How to Become an Accountant?

Are you thinking of becoming an Accountant or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become an Accountant, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Accountant job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

Steps to Become an Accountant

Accountants have many finance-related responsibilities generally associated with prepping financial records. These tasks can include organizing and maintaining financial records, ensuring accounting statement accuracy, and computing taxes and preparing tax returns. Accountants must perform these tasks while abiding by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). In this article, we discuss the steps required to become an accountant:

Earn your accounting degree.

Regardless of your plans for your career, to become an accountant, you must first earn your degree in accounting. An associate degree is also acceptable for specific job paths, but a bachelor's degree is preferred. A bachelor's degree in accounting can lead to various business roles and provide a solid foundation for further studies in the accounting field.

During your education, you'll learn about tax laws and study accounting principles and other mathematical-based concepts. You'll also be required to study specific business-related courses such as the following:

  • Ethics.
  • International finance.
  • Auditing.
  • Financial recordkeeping.
  • Management.
  • Statistics.

What type of degree should you pursue to become an Accountant?

80% of people working as an Accountant earned a Bachelor's Degree

What skills do you need to be an Accountant?

  • Excellent Communication
  • General Ledger
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Microsoft EXCEL
  • GAAP
  • Audit
  • Powerpoint
  • Attention To Detail
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as an Accountant in the United States.

Find an accounting job.

After obtaining your degree for your career in accounting, you'll need to then gain real-world experience to advance in your career. You can progress toward earning an advanced degree while working an entry-level accounting job. Additionally, internships for companies such as accounting firms can lead to job offers.

If you wish, you can proceed in this direction instead of going directly to a job. During an internship, it's essential to put forth your best effort, be professional, and build your professional network for your future.


Earn an advanced degree.

If you plan on furthering your career beyond an entry-level accounting job, earning an advanced degree in accounting will be necessary. A master's degree in accounting can open more doors to stable career paths with a higher earning potential such as auditing, forensic accounting, and public accounting. A master's degree can also help you attain a higher salary for the position you hold.

You may not qualify to take the Certified Public Accountant Examination with only a bachelor's degree, making a master's degree necessary to advance your career further. Master's degree options include the following:

  • Master of Accountancy.
  • Master of Science in Accounting.
  • Master of Professional Accountancy.
  • Master of Business Administration with an accounting specialty.

Take the Certified Public Accountant Examination.

Depending on which accounting specialty you choose, you may decide to take your Certified Public Accountant Examination, commonly known as the CPA. This career path requires you to pass a comprehensive examination and have extensive knowledge in the field of accounting. After passing your CPA exam, you'll be qualified to file Securities and Exchange Commission reports and represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service in matters related to income taxes.


Continue your education.

To maintain your license as a CPA, you'll be required to complete continuing professional education training every year. You'll also need to renew your CPA license every few years. In addition, you may also obtain your Certified Management Accountant certification. Attaining this certification requires two years of experience in accounting management and successful completion of an exam.

Accountant Career Path


2 - 4Years of Experience
$58K - $91K /yrMost Likely Range
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Senior Accountant

2 - 4Years of Experience
$80K - $114K /yrMost Likely Range
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Adjunct Accountant

No Years of Experience Reports
$76K - $110K /yrMost Likely Range
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Total Pay Trajectory

Accountant Career Path

Summer Intern Accountant
Assistant Manager of Accounting
Senior Accountant
Accountant Manager
Adjunct Accountant
Senior Manager of Accounting
Principal Accountant
Assistant Director of Accounting
Senior Principal Accountant
Associate Director of Accounting
Accounting Director
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Related Careers in the Finance & Accounting Industry

Interested in other Finance & Accounting careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Accountant skills. Discover some of the most common Accountant career transitions, along with skills overlap.

Management Accountant
38% skills overlap
13% transitioned to Management Accountant