Most Common Job Titles in Accounting and Finance

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 23, 2021 | Published March 30, 2020

Updated July 23, 2021

Published March 30, 2020

The accounting and finance industry is a diverse field with a wide range of positions. Due to this variety, there are many different job titles to consider if you are interested in a career in this industry. Before starting a job search, it is important to understand all of the available job titles so that you can choose the best career path for you. In this article, we discuss the requirements for working in accounting and explore various job titles in the field.

Why is it important to know accounting titles?

It is important to familiarize yourself with accounting titles because an accountant's job title determines their professional duties. Many people believe that there is not much diversity in accounting jobs, but in reality, accountants can have a variety of different duties and areas of specialization depending on their specific job title.

The word "accounting" is a generic term that encompasses a broad range of job titles, so there are many varying roles in this category of work. Each specific role also requires different skills and levels of experience. If you want to work in accounting, it is important to understand all of your available options to help you decide which works best for you.

Requirements for becoming an accountant

If you want to pursue a career in accounting, there are a few different requirements you may need to fulfill, depending on the specific job you want to pursue. Here are some of the typical requirements:

  • High school diploma

  • College education

  • CPA certification

  • Area of specialty

  • Work experience

High school diploma

Although a high school diploma is typically mandatory, even for entry-level accounting jobs, you can start a career in accounting without formal higher education. Many bookkeepers, for example, only have a high school diploma and advanced mathematical skills. Some college students also choose to work as a part-time bookkeeper while pursuing their degrees.

College education

Most jobs in accounting require a minimum of a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field such as finance. Many major businesses hire accountants with bachelor's degrees for their accounting departments, for example. Some accountants choose to pursue a master's degree in accounting or business administration to help further their careers. These degrees teach accounting students fundamental technical skills required to perform the duties of higher-level jobs in this field.

CPA certification

After accounting students complete their degrees, they can take a test to get state licensure and certification. To become a certified public accountant (CPA), you must pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, which the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants evaluates. This certification typically gives CPAs more freedom than accountants, specifically when dealing with certain tasks such as reviewing financial information and conducting audits.

Non-certified accountants are still able to work on their own or as assistants to other accountants. However, having a CPA certification is often a requirement for those seeking more senior roles, such as chief financial officer.

Area of specialty

Once you have a degree and your CPA certification, the next step to consider is pursuing a specific specialty. Having an area of specialty looks great on your resume and helps you narrow down your job search. The following are some example areas of specialty in the accounting field:

  • Non-profits

  • Forensics and valuation

  • Taxes

  • Personal finance planning

  • Government

You can also further specialize in certain industries or clients. For example, you may choose to specifically work as a healthcare valuation specialist, or you might decide to provide financial planning for low-income individuals. Your chosen area of specialty can then help determine the professional title that works best for you.

Work experience

Senior accounting positions usually require at least 10 years of experience in the field. For example, to become a chief financial officer, you must have experience in lower-level accounting jobs such as a controller or treasury position.

Accounting job titles

There is a wide variety of accounting job titles, but most fit into the following categories:

  • Accountant

  • Accounting clerk

  • Auditor

  • Controller

  • Chief financial officer

Accountant

Accountants are professionals who record, summarize, evaluate and report financial transactions for organizations. They are responsible for handling account analysis, which is the overall process of managing financial transactions. Accountants analyze data related to tax returns, financial reports and accounting records. Their primary duty is to check financial records to make sure that businesses are running efficiently. Some of their other duties may include reconciling bank accounts, overseeing tax filing and coordinating annual audits.

Accountants may work for an accounting firm or a company that has an internal accounting department. They may also choose to set up their own practice.

The following is a list of alternative job titles for an accountant:

  • Tax accountant

  • Forensic accountant

  • CPA

  • Accounting officer

  • Cost accountant

  • General accountant

  • Managerial accountant

Accounting clerk

Accounting clerks are typically lower-level accounting professionals who are responsible for creating, reviewing and maintaining accounting records as well as keeping a record of business transactions. They should be skilled at using data entry software, but unlike accountants, they do not need to be as skilled in data analysis because they are mostly responsible for data entry and organization.

Accountant clerks often perform and track bank deposits and transfers. They are typically responsible for reconciling bank statements, developing financial reports, preparing taxes and using accounting software to keep track of all financial transactions within a business. Periodically, they may gather information to perform audits.

Here are some job titles that are related to an accounting clerk:

  • Bookkeeper

  • Accounting secretary

  • Administrative specialist

  • Finance clerk

  • Accounting assistant

Read more: Learn About Being an Accounting Clerk

Auditor

Auditors are skilled in maintaining and organizing financial data. An auditor is responsible for analyzing an organization's reports and records, and they aid firms by ensuring public records are kept accurate and confirming the proper payment of taxes. Auditors also communicate financial information for organizations, individual people and the federal, state and local governments.

The following job titles relate to an auditor:

  • Financial auditor

  • Internal auditor

  • Compliance auditor

  • Audit manager

  • Revenue tax specialist

  • State income tax specialist

  • Assurance manager

  • Senior auditor

Read more: Learn About Being an Auditor

Controller

A controller helps companies develop strategic plans for their finances. By overseeing all accounting and financial activities, they support the health of a business. They typically work under chief financial officers, and they often share many duties with them as well. Their responsibilities may include preparing budgets, collecting financial data and developing reports. In smaller businesses, they might take on both roles simultaneously.

The following are controller job titles:

  • Comptroller

  • Corporate controller

  • Director of accounting

  • Finance manager

  • Treasurer

  • Business controller

  • Financial controller

Read more: Learn About Being a Controller

Chief financial officer

The chief financial officer (CFO) is a senior executive in a business who oversees all financial and accounting activities. Some of their duties include tracking transactions, making financial plans and offering advice for improving finances. The CFO is often the third-highest position in an organization, so they have a lot of responsibility. They ensure that a business follows the law during all financial transactions and when the company is paying taxes. Usually, CFOs report directly to a chief executive officer and the board of directors.

CFO is a corporate position with a few similar job titles, including the following:

  • Assistant chief financial officer

  • Vice president of finances

  • Virtual CFO

  • Construction CFO

Read more: Learn About Being a CFO (Chief Financial Officer)

Financial analyst

Financial analysts inspect financial information and offer financial advice to companies and organizations, including recommendations for investments. They work in a variety of different organizations, including banks, insurance companies, pension funds, securities firms and more. In each location, they prepare financial models that predict economic conditions in the future for a variety of variables.

Here are some financial analyst job titles:

  • Investment analyst

  • Real estate analyst

  • Trust officer

  • Securities analyst

  • Financial advisor

  • Portfolio manager

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