Accounting Careers

The educational background of an accountant supports an array of career opportunities. Professional public and private accountants work in jobs suiting nearly every personality type. Demand for accountants has been strong in recent years and is expected to remain strong into the future.

Career paths include:

  • Public Accountants: CPAs conducting audits, doing tax work, and offering management advisory services to firm clients.
  • Governmental Accountants: (GAO) Government Accountability Office, (IRS) Internal Revenue, (FBI) Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Defense, The Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Management Accountants: Accounting management at a large or small company
    • Financial forecasting and budgeting manager
    • Financial analysis manager
    • Cost accounting manager
    • Financial reporting manager (controller or assistant controller)
    • Internal auditor
    • Treasurer
  • Financial director/chief accountant at a charity or other not-for-profit entity such as a university, hospital, or Red Cross
  • Self-employed in your own tax and accounting practice
  • Small business owner (accounting is ideally suited for this type of endeavor)
  • Working as a bank loan officer
  • Business consultant
  • Personal financial planner
  • Investment analyst or stock broker

    Accounting salaries continue to be among the highest of all undergraduate majors.

    Here are the average salaries for college graduates in public and private accounting. Keep in mind if you also have a CPA license, you'll make 10-15% more when you start out.

    Jr. Level (0-3 yrs.)
    Sr. Level (4-6 yrs.)
    Public Accounting (large firm)
    $51,500 - $74,250
    $71,000 - $92,250
    Public Accounting (medium firm)
    $42,250 - $66,750
    $64,250 - $84,500
    Public Accounting (small firm)
    $42,500 - $60,500
    $57,000 - $74,000
    Corporate Accounting (large co.)
    $41,750 - $68,500
    $67,000 - $86,500
    Corporate Accounting (medium co.)
    $40,000 - $63,250
    $60,250 - $79,500
    Corporate Accounting (small co.)
    $37,000 - $56,750
    $52,750 - $68,500

    Serious earning potential over time gives CPAs great job security. Here are some examples of upper-level salaries for managers in corporate accounting.

    Large Co.
    Small to Medium Co.
     Chief Financial Officer
    $189,750 - $411,000
    $96,750 - $190,500
     Corporate Controller
     $128,000 - $199,000
    $82,750 - $144,750
     Tax Manager
     $100,250 - $142,500

     $79,500 - $110,750

    Geographic region, experience, education, CPA certification and company size each play a role in determining salary (source)

    Accounting Internships

    Accounting internships provide students with real-world experiences in accounting while at the same time allowing them to earn credits towards a university degree. Internships are highly recommended. Some internship experiences are completed during the regular school year (for 3 credits) while taking other classes on campus. Other internships are full-time in nature and completed while away from campus for a semester or a year. Examples of accounting internships that have been completed by WSU accounting majors include positions at: 

    If you are interested in an internship, discuss the possibility with your academic advisor early in your planning. Several companies work in partnership with WSU through our Career Services area. Charlie Opatz (; Somsen 310; 507.457.5582) is the College of Business liaison as well as WSU career counselor. He is an additional source for advice in internships. Internship opportunities are posted on the Accounting Bulletin Board and are emailed weekly to students signed up with WSU Career Services

    Students who are in good standing with a minimum GPA of 2.5 are eligible. Internship credit may be applied toward general university graduation requirements.

    Prior to beginning work, the student must complete an internship proposal (PDF) and internship application. At this time internship applications cannot be filled online and are available in the Accounting Department (Somsen 323A) or the Dean’s office (Somsen 309) or the Warrior Hub (Maxwell 222)