What Can You Do with an Accounting Degree?

TROY’s accounting bachelor’s degree can open the door to a variety of jobs in the accounting industry and beyond.

TROY’s accounting bachelor’s degree can open the door to a variety of jobs in the accounting industry and beyond.

An accounting degree gives you a powerful credential that opens the door to a wide variety of career paths. 

Accounting isn’t just about crunching numbers — it’s about providing insights that can help individuals and organizations drive decision-making and so much more. 

By earning an accounting bachelor’s degree you’ll also be in demand, according to Dr. Josh Allen McGowan, Associate Director of the Carr School of Accountancy at Troy University.

“The biggest challenge facing the accounting industry is a lack of talent entering the profession,” Dr. McGowan says. “The top priority for the industry is increasing the number of college students interested in the accounting major.”

While the lack of accountants is an issue for the industry, it’s a “huge positive” for accounting students, Dr. McGowan adds. Not only does it mean accounting majors will be highly sought after for jobs, but it also means starting salaries will continue to increase, he says. 

“If you have the accounting knowledge and the financial background, you can move into whatever industry you love,” Dr. McGowan says. “An accounting bachelor’s degree is a fast track to a career doing something that you have fun doing.”

Pair Your Accounting Bachelor’s Degree with Your Passion

Despite the exceptional career outcomes for those with an accounting bachelor’s degree, few dream of becoming an accountant, Dr. McGowan has observed.

“The first thing I always ask students in our beginning-level class is, ‘How many of you grew up wanting to be an accountant?’ Zero hands go up,” he says. “We all had dreams when we were little kids, whether that was to become a firefighter or professional athlete or an actor. But with your accounting knowledge, you can pair that with whatever you are passionate about, whether that’s entertainment, fashion, food, sports — whatever it is.”

He recalls a conversation with a student who wanted to go into a particular industry and thought they would have to get a specific degree. Dr. McGowan researched CFOs, CEOs and COOs in that industry and discovered they were all accounting majors who held certified public accountant (CPA) licenses. 

“That, to me, says you can go in any direction you want with the accounting bachelor’s degree,” he says. “That includes public accounting, which is a great career in itself.”

Dr. McGowan chose an accounting career because it offered both flexibility and stability. 

“There are always plenty of jobs in accounting,” he says. “It is one of the safest professions one can enter. Every industry needs individuals who understand the numbers behind a company and can make decisions based on this knowledge. This allows accounting majors to work in any industry they are passionate about.”

No Typical Day for Accountants

Matthew Anderson, who earned his accounting bachelor’s degree in 2019 and his Master of Accountancy (MAcc) in 2020 from TROY, works in public accounting as an audit supervisor for Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors in Montgomery, AL. 

“One of the things I love most about being in public accounting is I don’t necessarily have a typical day,” he says. “On a weekly basis, I’m often rotating clients and the types of engagements I’m performing. This could mean traveling out of town one week to working in the office the next to working from home the week after that. I enjoy the variety and spontaneity that working in public accounting can provide.”

Dr. McGowan says one of the misconceptions about accounting is that you’ll be stuck behind a desk. Nothing could be further from the truth, he says.

“If you don’t want to be behind a desk, there are plenty of jobs in accounting that let you get out there and meet people and all the great things that come with that.”

What Jobs Can You Get with an Accounting Degree?

While a bachelor’s in accounting degree can give you the technical skills to excel, bringing determination, perseverance and critical-thinking skills to the profession will “turn you into a superstar within the industry,” Dr. McGowan maintains. 

The ability to communicate and share your knowledge with those who do not have an accounting background is also “extremely valuable,” he adds. 

But what jobs can you get with an accounting degree? Here are some of the most common:

  • Accountant: You’ll analyze, audit and report on financial accounts. 
  • Bookkeeper: You’ll record, maintain and reconcile businesses’ financial data.
  • Financial advisor: You’ll give guidance to help clients set and meet financial goals.
  • Auditor: You’ll review and verify the accuracy of financial records to ensure compliance. 
  • Forensic accountant: You’ll examine records for fraud and other financial crimes. 
  • Accounting manager: You’ll oversee and manage an organization’s accounting functions and financial reporting. 

Matthew Anderson says TROY does a good job of answering, “What jobs can you get with an accounting degree?” with actions — not words.

