7 different types of accountants and finding your fit

When we think of accounting, images of spreadsheets, calculators, and tax forms often come to mind. But accounting isn’t just one thing. It’s a diverse field of specialities, each with its own unique set of challenges and rewards. If you have a gift for financial analysis, business strategy or problem-solving, there is a vast array of accounting opportunities waiting for you.

a female accountant are using a calculator

Are you interested in investigating financial fraud, or do you see yourself advising businesses on tax matters? This guide will take you through the different types of accountants, helping you find a specialisation that matches your career goals. As we explore the different accounting pathways, think about what excites you and where your strengths lie.

Recommended reading: How to start an accounting practice in Australia

How to become an accountant

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree

The first major step towards an accounting career is to earn a bachelor’s degree. Degrees in accounting, finance, or even math and economics are common choices. These programs, which typically last three years, sets you up with the skills you need for the job.

2. Consider getting a master’s degree

For those who didn’t pursue an undergraduate degree in accounting, a Master of Professional Accounting offers fresh accounting opportunities. This two-year program is accessible to graduates from different backgrounds, provided they show an interest or proficiency in accounting.

The program equips aspiring accountants with skills and knowledge essential in the field, making it an ideal stepping stone for career switchers or accountants looking to upskill themselves.

3. Getting certified

Getting certified is a significant milestone on the path to becoming an accountant. The certification process involves rigorous exams and, often, a certain amount of practical experience in the field. This certification not only boosts your credibility, but also increases your earning potential and makes you more marketable in a competitive market.

Here are three common certification programs for accountants:

Chartered accountant (CA): This is a globally recognised certification focusing on accounting, auditing and tax, with a strong emphasis on financial reporting and compliance.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA): Primarily based in the US, the CPA program qualifies professionals to practice public accounting, focusing on auditing, taxation, and financial reporting.

Certified Treasury Professional (CTP): The CTP program specialises in corporate treasury management. It covers cash management, corporate finance, and risk management, rather than traditional accounting or auditing.

4. Choosing your accounting niche

Once you’re earned your accounting credentials, the next exciting phase is finding the accounting pathway that’s right for you.

Specialising allows you to channel your expertise into a specific area, making you a sought-after professional. Consider enrolling in specialised courses or seeking targeted work experiences to hone your skills and deepen your knowledge in your chosen accounting pathway.

Types of accountants

Contrary to popular belief, accounting isn’t a cookie-cutter profession. It’s a diverse field that offers a variety of specialisations. Here are the different types of accountants available and the unique qualities suited for each.

1. Forensic accountant

Forensic accounting is like being the detective of the financial world. These accountants combine accounting expertise with investigative skills to detect and investigate financial fraud and white-collar crimes. Their work involves going through financial records to uncover cases of suspected fraud, embezzlement, or other financial misdeeds.

If you have a Sherlock Holmes-like curiosity and a strong sense of justice, forensic accounting could for you. This field is suitable for those who are excellent number crunchers and also have a keen eye for detail. Strong communication skills are important, as you’ll often have to translate your findings into clear, understandable language for your clients.

2. Tax accountant

Tax accountants specialise in preparing and filing tax returns, ensuring compliance with tax laws, and identifying opportunities for tax savings. This role demands a thorough understanding of tax rules and the ability to apply them accurately across various financial scenarios.

This accounting pathway is suited for those who enjoy staying updated on the ever-changing tax landscape. If you have a knack for numbers and enjoy using your tax knowledge to provide financial benefits to clients, a career as a tax accountant might be ideal for you.

3. Management accountant

Management accountants go beyond traditional accounting tasks to provide actionable insights that drive business strategy and performance. By analysing financial data, they help business owners determine their company’s direction and make decisions that affect the bottom line and future growth.

Management accounting is suitable for those who are not only good with numbers but are business savvy as well.  If you excel in turning complex financial data into actionable business strategies, management accounting could be a great fit for you.

4. Financial accountant

Financial accountants analyse the different financial transactions of a company and use the information to create reports on the company’s financial health. Stakeholders, such as investors or regulatory bodies, rely on reports by financial accountants to make informed decisions regarding investments or loans.

If you enjoy dissecting financial data and possess the communications skills to break down complex information in a digestible format, a career in financial accounting might be for you.

5. Auditors

An auditor’s primary role is to review and confirm the accuracy of financial records and statements within a business. They ensure these records comply with legal standards and accurately represent the company’s financial status.

Internal auditors report their findings to corporate management, highlighting inefficiencies or financial irregularities and suggesting improvements. External auditors, on the other hand, provide their audit reports to stakeholders outside the company, such as investors.

Good auditors usually require the patience and diligence to comb through extensive financial records and the integrity to report their findings truthfully. Effective communication skills are also important, since auditors have to explain their findings and recommendations to both financial and non-financial audiences within the organization or externally.

6. Insolvency

Insolvency is a niche field within accounting that deals with companies facing financial hardships or bankruptcy. When businesses can no longer meet its financial obligations, insolvency accountants step in to secure the fairest deal for creditors, suppliers, and employees.

Insolvency accountants should not only have strong analytical skills, but also the empathy to handle such sensitive situations. Building strong relationships is key, as referrals from banks and lawyers will open doors to accounting opportunities in this specialised area.

7. Risk assessors

Risk assessment in accounting is all about anticipating potential financial threats and coming up with effective safeguards. This involves analysing a company’s operations, financial statements, and external market conditions to identify risks that could impact the company’s operations or profitability. Risk assessors then recommend strategies to prevent or minimise the effects of those risks.

The ideal candidate for a career in risk assessment is someone capable of predicting future scenarios. These individuals are analytical, enjoy dissecting complex data, and are skilled in communicating their findings and recommendations to stakeholders.

Tailored insurance for your accounting specialisation

It’s clear accounting is anything but monotonous. Whether you’re drawn to the thrill of forensic accounting or the strategic challenges of management accounting, your accounting journey is yours to shape. With insights gained from this article, you’re now better equipped to choose an accounting pathway that not only suits your talents but also fulfils your professional dreams.

As an accountant, untangling numbers and deciphering financial reports is complicated enough. We at BizCover understand this, that’s why we make it our mission to make accounting insurance the easy part of your day. Just a few clicks and you’ll have multiple accounting insurance quotes to compare, all online and hassle-free.

*This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. © 2024 BizCover Pty Limited, all rights reserved. ABN 68 127 707 975; AFSL 501769

Compare multiple quotes online in minutes

Compare FREE quotes

Compare multiple quotes online in minutes

Trusted by over 220,000 Australian small businesses.

Compare FREE quotes

Popular Searches