Career Guide: What Can I Do With An Accounting Degree?

Popular Career Profiles

Advice From the Professionals

  • Ben Mulling

    Ben Mulling

    CMA, CPA, CITP; CFO, TENTE Casters

    Education:
    Associate of Science in Accounting from the University of Cincinnati; Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Northern Kentucky University; MBA from Liberty University
    Experience:
    More 10 years of experience in management accounting
    Interesting Fact:
    Mulling became a CFO by the time he turned 28.
    CPA Advice:

    You have to have a schedule for everything. I meet plenty of people who want to get their certification and order all the materials and exercises, but then push the work off. You have to create a schedule and stick to it. Studying basically consumes your life until you get certified, and a lot of people can't handle that. Your life is essentially all accounting every day. You have to spend time in a book every day. If you can't handle that, if you can't stay on that kind of schedule, it's not going to work for you. People I've seen that are successful have the textbooks on their phone, or they carry a backpack filled with their materials around with them all the time. These are the people who will succeed. Earning their certification has been embedded into their daily routine. If you can do that, you too will succeed. I'm confident of that.

  • Chris Benson

    Chris Benson

    CPA; Manager, LK Benson & Company

    Education:
    Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Bucknell University; Master's in Taxation from the University of Baltimore
    Experience:
    Nearly 10 years of experience in personal financial planning
    Interesting Fact:
    Benson met his wife at work, so that takes the cake. But getting to go behind the scenes and tour the Under Armour headquarters was also a highlight. "I get to meet a lot of really interesting people in my job and I find each and every client meeting brings its own interesting experience," he says.
    CPA Advice:

    Don't wait, put your mind to it, and study hard! If you can sit for it early in your career you won't have as many other things going on in life to distract you from your studies. I put life on hold to get through the exam so I would work all day then study all night for months. But it paid off and I was able to pass each exam on the first try and get it over with in no time!

  • Brian McGuire

    Brian McGuire

    CMA, CPA, CBM; Associate Dean and MBA director, University of Southern Indiana

    Education:
    Bachelor of Science in Accounting and MBA from the University of South Alabama; Ph.D. in Accounting from the University of Central Florida
    Experience:
    Nearly 30 years of experience in public accounting, corporate accounting, and education
    Interesting Fact:
    McGuire has served as an expert witness in an Indiana superior court.
    CPA Advice:

    One thing I tell my students, especially undergraduates, is a lot of times they see a degree as a series of courses they need to check off in order to get a diploma at the end. But in professional fields like accounting or medicine or law, you really have to concentrate on the knowledge that is being put forth so that you're learning it and not just trying to check another course off of a list of many. Nobody would want to go to a physician who got their medical degree by memorizing a bunch of terms or situations and then forgetting them by the end of the semester. … The same is true for accountants. You want somebody who really knows what they're talking about.

  • Benjamin Simiskey

    Benjamin Simiskey

    CPA,CFP; Owner, PLS Advisory, LLC

    Education:
    Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Brigham Young University
    Experience:
    More than 10 years of experience, currently focusing on financial planning and investment management for high net-worth individuals
    Interesting Fact:
    I'd say that working in litigation consulting and forensic accounting for a couple of years was extremely interesting. Some of the cases I was fortunate enough to work on involved some very high-profile people and situations. They involved billionaires, mistresses, mysterious deaths, and international fraud. Every day was fascinating.ÿThe hardest part was not being able to tell my friends and family what I was working on!
    CPA Advice:

    I would strongly urge people to be 100% committed to the exam. I've known many friends and colleagues who have given less than 100% and been completely frustrated. It sounds like a cliche, but preparing for the exam is going to be very taxing and will demand your very best effort. Be totally committed. Study ferociously. Read, re-read and memorize. Take as many practice tests and do as many study questions as possible. Then do them again. It's a model that I followed myself, and I was able to pass the exam on my first try (back when you took all four parts at the same time). I'm convinced that it was infinitely better to sacrifice all of my free time and some sleep for a few months and have the exam done than to give it 80% or 50% or 30% and then have the test hang over your head for months (or years) on end.

