Accounting may seem straightforward, but it’s an industry with a lot of variety and career options. Here, we examine the different types of accounting and some of the career options within those types.
9 Types of Accounting
- Public accounting
- Private accounting
- Forensic accounting
- Financial Accounting
- Government Accounting
- Management Accounting
- Tax Accounting
- Internal Auditing
- Project Accounting
In this field, public accountants examine financial statements and accounting systems for their clients to ensure their financial statements are accurately representing financial results and the organization’s overall financial position. Generally, the career path begins with an audit staff position and progresses to earn a partner spot.
Private accounting takes an internal focus, helping a single business, which employs the accountant, to ensure the company remains compliant with government standards and the financial information is accurate. The highest position in a private accounting career is the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) spot, but careers generally begin with an entry-level general accountant role and progress through management roles.
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When financial records are not available, forensic accountants help to reconstruct financial information, often in the case of a destroyed business or fraud. Generally, forensic accountants are in a consulting role, because very few organizations need to employ a full-time forensic accountant. This career field typically begins with an auditor role, and tends to focus in insurance, law or an audit firm’s specialty practice. Government agencies like the FBI and the IRS also employ forensic accountants.
Financial accounting requires expertise in an accounting framework, usually the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) or International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) that are used to understand a company’s financial statements. Overall, financial accounting focuses on aggregating financial information into external and internal reports, ensuring reporting is compliant with applicable government regulations (for instance, the Securities and Exchange Commission for publicly held companies in the U.S.). The information financial accounts oversee can go as far as the early days of a company or organization.
Professionals in the financial accounting field can focus on external reporting with an accounting standards specialization or the controller role, which blends both financial and management accounting.
Government accounting is typically a career-long focus for professionals in this field because the skillset is so unique. Government accountants use an accounting framework to manage and create funds that disperse cash to pay for the expenses governments incur providing services. In many cases, the vetting process for a government accounting position is more rigorous because professionals are often privy to privileges or confidential information.
Management accounting involves cost accounting and target costing, ultimately focusing on gathering accounting information to develop reports that can inform business operations. Since reports are generated to help management, management accounting is not bound by the same strict accounting principles. This career track typically leads to a controller position, but can also lead to some specializations, which include payables clerk, payroll clerk, cost accountant or billing clerk.
Tax accounting emphasizes compliance with tax regulations, tax filings and tax planning, ultimately striving to reduce a company’s future tax burden. While numerous tax specialties can lead into this career path, the tax manager position is the highest in the track.
Internal auditors study the transactions and systems in a company to identify any weaknesses, cases of fraud, waste or mismanagement, and then report those findings to business leaders. Professionals begin as internal auditors and advance to become the manager of internal auditing. In some cases, specializations like information systems auditor or environmental auditor may be part of the track as well.
Project accounting is specifically concerned with project management, applying an accounting system to track a project’s financial progress by developing and reviewing financial reports. A subset of management accounting, this specialty focuses on the financial success of a company’s projects, rather than company at large. Often, project accounting can offer a competitive advantage to businesses who services are project-oriented, like a construction firm.
Career Paths for Accounting
Accountants have a wide variety of potential career paths. Now that you understand the different types of accounting, you’ll be better able to select an educational path that matches your skills, interests and career goals. Learn more about Florida Tech’s 100% online accounting degrees.