Ten Careers in Managerial Accounting

Most students choose accounting careers because of the consistently high hiring demand for accountants. In its Occupational Outlook Handbook, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected 16-percent growth for accountants and auditors between 2010 and 2020.

The starting salaries aren’t bad, either. Cost accountants’ starting salaries with large companies are projected to range between $43,000 and $53,750 per year, according to the 2013 Salary Guide published by Robert Half. According to the same study, cost accounting managers are projected to earn between $79,250 and $108,500 in 2013.

All the salaries given here are starting salaries of accountants working for large companies (sales in excess of $500 million) and come from the Robert Half salary guide. These salaries vary by location.

In case you’re curious, St. Louis, Missouri, has a salary index of about 100. If you’re looking to work in St. Louis, these salaries should be on target. New York City boasts the highest salary index, 141, so salaries there should be 41 percent higher. Chicago’s salary index is 123, and Los Angeles’ salary index is 125.

On the other hand, El Paso, Texas, has a salary index of just 70 (meaning salaries there are about 30 percent lower).

Corporate treasurer

The coveted position of treasurer is the career summit that management accountants aspire to. Treasurers take responsibility for all financial activities within a corporation, including managing liquidity risk, managing cash, issuing debt, hedging foreign exchange and interest rate risk, securitizing, overseeing pension investments, and managing capital structure.

The corporate treasurer typically sits on the corporation’s board of directors and chairs its finance committee but is usually not involved in day-to-day operations. A treasurer of a large company can expect to earn between $278,000 and $422,000 per year in 2013.

Chief financial officer

The chief financial officer, or CFO, runs all corporate finance functions on a day-to-day basis. The CFO acts as steward of the company’s assets, minimizing risk and making sure that the books and financial statements are correct. The CFO also needs to run an effective and efficient finance operation within the company.

The CFO installs a financial mind-set throughout the organization so that all parts of the business perform better. A CFO of a large company can anticipate earning between $280,500 and $430,250 in 2013.

Corporate controller

Corporate controllers collect and maintain information about all aspects of a company’s finances. They prepare financial statements, budget reports, forecasts, cost-analysis reports, profit and loss statements, recommendations for spending or cost cuts, and SEC reports and supervise other accountants in the company.

They work to ensure that internal controls are in place and working properly, that the financial statements are prepared accurately, and that all of the company’s finances are properly documented. They also make sure that moneys owed to the company are collected and that bills for the company’s expenses get paid.

In a large company, a typical corporate controller can expect to earn between $147,000 and $207,750 in 2013.

Accounting manager

The accounting manager prepares fiscal and budget reports for internal management and financial statements and other reports to stockholders and other external stakeholders. He or she also oversees the development of master budgets and other projections in order to make recommendations to management. An accounting manager at a large company can expect to earn between $77,750 and $109,250 in 2013.

Financial analyst

Financial analysts help to prepare budgets, monitor task performance, keep track of actual costs, analyze different kinds of variances, review contract completion reports, and assist other executives in preparing forecasts and projections. Starting salaries for recent college graduates beginning as financial analysts with large companies are expected to range between $43,750 and $56,250 in 2013. More-experienced financial analyst managers can anticipate earning between $86,750 and $119,750 in 2013.

Cost accountant

Cost accountants accumulate accurate data about the cost of raw materials, work-in-process, finished goods, labor, overhead, and other related manufacturing costs. They also set cost standards, such as how many hours of direct labor or direct materials manufacturing a widget requires.

New college graduates’ starting salaries as cost accountants with large companies are projected to range between $43,000 and $53,750 in 2013. More-experienced cost accounting managers are projected to earn between $79,250 and $108,500 in 2013.

Budget analyst

The budget analyst prepares and administrates the master budget and then compares master budget projections with actual performance. To prepare this information, the budget analyst needs to become intimately familiar with all the operations in the budget and work closely with both cost accountants and production managers working on the plant floor.

Starting salaries for recent college graduates starting as budget analysts with large companies are projected to range between $42,500 and $55,250 in 2013. More-experienced financial analyst managers can expect to earn between $83,250 and $116,500 in 2013.

Internal audit

Internal auditors ensure that various procedures, such as controls over cash and other assets, are working as they should. Internal auditors are often called on to investigate budget variances and are typically the first to look for — and identify — poor work quality, waste materials, fraud, theft, and deliberate acts of industrial sabotage.

Unlike external auditors, the internal auditors work for the very company that they audit. Therefore, they typically report to executives at a very high level in the organization (such as the treasurer). Starting salaries for recent college graduates entering the workforce as internal auditors with large companies are expected to range between $47,500 and $60,250 in 2013. Internal audit managers with more experience can anticipate earning between $93,000 and $132,250 in 2013.

Fixed-assets accountant

A fixed-assets accountant is responsible for keeping records related to a company’s property, plant, and equipment. These folks inspect the property, the plant, and the equipment to verify the accuracy of the books. Furthermore, they oversee the computation of depreciation, as reported in financial statements and tax filings. Salaries for fixed-asset accountants generally range in the same area as for financial analysts.

Cash-management accountant

The cash-management accountant is responsible for cash-related financial operations, including making transfers between accounts, monitoring deposits and payments, reconciling cash balances, creating and following cash forecasts, and abiding by the company’s system of internal controls. Salaries for cash-management accountants are generally in the same range as those for financial analysts.

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