Most accountants find employment in either a corporation or public accounting firm. After years of experience however, some move into management, overseeing the work of other accountants. A handful of these managers move on to senior-level management, which offers the greatest potential for a lucrative salary.
Chief Accounting Officer (CAO) or Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
In corporate accounting, the highest-paid accountant or financial professional is that of a chief accounting officer (CAO) or chief financial officer (CFO). These individuals are senior-level executives responsible for all areas of corporate accounting and/or fiscal management.
Their duties typically include the management and oversight of all accounting and financial departments, such as accounts receivable, accounts payable, budgeting, payroll and auditing. They may also handle all areas of asset and risk management, including real estate, purchasing, contracts and insurance protection.
CAOs or CFOs must have many years of experience in accounting and/or finance. Additionally, they typically hold a bachelor of science degree in accounting, along with either a CPA (certified public accounting) license or master's degree in either accounting, finance or business administration.
Accounting Firm Partner
Public accountants consult with clients on a variety of accounting and financial needs. Firms may specialize in a number of areas such as auditing, tax planning, tax preparation and investment management.
Similar to law firms, accounting firms have senior-level managers or lead partners on staff. These seasoned professionals are the highest paid in accounting firms. They are responsible for the management and oversight of a particular department or area of concentration. This includes securing clients, recruiting and training young talent, departmental budgeting and managing day-to-day operations.
Managing partners must have many years of experience in public accounting. Additionally, they must hold a minimum of a bachelor of science degree in accounting along with a CPA (certified public accountant) license in the state in which they are practicing.
Other High-Paying Accounting Jobs
There are also a number of other jobs that pay very well in the field of accounting. Many of these positions are in management, such as controller (or known as comptroller in nonprofits), finance director, auditing manager and treasurer, while others are more high-tech or specialized accounting functions like forensic accounting, budget analysis, auditing or taxation.
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