What are the different accounting career options?

  • 28-06-22
  • Louise Kelly

The accounting profession offers many diverse career paths with a wide range of specialisations available to choose from, giving you the flexibility to follow your passion and tailor a career that suits you.

Richard Lloyd Accounting Recruitment is dedicated not just to connecting applicants with outstanding accounting job opportunities, but to helping you at every step of your career. We know that there is plenty of incredible opportunities available to those with an accounting degree, a head for finance, and the drive to succeed.

If you’re just starting out or looking to change accounting career paths, here are four branches of accounting that may interest you, the skills you’ll need for each, and the types of roles that fit into the particular branch.

Technical accounting

Technical accounting uses advanced technical software and skills to record, monitor and oversee accounting processes in banks, insurance companies and other organisations. Technical Accountants research and analyse financial data for financial accounting, regulatory reporting, auditing and managing taxes.

Your role might include preparing specialised financial reports, making recommendations to accounting teams, establishing new accounting policies or implementing financial software systems.

If you have a love of technology, technical accounting can offer an incredible career. So, what other traits do you need?

For Technical Accountants, it’s important to be detail-oriented and process-driven. You’ll need both a sound knowledge of accounting procedures – sometimes in a specialised field such as insurance or tax, and in-depth knowledge of software systems.

Technical Accountants understand accounting practices inside and out and are always on top of statutory reporting guidelines. Staying abreast of new technology will also help you excel in this field.

Some of the possible roles in technical accounting include Auditor, Financial Accountant, Tax Accountant, Forensic Accountant, Group Accountant, and Corporate Accountant.

Operational accounting

As the name suggests, operational accounting relates to business operations. The role of an Operational Accountant is to plan, implement and oversee the entire company’s accounting processes.

Operational accounting includes both cost and systems accounting. Where a Financial Accountant focuses on external reporting to shareholders or the Australian Taxation Office, Operational Accountants instead look primarily at company performance.

By assessing sales, debts, asset appreciation and depreciation, as well as running costs, Operational Accountants look for ways to improve the overall financial efficiency of a business.

To build a career as an Operational Accountant, you’ll need to have a keen eye for detail, along with the ability to see how those details fit into the big picture. You’ll need the ability to break down figures into separate components, possess excellent analytical skills, and be an effective communicator as you’ll be dealing with external and non-finance stakeholders. An aptitude for understanding operations and key business drivers is also a must.

Some of the possible roles in operational accounting include Cost Accountant, Systems Accountant, Company Accountant, and Treasury Accountant.

Analytical accounting

While analysis is a component of all forms of accounting, there’s also a specialised branch dedicated specifically to analytical accounting. This branch focuses on the financial component of project management within an organisation, relying on collated data to determine how, when, and why a business spends and receives money – then using this information to encourage business growth.

An Analytical Accountant's job description might include collating and analysing financial figures to assess the potential of new products and services, identifying new business partners or using findings in data to determine additional development opportunities.

Strategy is central to analytical accounting, so in addition to being detail-oriented and tech-savvy, you need to be able to think creatively and critically. Ideally, you’ll have strong Excel and modelling skills, be focused on company growth, and be able to translate and present complex analyses for a range of non-finance stakeholders.

Some of the possible roles in analytical accounting include Management Accountant, Financial Analyst, FP&A, and Business Analyst.

Commercial accounting

Commercial accounting is central to financial performance and risk management. Commercial Accountants are responsible for the smooth running of organisational accounts, and for driving commercial outcomes including pricing, tendering, and contract management.

As a Commercial Accountant, your duties might include preparing financial reports such as balance sheets and ledgers, responding to financial anomalies and completing financial modelling.

You’ll also be working with both internal and external stakeholders, so having advanced communication and negotiation skills will put you in good stead. You’ll need to understand and report on contracts, and fundamentally, know the commercial impacts of your accounting decisions.

Good Commercial Accountants are also adaptable. The finance world is constantly changing, so it’s essential to keep the organisation you work for on top of shifting market conditions, regulations and compliance.

Another essential skill of the Commercial Accountant is their expertise in technology. As a Commercial Accountant, you will use niche accounting software for daily accounting and to ideally find new and improved financial processes.

Some of the possible roles in commercial accounting include Commercial Analyst and Commercial Manager.

Building a rewarding career

In order to forge a rewarding career path, ensure that you not only consider your skills and technical suitability for a role but also examine your interests and long-term goals to find the accounting career that best suits you. Skills can be built upon and degrees can be earned, so it is important to take into account what type of role you’ll enjoy and what type of role you’ll feel most comfortable in. 

With plenty of career options for accounting degree holders, it can be difficult to identify which path is right for you.

If you’re looking to take the next step in your career, or want to discuss our current vacancies in Sydney, contact us to speak with one of our Accounting Recruitment experts.