Career Opportunities with an Accounting Degree

An Accounting degree is relevant in all areas and sizes of business from local convenience stores to international conglomerates. Because of this a degree in Accounting is a popular choice with students and employers alike.

Once you’ve undertaken the required postgraduate study to make you a fully qualified accountant you’ll find that there is no shortage of career options available to you in almost any industry you can imagine.

So, what are your career opportunities with an Accounting degree and how do you get that lucrative accountancy career you’ve been hearing about?

Further education after graduation

If you want a more lucrative career then you’re going to need to do further study after your undergraduate degree to become a chartered accountant.

Many graduates choose to do this by applying to work for one of the “Big Four” accounting firms. They are:

  • Deloitte
  • PwC
  • Ernst & Young
  • KPMG

These work experience roles give you the support and training you need whilst taking your professional exams and gaining your chartered accountant status.

Popular career options

Whether you apply for a position with a big firm or not there are a number of career options for Accountancy graduates including:

Trainee Accountant

As a trainee accountant you’ll usually take a three year salaried role with an organisation that will support you whilst you take your chartered accountancy exams.

As part of the role you’ll need to complete a certain amount of work experience, take the relevant courses in subjects such as ethics, and pass exams.

Your work will usually involve preparing and auditing accounts, collecting raw data, analysing the incomings and outgoings of clients, and monitoring and forecasting bank balances.

Depending on the organisation you are placed with you may also liaise with investors, process records, deal with telephone enquiries, and set up new investments.

At the end of your work experience placement it’s not unusual for the company to take you on as a permanent member of staff, although the possibility of this should be confirmed before you take the role if this is something you’re interested in.

Chartered Accountant

Obviously what you’ll be working towards as a trainee, and the reason many students take an Accounting degree, is to become a chartered accountant.

As a fully qualified accountant you’ll be working for a professional accounting body. There are three professional accounting bodies in the UK:

  • Chartered Accountants Ireland
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland

Working for a professional body means that you’ll need to maintain certain standards of practice and adhere to the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) set by organisations such as the Financial Reporting Council (FRC).

Typically there are three types of accountants:

  • Public accountants –these accountants work for individuals or public organisations
  • Management accountants –these accountants work for private companies and are sometimes known as private or cost accountants
  • Government accountants –these accountants work for local or national governments

Regardless of the type of accountant you become your general work day will be fairly similar. Your role will generally involve managing financial systems and budgets, providing financial advice to your client or employer, undertaking financial audits, performing risk analyses, liaising with your clients, and detecting and preventing fraud.


There are two types of auditors – internal and  external – and both roles involve reviewing the financial accounts of companies and organisations to ensure their records are valid and legal.

Internal auditors generally deal with the private sector and external auditors usually deal with taxes and the government, although they may be asked to examine the finances of private companies that work with the government.

In both roles your duties will usually be to collate, check, and analyse financial data, examine financial control systems, ensure accurate and reliable financial records, and produce reports and make recommendations for the financial future of the company, client, or employer.

Again, both roles can be done as part of an accounting department or as consultancy roles.

Less common career options with an Accounting degree

You don’t just have to use your degree to become a chartered accountant. There are many transferrable skills that you’ll gain during your degree that will make you very attractive to potential employers.

Alternative career options include:

  • Actuary
  • Budget analyst
  • Claims examiner
  • Cost estimator
  • Credit controller
  • Financial analyst
  • Financial trader
  • Payroll administrator
  • Personal financial advisor
  • Tax adviser
  • Retail banker