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Not Your Typical CPA: Unconventional Accounting Careers

Written on Apr 4, 2022
accounting and finance professionals

(fietzfotos / pixabay)

You already know that your accounting or finance degree puts you in high demand in today's workforce. But are you aware of how diverse your opportunities are? There isn’t a single business that doesn’t have finances to manage.

Traditionally, accountants work as budget analysts, managerial accountants, or CPAs who evaluate financial documents and work on taxes. And whether you’re a seasoned accountant or fresh out of college, you may be looking to steer your accounting or finance career in a nontraditional direction and mix things up. Check out some exciting job opportunities that take you far beyond the land of taxes, budgets, and management!

The Rich & Famous

The more money a person makes, the more accounting advice they need. From real estate moguls to A-list celebrities and top athletes, everyone needs financial counsel and tax advice. That’s where you come in.

Your hometown minor or major league athletes, local celebrities and musicians, and top executives in your community need your services as much as Beyonce and J Lo. Treat them with professionalism and provide them with confidentiality. Prepare for your name to get whispered in ears across their social circles. That’s the magic that makes your list of clients grow.

How does one get started advising high-profile clients? It’s not cold-calling.

Go to their public meet-and-greets. Then hang back as everyone else goes in for a handshake or autograph. The people standing around with you and watching are probably in this person’s circle, and they are the people you want to connect with. Mention your accounting services, confidentiality, and professionalism, and, with a little luck, they’ll pass your name along to the right person.

Another way to bring high-profile clients to your business is to speak at events or get involved in charitable causes. Celebrities and prominent business people often attend these events to enhance their reputation and give them exposure. It also allows them to help improve their community or environment.

The Film Industry

Do you love TV shows and movies? Then you might be interested in a career that marries your film interests with your accounting prowess, such as a film production manager.

Movie and TV studios need help estimating costs, negotiating salaries, and creating and sticking to budgets. They need to know if they have the money to hire that A-list actor. Can they afford to fly a cast to a destination, or do they need to work on a set with graphics added later? And which one of those options fits their budget constraints?

A bachelor’s degree plus experience in production will give you a leg up in this industry. (We feel the need to make a “break a leg” joke here …)

The Sports Industry

Entire sports teams and individual athletes alike need help managing their finances. Whether it’s your hometown baseball league or an NFL team, you can help them set ticket admission prices, create a team budget, attract talent, and negotiate salaries.

You can help individual athletes invest wisely, disburse charitable donations, and pay taxes.

Working in the sports industry could also result in perks like free game tickets, front-row seats, team meet-and-greets, and more.

An MBA or other graduate degree, flexibility in your location, good communication skills, and a willingness to start at the bottom and work your way up will help you score this type of career.

Super Sleuth

There was a CBS television show that ran from 2005 to 2010 called Numb3rs in which a math prodigy helped his special agent brother solve crimes for the FBI. The show was fictional, but that career is completely real.

Do you know what finally got famous gangster Al Capone more than a brief stint in prison? Proof of his tax evasion ultimately took him down. If this appeals to you, forensic accounting might be of interest to you.

As a financial analyst or forensic accountant, you can help the FBI, CIA, IRS, or Department of Homeland Security solve crimes and appear as an expert witness in court to bring pesky tax-evading, money-laundering criminals to justice.

CPA credentials are usually preferred. You’ll kill the competition if you have a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) certification when applying for this type of job.

***Bonus Career Opportunity–Auditor–As an auditor for a private company or the government, you can use your numerical detective skills to uncover mismanaged funds or fraud.***

Purchasing/Procurement

From fashion runways to homeland security, careers in purchasing run the gamut. If you are creative, forward-thinking, and fast-paced, this type of job could be for you.

Companies need someone who can predict future needs, evaluate purchase costs, maintain purchasing records, negotiate vendor contracts, and assess the worthiness of supplies and suppliers.

You’ll need an understanding of the industry plus a bachelor’s degree in finance or business to procure your spot as a purchaser.

Eco-savvy/Non-profit accountant

Do you have a soft spot for businesses and non-profit organizations trying to make the world a better place or reducing their carbon footprint? Consider helping one of these organizations cost-effectively achieve its goals. They can’t improve the world if they can’t operate due to financial troubles.

With your accounting degree, you can help a non-profit develop plans, raise funds, build and strengthen donor relationships, and manage its budget.

Aid a corporation in reaching its environmental goals by finding ways they can reduce pollution and energy costs, produce greener goods, and comply with environmental regulations.

You can be the Captain Planet of the accounting world!

Tech/Software Developers

Not only do tech companies need accountants to crunch their numbers for budget and payroll, but also software developers and programmers creating accounting software need input on the accuracy and user-friendliness of their products. You have the accounting knowledge and user viewpoint they’re looking for, and with a basic understanding of programming or code writing, you’ll be even more desirable to these potential employers. Additionally, there are plenty of career options available to CPAs in the field of cybersecurity. Helping organizations protect themselves from cyber criminals or preventing a data breach is something that a CPA with a technology background can do.

Teacher

There are too few teachers in the world. Whether you make this a part-time, full-time, or post-retirement job, passing along your valuable accounting wisdom at some point in your career will help pave the way for future generations of accountants.

Entrepreneur

Most people don’t see how anyone has the guts to start their own business without accounting/finance/tax education, but people do it every day. But you? You already have the financial and accounting know-how to make starting a business easier on yourself.

Create a successful business out of your interests or hobbies. Or start your own accounting firm. You’ll be able to develop your own financial plan and budget, run your own expense-to-profit analysis, and much more.

Get Going!

We hope this list will motivate you to use your special interests, hobbies, or skill sets to search beyond the conventional accounting career or inspire you to create your own job. With your accounting degree, the sky’s the limit. You’re only bound by your imagination.

Check out more careers for accounting and finance professionals here. And stay marketable by keeping up on continuing professional education at The Ohio Society of CPAs where you can gain access to 24+ hours of free CPE courses and networking opportunities to expand your career possibilities and make connections in non-traditional accounting careers.