  • Charlotte M. Jungen

    Charlotte M. Jungen

    CPA, CFP; Shareholder of EKC Advisors, LLP

    Education:
    Bachelor of Business Administration
    Experience:
    15 years of experience in business and personal financial reporting and planning, wealth accumulation, business succession planning, estate, business profitability, and tax planning
    Interesting Fact:
    Jungen serves as the organist/keyboardist at her local Catholic Church.
    CPA Advice:

    It's an academic exam, so start studying for it as soon as you can after college. It's not an impossible exam, but it does require a sacrifice of your time to study for it. It's better to make that sacrifice and study so that you can be done with it as soon as possible rather than just going at it half-heartedly. Pursuing it half-heartedly will just prolong the experience.

  • Diana L. Sullivan

    Diana L. Sullivan

    CPA, CGMA; Controller for the Boy Scouts of America, Capitol Area Council

    Education:
    Bachelor of Science in Administration with a specialty in accounting and finance
    Experience:
    30 years of experience in non-profit accounting management
    Interesting Fact:
    Sullivan loves her clients, and she has been able to work with a variety of people over the years. Her clients have included "an older gentleman with dozens of different oil and gas interests, a famous author whose books are among my favorites, a golfing school, a contractor who built spectacular homes, a family doctor, a couple who won a huge lottery prize, a lady who worked full-time helping AIDS victims, and a dude ranch operator."
    CPA Advice:

    Accounting program grads can certainly pass the exam, which has a fairly high passing rate and is given one section at a time. Passing is just a result of time spent preparing, so don't be intimidated or discouraged. Study for at least a little while every day. Review courses are effective, but only if you do the things the instructors tell you to do to prepare. If you prepare on your own, work lots of actual exam problems.

  • Richard Levychin

    Richard Levychin

    CPA, CGMA; Partner, KBL, LLP

    Education:
    Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Baruch College
    Experience:
    More than 25 years of experience in accounting, auditing, business advisory services, and tax experience working with both privately owned and publicly held entities in various industries including financial services, media, entertainment, sports, real estate, not-for-profit, technology, and professional services
    Interesting Fact:
    As a partner at a major CPA firm working with Fortune 500 companies, entertainment, and sports clients, Levychin has gotten to rub elbows with a lot of big names, including Janet Jackson, Quincy Jones, Spike Lee, Hank Aaron, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Russell Simmons, Bill Clinton, Reverend Al Sharpton, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "The opportunity to meet people that show up in the paper, or have a client you're working on show up in the newspaper, that's fun stuff," said Levychin.
    CPA Advice:

    For the period of time you're studying for it, you pretty much have to shut down your social life. There should be nothing else going on in your life except studying for this exam. Everyone I know who's taken it, their entire sense of self worth was locked into how well they did on this exam. They spent every waking hour studying for this exam. They didn't go out and party or exercise -- they studied for this exam. My advice is to just study, study, study until you pass it. Don't take a break, don't go on vacation, just study. It's also important to understand how to take the exam. If you get stuck on a questions, move along and come back. You have to manage the time you have for each part of the exam.

  • Bill Schneider

    Bill Schneider

    CPA, CGMA; Director of Accounting, AT&T Services, Inc.

    Education:
    Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Accountancy from the University of Georgia Tull School of Accounting
    Experience:
    25 years of experience in internal controls, SEC reporting, technical accounting, and accounting process development
    Interesting Fact:
    When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the company I worked for had the only surviving long distance phone switch in the city. We had to quickly set up processes to allow other telephone companies to use the switch for their customer?s calls at cost rather than at normal wholesale rates. We had to determine what the cost was, set up special credits in the billing system and do several other things so that people could get in touch with their loved ones to make sure they were OK.
    CPA Advice:

    The CPA exam is the hardest test you will ever take, but it is not impossible. Plan out your study routine and get the test done as soon as you can. You only have to pass it once.