931, according to the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), making it one of the highest-paying credentials one can earn in the information technology.
Forensics and Valuation
Forensic accountants often work as financial investigators, specializing in financial crimes like fraud or bankruptcy. This is a great career for people who love solving, because this field combines expertise in both accounting and criminal justice.
A forensic accountant usually needs at least a bachelor’s degree in Accounting, as well as a year of experience in the field, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). Experience or education in law or criminal justice are also helpful.
Most forensic accountants obtain their CPA, and they often qualify for credentials like AICPA’s Certification in Financial Forensics (CFF) or ACFE’s Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE).
The ACFE reports that forensic accountants who hold the CFE credential earn a median annual salary of $104,500, which is 31 percent more than their un-credentialed counterparts earn!
Personal Finance Planning
Personal finance planners or advisors work directly with clients to help them achieve their financial goals. If you want a job that allows you to develop expertise in investment, real estate, retirement planning, and taxes, this could be a great specialty for you.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that this field will see demand increase by 14 percent over the next decade. The salary’s not too shabby, either – the median annual pay for personal financial advisors was $90,530 in 2016.
A typical personal financial advisor has a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. As in other specializations, your job prospects will only improve with more education and additional certifications. To get the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification, for example, you’ll need at least three years of work experience in addition to your bachelor’s degree.
Tax accountants may help individuals prepare their personal or household tax documents. They can also work in the business world as in-house accountants, or for accounting firms that work with many different clients.
This specialization sometimes gets a bad rap. That’s because tax accountancy requires thorough knowledge of government regulations and familiarity with lots of specific forms – not to mention working long, grueling hours during tax season!
But tax accounting is a great career if you want a stable and lucrative career that will keep you learning new things year after year. And yeah, tax season can be a grind, but it’s over in plenty of time for your summer vacation.
With a few years of experience, accountants who specialize in taxes earn a median salary of $69,000 per year. With more education and experience, you could move into a management role and earn a typical annual salary of $105,000.