Career Spotlight: Corporate CPA

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Corporate certified public accountants (CPAs) ensure businesses uphold their financial policies, evaluate expenditures, establish budgets, recommend financial actions and analyze data to help companies remain financially solvent.

Working as a CPA also involves making sure businesses follow the applicable tax laws and regulations and helping executives make the best financial decisions. Corporate CPAs have an opportunity to focus on an area of specialization, such as manufacturing, technology or government.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) said corporate accounting provides vital information for decision-makers about financial activities.

“Accounting is often called the ‘language of business’ because it deals with interpreting and communicating information about a company’s operations and finances,” the AICPA, the national professional organization of CPAs, said. “Accounting is extremely important to any company because the financial information, as interpreted by CPAs, allows executives to make informed business decisions that help those companies become more successful.”

An accountancy career provides a wide range of opportunities to work for both large and small corporations to assist in their financial solvency. Since the job outlook is expected to grow faster than the average in the United States, anyone seeking a corporate accounting career should earn an advanced degree, including a master’s in accountancy (M.Acc.) online.


Corporate Accountant Job Description

Accounting is vital to any company because it links the past to the future, the AICPA said. It provides information regarding historical and recent financial activities, allowing proper financial forecasting.

“Economic events are measured and described by accounting. Everyone works with and uses accounting ideas, whether they’re managing a business, investing money, or just deciding how to spend their paycheck,” the organization said.

The AICPA said there are many opportunities for anyone seeking employment in corporate accounting, from mom-and-pop businesses to Fortune 500 industries. Some of the more popular options in both staff and senior levels include:

  • Financial Accounting

Accountants who work in financial accounting and reporting keep track of a company’s financial records, including accounts payable and receiving, payroll, and financial statements. They use standardized guidelines to track, summarize and present financial reports to company leaders.

  • Management Accounting

CPAs in management accounting are responsible for the overall accounting systems within companies, including performing cost analyses and report preparation. They are often assigned specialized cost studies.

  • Tax Accounting

Tax CPAs work with local, state and federal income taxes; sales taxes; corporate taxes; property taxes; and payroll taxes. On the senior level (with six or more years of job experience), tax accountants may also review the impact of tax laws, determine accounting alternatives and then report the findings to corporate executives.

  • Internal Auditor

Internal auditors review and conduct compliance audits to test for internal controls, monitor risks, and review organizational compliance with local, state and federal laws and policies. Internal auditor managers may also establish new techniques and strategies for the betterment of a company and to prevent fraud.

  • Assistant Controller

An assistant controller reports directly to the controller and is responsible for supervising the collection and analysis of accounting data on a daily basis. They may also be responsible for handling overseas statutory reporting functions.

  • Controller

As the chief accounting executive, controllers are responsible for organizing, directing and controlling the workflow for the accounting personnel. Controllers help develop financial outlooks for proposed projects and measure corporate financial performance. Controllers are responsible for completing transactions (such as ensuring accounts receivable are collected), reporting (such as issuing financial statements), and compliance (such as monitoring debt levels).

  • Chief Financial Officer

Chief financial officers (CFOs) advise company chief executive officers or presidents about the organization’s financial stability, liquidity and growth potential. CFOs serve as members of a company’s board of directors and the executive committee and contribute to policy planning and implementation.


Steps To Becoming A Corporate Accountant

Within any corporate accountant job description are details that provide insight into what employers are seeking, including problem-solving and analytical skills, attention to detail, and leadership abilities. To fulfill the demands of the profession, experts recommend students take the following path to an accountancy career:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree

Anyone considering a career in corporate accountancy must earn a bachelor’s degree. While an undergraduate degree in accounting is not necessary, it is helpful.

  1. Earn a master’s degree

Corporate accountants are expected to hold a graduate level degree. Many students choose a master’s in accountancy online program so they can fulfill personal and professional obligations while earning an advanced degree.

  1. Earn CPA licensure

Most corporate accountants have passed their CPA exams to obtain certification in the field. Many states also require candidates to work for one or two years under a licensed CPA before full licensure.


Accountancy Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants and auditors earned a median salary of $69,350 in 2017 (the most recent data available). With expected job growth of 10% from 2016 to 2026, the profession will grow faster than others in the United States, economic forecasters said.

“In general, employment growth of accountants and auditors is expected to be closely tied to the health of the overall economy,” the BLS said.  “As the economy grows, more workers should be needed to prepare and examine financial records.”

As the profession grows, advanced education can help those interested in joining it. At the University of North Dakota, the Master of Accountancy online program can prepare students for the CPA exam, which can lead to careers as a corporate CPA for companies worldwide or other positions in the public or private sectors.


About the University of North Dakota’s Master’s in Accountancy Online Program

UND’s online M.Acc. program provides two tracks for anyone considering a career in accountancy. Students who have not completed significant amounts of undergraduate accounting coursework can participate in the university’s fundamentals track to earn an M.Acc degree. Those who hold an undergraduate accountancy degree can earn an M.Acc degree through the practitioner track. Both tracks prepare candidates for the CPA exam.

UND’s program is housed within the University’s College of Business & Public Administration, which is in the top 5% of business schools worldwide with accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). For more information, contact UND now.



Frequently Asked Questions FAQs – Become a CPA: AICPA

Accountants and Auditors: BLS

Positions in Business and Industry Accounting: AICPA

To Become a CPA: AICPA