“The main thing that sets TROY apart is how career-focused the program and professors are from the very beginning,” Anderson says. “The program is set up to where students can take part in an internship during the spring of their senior year, and the professors do everything they can to assist students in obtaining internship offers and even full-time offers once they graduate. The program consistently holds recruiting events, giving students the opportunity to meet face-to-face with industry professionals.”

TROY works hard to involve students in the accounting profession well before they graduate, Dr. McGowan explains. The goal isn’t just to acquaint them with the profession but to have them put soft skills, like communication, to work. 

Accounting firms talk with students on a monthly basis and accounting professionals are invited to talk with accounting majors at least three times a year, he adds. In September, TROY also hosts Accountancy Day where students get dressed in professional attire and meet with representatives from at least 35 different accounting firms. 

TROY students can also count on being mentored and guided by their accounting professors — during the accounting program and well into their future career. Finding those mentors in the professional world is also important, he adds. 

“There is no such thing as being self-made,” Dr. McGowan says. “Every successful person has had help and mentorship along the way. Never be afraid to ask for an opportunity or promotion. Asking for what you want is one of the first steps in achieving it.”

How Much Does an Accountant Make with a Bachelor’s Degree?

By meeting with representatives from accounting firms, students learn a lot about the field, including how lucrative the accounting profession can be. But how much does an accountant make with a bachelor’s degree? 

In May 2021, the median pay for accountants and auditors with an accounting bachelor’s degree was $77,250 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow 6% through 2031, the BLS reports. 

By meeting face-to-face with accounting executives on campus, TROY accounting majors see what’s possible for their future, Dr. McGowan says.

“You can have a lot of early career success in accounting,” he says. “We have people who graduated five to 15 years ago that have already made partner at massive firms, or they’re already a CFO for a huge company, and they’re making a lot of money. Students see that they could be that successful in five years — all they have to do is follow the blueprint that’s already been laid at TROY.”

One part of that blueprint is internships, he adds. Students can participate in paid internships in their junior and senior years.

“We would never just hand somebody their diploma and say, ‘Good luck,’” Dr. McGowan says. “We are constantly working to get our students jobs. We make them a promise: If you make good grades and get involved, you’ll have a full-time job waiting because of the Carr School of Accountancy’s connections and reputation, which is based on the incredible success of our alumni. When we call a firm and say, ‘Hey, we have a student for you,’ that student gets a job offer. People want TROY accountants, which is pretty awesome.”

Getting Involved is Key to Success in Accounting Careers

As an alumnus, Anderson says students pursuing an accounting bachelor’s degree can benefit most from getting involved at TROY.

“I would encourage them to participate in as many out-of-classroom activities as possible,” he says. “These events give students opportunities to develop their professional skills and enhance their understanding of the field.”

Anderson says he’s glad he chose TROY for his accounting bachelor’s degree and his M.Acc. because of the relationships he could create through TROY’s smaller class sizes.

“I got to know just about everyone who graduated with an accounting degree the same year I did,” he says. “This has given me a wide range of professional connections — and I even work with a good number of my fellow classmates now.”

TROY’s accounting program has a reputation in the region for excellence, Dr. McGowan notes. The Sorrell College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), a distinction held by fewer than 5% of business schools worldwide. The accounting program also received separate AACSB accreditation, a distinction achieved by only about 200 business schools worldwide. 

Another strength of TROY’s accounting program: its strong alumni base. Dr. McGowan is part of that network, having earned his accounting bachelor’s degree in 2015 and his M.Acc. in 2016 at TROY. He also holds a Doctor of Business Administration from Creighton University. Dr. McGowan worked as a bookkeeper/accountant, an auditor and a CFO before returning to TROY as a lecturer in 2018. 

“It was a dream come true,” he says. “It’s a great group of people to work with.”

Dr. McGowan has one more misconception he wants to change about accounting: You don’t have to be extraordinary in math to earn an accounting bachelor’s degree.

“Thinking you have to be good at math scares some people away from accounting as a career,” Dr. McGowan says. “If you can use a calculator, you’re good to go.”

By choosing an accounting career, Dr. McGowan says, “you have chosen a wonderful profession that will allow you to grow in unimaginable heights.

“Always be open to new opportunities and approach every day with a positive mindset,” he advises. “The greatest aspect of the accounting industry is it will allow you to accomplish your goals, whatever they may be.”

Learn More About TROY’s Accounting Bachelor’s DegreeWhat can you do with an accounting degree? Explore TROY’s accounting bachelor’s degree to learn how it can prepare you for a high-paying and rewarding career.

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