Accounting and Finance Careers Will Be In-Demand in 2016

Posted By Terri Williams on November 5, 2015 at 9:20 am
Accounting and Finance Careers Will Be In-Demand in 2016

The ability to accurately crunch numbers is a unique skill set in high demand. As a result, graduates with degrees in accounting, finance, and related majors are reaping lucrative salaries and vast career opportunities. Graduates of these programs are being highly sought after by employers, and enrollment in undergraduate and graduate accounting programs is at an all-time high.

“At Virginia Tech, accounting is the most interviewed major on campus – and has been for a number of years,” says Stuart Mease, Executive Director for Student Advancement and Career Services in the Pamplin College of Business-Undergraduate Programs at Virginia Tech.

Monica Mendoza Jeancola, Assistant Professor of Accounting at the M.E. Rinker Institute at Stetson University in DeLand, FL, says, “Our accounting students continue to find employment before graduation from the Master’s in Accounting program.  We continually find ourselves having to tell prospective employers that we don’t have any students still looking for work during recruiting because they have all been placed. Many receive job offers in their senior year—even before entering the Master’s program.”

But some jobs in this sector are in higher demand than others, and according to the 2016 Salary Guide for Finance and Accounting, by Robert Half, the ten accounting and finance careers listed below are in especially high demand. The table below shows the salary ranges across average small, midsize and large companies:

Large company Midsize company Small company
Accounting Manager $84,500 – $118,000 $74,500 – $97,500 $67,000 – $88,750
Business analyst $59,500 – $81,500 $59,000 – $80,500 N/A
Business systems analyst $62,250 – $80,250 $60,750 – $74,750 N/A
Compliance officers $109,500 -$150,000 $99,750 -$132,750 $82,000 – $108,000
Financial analyst $58,5000 – $78,750 $55,250 – $72,500 $49,250 – $65,000
Information technology auditor $61,500 – $83,250 $57,500 – $77,750 N/A
Internal auditor $61,500 – $83,250 $57,000 – $77,750 N/A
Payroll professionals:
1 – Coordinator
2 – Clerk
$42,500 – $57,750 N/A N/A
$35,750 – $46,500 $34,000 – $46,000 $31,750 – $40,750
Senior accountant $68,750 – $87,750 $61,250 – $79,750 $57,500 – $70,000
Staff accountant $53,750 – $69,500 $49,250 – $52,250 $45,500 – $59,000


In demand credentials and skills

While a degree puts you on the track to a rewarding career in accounting or finance, professionals who have the following credentials have a competitive edge:

  • CPA (certified public accountant)
  • MBA (master of business administration)
  • CFA (chartered financial analyst)
  • CGMA (chartered global management accountant)
  • CIA (certified internal auditor)
  • CISA (certified information systems auditor)
  • CMA (certified management accountant)
  • CPP (certified payroll professional)
  • PMP (project management professional)

For example, Mease says, “If accounting students obtain their CPA, there is almost a lifetime of job stability because of one having that designation in the marketplace.”

However, success in these areas requires more than just a head for numbers. According to Los Angeles-based career coach and consultant Nichole Wesson, “More than just math proficiency, accounting professionals need to possess soft skills that directly relate to the role they play within the organization. Adaptability, organizational, problem-solving, and communication abilities are some of the soft skills required in accounting roles.”

Wesson says accounting is a good profession for critical thinkers and for those who don’t necessarily seek the spotlight. “It provides the flexibility of either being client-facing or not.”

Stepping stone

Accounting might also be a good choice for those with managerial or entrepreneurial aspirations. “Accounting is more than you expect. It involves understanding the increasingly complex issues businesses face,” says Stephen B. Salter, Professor and Department Chair of Accounting at Middle Tennessee State University.

“Without accounting, strategy and all the other areas cannot be implemented, nor can a company measure its success and learn from its failures. Always remember what is measured can and will be managed,” says Salter. “If you want to be a CEO, it’s a great start because it draws together and uses both numeric and non-numeric concepts to effectively manage a corporation.”

Salter says he entered accounting because his family was lower middle class and he knew there was always a job in accounting. “Having spent 20 plus years teaching, I find there is a beauty and symmetry to the concepts and challenges of measurement and the human interaction of collecting, understanding and verifying data that keeps me engaged and happy.”

And Dr. Robert M. Valli, Dean of the LIU Post College of Management adds, “The greatest benefit of pursuing an accounting degree with an accredited program is that it’s a skill set that will prepare you for a lifelong career in business, in or outside the field of accounting.” In fact, Valli says, “If you want to be an entrepreneur, for example, and you go to a bank looking for funding, the bank will be more likely to underwrite your business if they see a CPA and an MBA on your resume, based on the fact that you can fall back on that career.”

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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