Corporate Accounting: The Role of a CPA

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A CPA uses a calculator to prepare a financial report.

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.

A CPA’s work can be crucial to an organization’s success. By providing an accurate snapshot of corporate performance via financial accounting, they help make growth and maintenance strategies more efficient, which can yield both short- and long-term dividends.

An accountancy career provides a wide range of opportunities to work for both large and small corporations to assist in their financial solvency. Since accounting is a competitive and challenging field, anyone seeking a corporate accounting career should earn an advanced degree, such as an online Master of Accountancy (MAcc).

Corporate Accountant Job Description

Accounting is vital to any company because it provides information regarding historical and recent financial activities. This allows companies to engage in financial forecasting rooted in past performance, which minimizes guesswork and can lead to more informed financial strategies.

There are many opportunities for CPAs seeking employment in corporate accounting, from mom-and-pop businesses to Fortune 500 industries. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) highlights some popular accounting options on their site, including the following.

Financial Accounting

Accountants who work in financial accounting and reporting keep track of a company’s financial records, including accounts payable and receivable, 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 preparing reports. 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. At the senior level, usually those with six or more years of 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

Assistant controllers report directly to the controller and are 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.


As the chief accounting executive, controllers are responsible for organizing, directing and controlling the workflow for all 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 their company’s chief executive officer or president about the organization’s financial stability, liquidity and growth potential. CFOs serve as members of their company’s board of directors and 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:

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Anyone considering a career in corporate accountancy must earn a bachelor’s degree. While an undergraduate degree is not necessary for entry-level accounting roles such as accounting clerk or bookkeeper roles, it is considered essential for more advanced positions. This degree can be in accounting or in a related field, such as business.

Step 2: Earn a Master’s Degree

Corporate accountants are expected to hold a graduate-level degree. CPAs are licensed, and licensing boards require at least 150 semester hours of college coursework. Because bachelor’s programs fall short of this number of hours, prospective CPAs must earn a master’s to fulfill the requirement. Many students choose an online master’s in accountancy program so they can fulfill personal and professional obligations while earning an advanced degree.

Step 3: Earn CPA Licensure

Most corporate accountants have passed their CPA exams to obtain certification in the field. Many states also require candidates to accrue a minimum number of hours working under a licensed CPA before gaining full licensure.

Accounting Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants and auditors earned a median salary of $77,250 in 2021. The BLS projects 7% job growth for accountants and auditors between 2020 and 2030.

Accountants play a key role in every business, and those who pursue an accounting career are likely to find both job security and options to move between industries.

Play a Part in the Future of Business

Corporate accountants are fundamental to a company’s success. They help businesses achieve their financial goals and abide by fiscal laws and regulations. The University of North Dakota’s online Master of Accountancy program helps students take a crucial step toward this essential and satisfying career. The program helps students gain the knowledge and skills they need to prepare for the CPA exam and successfully pursue a career in corporate accounting. Advance your accounting career today with the University of North Dakota.



American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Frequently Asked Questions FAQs — Become a CPA

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Positions in Business and Industry Accounting

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, What Does It Take to Become a CPA?

Houston Chronicle, “What Are the Duties of a Corporate Accountant?”

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, What Is the Uniform CPA Examination?

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accountants and Auditors