The days of accountants as boring nerds wearing green eyeshades are gone forever. In the 21st Century, an accounting career offers exciting and challenging work. When you pursue a career in this field and reach the more senior levels, you’ll be involved in setting strategy, serve as an advisor to C-suite leaders, and use analytical and problem-solving skills to solve complex issues.

Most people who hear the word “accountant” think of someone working at one of the large public accounting firms that do the lion’s share of the world’s audit and attestation work. But you might be surprised to learn that 75% of professionals working in accounting careers work in management accounting. They serve in roles all the way from an entry-level staff accountant to the “Big Cheese”—the chief financial officer (CFO). These are the folks that work inside organizations, performing all those essential jobs that keep an enterprise financially afloat and thriving. If you want a career in management accounting, there’s no better preparation than to pursue IMA’s CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification, which will equip you with valuable skills to prepare you for on-the-job challenges and put you ahead of the competition.

Take a look at some of the accounting jobs that are available to you when you decide to pursue this career:

Senior Management Roles

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

  • Reporting directly to the CEO, the CFO holds the most senior accounting job, which means they’re the C-suite executive tasked with overseeing the company’s overall fiscal health. They may not do all the necessary hands-on bookkeeping, but they work closely with their teams and other key department heads to analyze financial data, create budgets and forecasts, and ensure the accuracy of all financial reports. In short, everything financial in a company rolls up to the CFO. Balancing revenues and expenses, managing financial planning and analysis functions, and even making recommendations for everything from mergers and acquisitions to funding: These all fall under the CFO’s jurisdiction.

Financial Controller

  • If you've ever wondered who's accountable for a company’s books and financial close, look no further than the financial controller. In their job, controllers need to be familiar with the latest technology that supports a remote close, and they need to make sure that all proper risks and controls are in place for a safe and compliant close. Controllers are responsible for compiling and preparing records like income reports, expenses, balance sheets, and the like. Plus, they oversee internal audits, keep an eye on tax compliance, and are involved in forecasting and budgeting. And they’re in charge of hiring and training the financial and accounting staff.


  • An accounting career as a treasurer involves overseeing and managing an organization’s financial resources and operations. At a larger organization, this may mean leading an in-house finance department. In a smaller organization, it may mean being responsible for recording business transactions, tracking expenses, and depositing funds. In addition to their role of money tracker, a treasurer's job includes monitoring investments and the risks associated with them. Treasurers also prepare an organization’s annual budget and the budgets for various business segments. They also oversee cash management procedures.

Vice President, Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A)

  • This senior-level accounting job typically reports to the CFO. It’s a job with heavy responsibility, as it includes leading a staff of managers and financial analysts and helping to set strategy for the company. Depending on the type of company they work for, the VP of FP&A focuses on customer-client profitability, product profitability, and overall corporate cost containment. They also ensure that strategic decisions are built into plans throughout the company and create business cases for proposed new products and services.


Management Roles

Divisional Controller

  • Divisional controllers typically report to a divisional CFO or the corporate controller. They manage people who hold various accounting jobs within their division, mostly staff responsible for financial reporting and accounting operations. These accounting professionals must know their division inside and out, as they are responsible for internal financial statements, monitoring business performance metrics, and evaluating the effectiveness of accounting systems. They also help with their division’s operations planning, budgeting, and reporting.

Director of Cost Accounting

  • This is a management role that involves overseeing a staff of cost accountants—the junior professionals who analyze costs of operations and conduct month-end cost accounting close and overhead allocation. Someone who thrives in this accounting job should love working “in-the-weeds,” looking at nitty-gritty details like inventory valuation, and be comfortable recommending strategies for cost tracking and containment. Part of the job also involves communicating variances to senior management and participating in budget preparation.

Accounting Manager

  • If you like math and solving puzzles, then an accounting career as an accounting manager may be for you. Professionals in this accounting job need to appreciate the small details but they also must be able to grasp the big picture too. Their role is to oversee financial reporting, prepare budgets, meet compliance obligations, facilitate audits, implement effective internal controls, and manage accounting staff. This accounting job typically reports to the controller, but a big part of the job involves working collaboratively with other departments, such as marketing, operations, and IT. At a large company, the accounting manager may also serve as a liaison to external auditors.

Financial Manager

  • Like their name implies, financial managers deal with money. They determine a company’s financial needs, timing, and how to secure funding to achieve its goals. That means they get to spend money through investments as well as raise money through financing. When a company needs to cut costs, financial managers help make the decisions on where those cost cuts will be most effective. They also actively participate in financial planning to determine the investments needed for short- and long-term goals. The decisions financial managers make every day can have long-term consequences, both positive and negative, for an organization. People in the role of financial manager typically report to the controller or the director of accounting and finance.


Staff Roles

Senior Financial Analyst

  • This is one of the more senior accounting staff roles, and professionals in this role typically report to the manager or vice president of VP&A. The job of a senior financial analyst involves lots of report preparation and (surprise!) analysis: They prepare financial models, plans, and budgets, plus they conduct analyses and provide explanations of variances for years' experience. A senior financial analyst is also often called upon to support senior staff members with special projects.

Financial Analyst

  • If the idea of analyzing “big picture” trends sounds like something you’re interested in, then a job as a financial analyst may be just what you’re looking for. It’s a role that’s great for people who like to take a whole bunch of data, figure out the story it’s telling, and then make recommendations that will help their company get the most bang for their investment buck. In their job, these professionals help their organization make a profit by investing in stocks, bonds, and other financial products and to do that, they need to have a birds-eye view of how fiscal, monetary, and even political trends affect the financial markets and even individual companies. Typically, a financial analyst will report to the manager of a specialty area (area (cost accounting, treasury, financial planning & analysis, etc.).

Senior Accountant

  • In the typical progression of an accounting career, the role of senior accountant is the next step up from staff accountant. Senior accountants typically report to the accounting manager, assistant controller, or, if it’s a smaller company, the controller. They perform lots of the same day-to-day accounting responsibilities as a staff accountant, but they also may be called in to do more high-level analysis.

Staff Accountant

  • If you want to pursue an accounting career, then the role of staff accountant is often the place to start. Staff accountants typically report to an accounting manager, and they perform account analyses and reconciliations. This means they work on things like comparing general ledger information to external statements and internal subledgers, researching discrepancies, and preparing journal entries, including accruals. This accounting job may also involve maintaining a fixed asset ledger, posting entries to the general ledger, testing internal controls, and running reports that are needed to prepare financial statements.

Search for Jobs