Accounting Executive: Job Description and Education Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an accounting executive. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and additional training to find out if this is the career for you.

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Accounting executives support the financial goals of an organization by ensuring effectiveness of accounting activities. This often includes financial reporting and management of internal controls. A bachelor's degree and continued training is typically required.

Essential Information

Accounting executives supervise a company's financial procedures. Entry-level work in this field typically requires a bachelor's degree in economics, accounting, business administration, or finance. Someone who enjoys math, business, statistics, and management may enjoy this type of career. Accounting regulations and tax codes change often, so accounting executives need to stay updated or obtain continued education in the field.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in economics, accounting, business administration, or finance
Other Requirements Continuing training as finance regulations change
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 7% (financial managers)
Median Salary (2015)* $117,990 (financial managers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Job Description for Accounting Executives

O*Net Online states that accounting executives working for public and private sector businesses supervise a company's financial habits and spending procedures. Accounting executives instruct financial teams, such as accounting and acquisitions, regarding procedural reporting practices in order to maintain a constant watch on budgetary concerns. As part of an executive staff, accounting executives report their departments' progress to a committee or a senior staff member, usually a financial controller or financial executive. Depending on the type of business, accounting executives generally oversee a large group of financial departments, devise new procedures to help cut costs and implement protocols.

Job Duties

Each industry provides a different set of duties, but common shared tasks among accounting executives include:

  • Using accounting software to create spreadsheets and reports
  • Drafting summary reports concerning key issues upper executives need to review
  • Assigning projects to departments and overseeing productivity
  • Verifying that all accounting related departments follow company protocol
  • Presenting accounting issues and results to executive committees and upper management

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (BLS), places accounting executives within the larger category of financial managers. The BLS points out the close connection between accounting executives and commerce industries, such as risk and insurance managers.

For those working in the stock market or other investment firms, accounting executives might be expected to oversee teams creating reports about the market, converse daily with investment bankers about the pattern of stock prices and deal directly with floor traders to buy or sell commodities and services. On the spot decisions could result in saving or losing millions, creating a high stress environment with the potential for immense financial gain.

Educational Requirements for Accounting Executives

Most employers require a bachelor's degree in fields such as economics, accounting, business administration or financing. Some employers only require a high school diploma and offer a significant amount of on-site training. Many firms host continuous training for accounting executives on topics such as customer service, new stock market regulations and accounting software updates, but such highly focused training may only apply to one particular employer.

According to the BLS listing for top executive positions, many corporations expect their executives to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree, but most companies prefer a Master of Business Administration (MBA). The BLS states that executives and financial agents with an MBA tend to possess a more focused knowledge on current business procedures due to the legitimate real world experiences found in an MBA program.

Career Outlook and Salary Stats

The BLS predicts that positions for financial managers will grow at a slower than average rate of only 7% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS reported that the median annual salary for financial managers was $117,990 as of May 2015.

Accounting executives oversee accounting processes and procedures to ensure the financial health of an organization. A bachelor's degree in a related field is typically required, but many companies prefer an MBA. Accounting executives must participate in continued education to keep up with ongoing changes to accounting regulations and tax codes.

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