Accountants have a unique and highly coveted skill set – not everyone is skilled at analyzing data and working with finances. However, it’s possible that the role you’ve been traditionally doing may no longer be challenging or exciting. If that’s the case, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s okay to grow out of your role and to pursue something different, even if that career move may appear non-traditional or be different than what you envisioned when you entered the field.
Oftentimes people — especially those who have been in one field for the majority of their professional lives — think there is one straight and narrow career path available to them. This may make them feel like their career options are finite. What they may not realize, though, is all of the skills and unique insights they’ve obtained from their experience and how those can be transferred to a new opportunity.
The hard, analytical and organizational skills that most successful accountants possess are transferrable to multiple roles and industries. Additionally, through servicing clients from various industries, many accountants have familiarity and understanding of industries different from their own. Highlighting these unique traits and experiences on a resume and in interviews can position you for opportunities you might not have previously considered.
So you may ask yourself: What can I do with my accounting degree and years of experience when I want a new challenge? Below are five nontraditional careers for accountants to consider:
1. Business Operations Manager: A business operations manager analyzes data from multiple departments to help companies see how different initiatives work together and ultimately streamline operations. In this role, you have the opportunity to work with several departments and analyze business financials, but it’s not focused just on crunching numbers. Drawing on your background in accounting and your experience working with company data and other metrics, moving to operations will help you make sound financial decisions for the organization.
2. Fraud Investigation: Accountants tend to be very analytical in nature. They love to solve problems and have an eye for inconsistencies, making them excellent fraud investigators. If you’re interested in the forensic accounting field, consider exploring roles in litigation support and investigative accounting settings. There are opportunities to be employed by public accounting firms’ forensic accounting divisions or by firms specializing in risk consulting and forensic accounting services. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, demand for forensic accountants is rapidly increasing due to society’s heightened awareness and growing intolerance of fraudulent activity.
3. Recruiter: If you’re looking for a role where you can interact with others and use more of your soft skills, a career in recruiting might be for you. It takes specialized knowledge of the job requirements to hire the best person for accounting roles. Being a recruiter with an accounting background can help you and your team recruit the right talent in record time. Using your accounting background, you will likely know how and where to find qualified candidates and will have a better understanding of how their relevant experience applies to the role. In this job, you’ll act as the middleman between the candidates you’re interviewing and the hiring managers, allowing you to see both sides of the interview process and make the perfect placement because you understand how accounting teams function.
4. Nonprofit Accounting: If you are passionate about a certain cause or initiative, getting involved in nonprofit work may be the best path forward in your career. Nonprofit organizations need people in their finance and accounting departments just like any other company, but they come with the added benefit of promoting a charitable cause. Most nonprofits elect a treasurer or financial officer to manage all of the organization’s finances, and that person needs accounting experience to do their job properly. Nonprofits can provide more flexibility than other for-profit businesses, as they sometimes have a flatter organizational structure that can open up exciting growth opportunities. Even as an accountant, you can gain valuable experience from working with different departments and jumping in to support new tasks outside your regular duties.
5. Communications Strategist: Communications experts are crucial to any business. While communications professionals wear many hats on a daily basis, a great communications strategist is skilled at distilling complex concepts into digestible takeaways. Accounting is a data-driven occupation, which can help you deliver data-driven insights that provide rigor and structure to communication plans. If you’re interested in transitioning into the communications field, it’s wise to sharpen your writing skills. Some ways to practice these skills include sharing your industry views on LinkedIn, your own blog or even contributing to your current company’s blog.
If you’re interested in making a career change, consider exploring these five professions that build upon your valuable skills but provide a new challenge. Your accounting degree, certifications and real-world experience are incredibly useful resources that could help you make an impact in various roles and types of organizations. If you’re interested in venturing beyond your comfort zone and exploring non-traditional career paths that truly align with your interests and experience, think about how to showcase and put your transferrable skills to use.