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5 Best Jobs for Accountants Who Don’t Want to Be Accountants

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If you’ve ever found yourself sighing at your desk, surrounded by tax forms and journal entries, thinking, “There’s got to be more to life than this,” then you’re not alone. Accounting can be a solid career; it pays the bills with a job security that’s hard to beat. But let’s face it: it can also be as monotonous as watching paint dry. You might not hate numbers, but the thought of crunching them in the same old way until retirement sends you into a daydream about what else is out there.

I’ve been there, trust me. Otherwise, I would have named this website ‘Happy Accountant’. This article is for those ready to step beyond the traditional accounting role and into something new, without letting go of the valuable skills and mindset we’ve worked hard to acquire in our accounting careers. 

No. 1 – Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A)

Transferable Skills: Switching from accounting to Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) is like going from being a history expert to a fortune teller. If you already know a lot about numbers from accounting, you can use that in FP&A to help a company plan its future. It’s less about digging through what’s already happened and more about playing a big part in plotting the future. You get to take all those numbers and turn them into smart guesses about what’s coming next, helping the company make well-informed decisions.

Up the Career Ladder: Here’s a juicy bit: if you dream of a fat paycheck and a fancy job title, moving into finance can be your golden ticket. Sure, accountants can aim high and get some sweet titles too, like VP Controller or CAO, but everyone knows the CFO is the rockstar of the finance world. It’s a chance to aim higher and possibly land a more prestigious position.

Business Impact: In FP&A, you’re not stuck in your own little world; you’ll work with many different departments across the company, sharing stories and helping drive the business forward. This means you have more influence and can see the direct impact of your work on the company’s success. Plus, let’s be honest, it’s kind of a thrill to see your predictions turn into real profits. 

Salary range: $72,141 (Analyst) – $557,194 (CFO), according to salary.com

No.2 – Internal Audit

From Numbers to Risk Management: As an internal auditor, you’re the guardian of the company’s processes and governance. You ensure that everything in accounting and finance is secure and managed with minimal risk. Instead of number-crunching, you’ll put on your detective hat and focus on risk. It’s a whole new angle on finance – looking for what could go wrong before it actually does, which keeps your day-to-day job interesting.

Transferable Knowledge: You are not saying bye to your accounting knowledge; as a qualified internal auditor, you need to understand how the number flows. It’s a big plus to already know the systems and accounting process you’re checking.

Advisory Role: You’ll have the expertise to advise management on how to fix issues before they turn into big problems. This means your work is really valued, and you can see the changes you suggest get put into action.

Salary Range: $48,000 (Staff) – $319,410 (SVP Audit), according to Robert Half and salary.com.

No.3 – Management Consulting

From Numbers to Consulting: Here are a few reasons why accountants can become superstar management consultants:

  • Financial Insight: As an accountant, you’re used to diving into financials and understanding them fast. This is a huge plus in management consulting, where you need to analyze a company’s financial health quickly to give good advice. For instance, in merger and acquisition scenarios, your ability to evaluate financial statements can uncover potential issues or benefits that others may overlook, influencing the outcome of high-stakes deals.
  • Cost-Cutting Strategy: You know how to find financial efficiencies from your time in accounting, which translates well into consulting. You might help a company identify where they can cut costs without harming their operations, directly affecting their profitability.
  • Regulatory/Accounting Compliance: With your background, you’re familiar with the maze of financial regulations companies must navigate. In management consulting, you could guide firms through these regulations more strategically, such as whether certain costs can be capitalized vs. expensed or whether there are risks of setting up offshore subsidiaries.

Excellent exit opportunities: If you’re an accountant and switch to management consulting, you’re opening up many new job paths for yourself. You can help big companies plan their future, get into top roles like a company’s CEO, or help decide on big-money investments. This experience can also take you into running the day-to-day operations of a company, working with tech products, or even making big decisions in government or non-profits. In conclusion, it really opens up the career horizon.

Just a note: Moving into management consulting might require extra effort, like earning an MBA, and the competition is tough, especially with big-name firms. But your accounting expertise gives you a running start, especially when it comes to understanding and advising on financial matters. It’s a challenging transition, but for those who are up for it, the rewards and opportunities in management consulting are significant.

Salary Range: $80,219 (Analyst) – $377,827 (Partner), according to ZipRecruiter and salary.com. Note we are not even talking about the big firm partners who can earn up to $1M or more.

No.4 – Personal Financial Advisory

Direct Application of Knowledge: All those years spent dealing with numbers aren’t wasted. You’re all set to guide folks on handling taxes without the headache, the best place to park the cash, and the best ways to save for retirement. You can also explain complex tax regulations or the implications of financial decisions with ease, which is exactly what many clients need from a personal financial advisor.

Building Relationships: You will meet people from all backgrounds, each with unique financial goals. This variety will keep your day-to-day job interesting and expand your own understanding of the financial landscapes and personal goals. This is not to discredit the relationship built between traditional accountants and their clients. But I think it’s reasonable to assume accounting conversations are often limited to tax savings or how to stay out of trouble, which tends to be less inspirational.

Salary Range: $44,100 – $208,000, according to Recruiter.com.

No.5 – College Lecturer/Professor

Teach What You Know: By teaching, you get to use all the accounting knowledge you’ve gathered over the years to show students how it all works in the real world — beyond just theories and textbook examples. It’s a rewarding way to give your skills a new life and inspire the next generation.

Giving back: Teaching is also a way to give back. There’s something special about guiding the next generation of accountants and getting them excited about debits and credits (even if they are not that exciting). Jokes aside, it’s a chance to shape the future of the profession and, in a broader sense, to contribute to society by educating those who will be vital to the world of finance and business operations.

A New Pace: Stepping into teaching means you can leave behind the high stress of corporate jobs. No more 60-hour weeks, no more endless review comments. College schedules can give you more time for yourself and less work stress.

Just a note: Keep in mind that being a college lecturer often comes with its own set of educational prerequisites. So do a little homework to see if you’ve got the right qualifications or if you’re ready to go back to school to get them. 

Salary Range: $37,401 (Lecturer) – $255,249 (Professor), according to Indeed and salary.com.

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5 Best Jobs for Accountants Who Don't Want to Be Accountants - Infographic

Conclusion

We’ve gone over some really exciting job paths you can take right from where you are. If you don’t want to leave the corporate world, FP&A and Internal Audit are excellent transition choices. If you like to advise others, you can try management consulting or become a personal financial advisor. And for those who love the idea of teaching, becoming a lecturer could be your way to pass on your knowledge and make a tangible difference.

Bottom line: Your days of doing taxes or making journal entries are far from a waste. Here are five solid options for accountants seeking new ventures, and I bet there’s a whole bunch more out there where your accounting experience can kick open new doors.

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