Unique CPA career paths

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What are careers related to CPA licensure that aren’t the traditional firm experience? The career path of a CPA can take many different directions. However, most people tend to think of typical CPA career paths, especially accounting careers with a CPA. These include  CPA firm careers, tax preparation services, a financial advisor career path or similar roles. However, the range of career possibilities for CPAs is wider than ever before. Outside of the public accounting career path, CPAs have the ability to work in many different business sectors and in a number of unique roles because of the versatility and usefulness of their skill sets.

Alternative careers for a CPA

As a CPA myself, I’ve met numerous other CPAs who have taken on interesting and fun career paths using their CPA license. Here are just some of the many unique CPA/accountant careers that you may be able to pursue once you obtain your CPA license.

1. Fashion buyer / purchaser

Do you like buying clothes from top retailers and have an interest in the world of fashion? If the answer is yes, the role of fashion purchaser may be the perfect fit for you.  

Accountants in the fashion industry organize the books for major fashion companies and prepare regular financial statements. Fashion buyers specifically buy clothing, shoes and accessories for retail store collections while using their accounting skills to secure the best deal. When negotiating contracts, they have one eye on fashion and the other eye on profit margins.

Accountants in this industry analyze all costs associated with a purchase and keep detailed records to evaluate the best deal for future purchases. If you enjoy following fashion trends, negotiating deals and working with spreadsheets, this may be a couture CPA career path for you.

2. Film production manager

Have you ever wanted to go behind the scenes of a movie and meet with the producer? If you’re interested in cinema and the world of filmmaking, this CPA career path may be your ticket in.

Film production managers meet with movie producers to estimate the cost of making a film and establish a budget. They work with the producer throughout the production of the film to keep track of the budget and to help ensure that all expenses are accounted for and within the budget.

The parameters set by the film production manager largely determine the salaries that directors can offer to the actors in the film and to production staff. Therefore, production managers play an important role in the filmmaking process. If you like being part of the behind-the-scenes action, this might be the right CPA career path for you.

3. Forensic auditor

Do you enjoy piecing together evidence to solve a mystery? If so, you may want to take a closer look at the field of forensic accounting.

Forensic auditors use evidence found in financial documents to establish a paper trail that can help convict financial criminals. They analyze financial data to detect fraud, embezzlement and other illegal activities. They also testify as expert witnesses in cases that involve financial fraud.

Government agencies like the CIA, FBI and the IRS employ forensic auditors to bring criminals to justice. In fact, one of the most notorious criminals of the 20th century, Al Capone, was brought down by the IRS’s criminal investigation department. So, if you like to watch Criminal Minds but you don’t want to spend your life tracking serial killers, a career in white collar crime may be the right career path for you.

4. International tax specialist

Do you like traveling around the world but find it an expensive habit to support? You may want to consider a career as an international tax specialist.

In today’s global economy, most large companies engage in foreign transactions and work with foreign subsidiaries. These companies require the assistance of accountants who can advise them of the tax implications of doing business abroad.

International tax specialists specialize in the rules of doing business internationally and are employed by companies with operations all over the world. This often grants opportunities to travel to countries near and far. International tax specialists advise companies on the best ways to organize operations in a foreign country, and how to reduce the company’s overall tax burden.

These specialists are also employed by Congress, the Treasury Department and the IRS. These government bodies all play a significant role in establishing global tax policy and need good advisors to make sure these policies are being implemented worldwide.

In summary, there are numerous career paths to consider wherein you can use your CPA license. Whether it be in fashion, film, forensics, or other paths, becoming a CPA can open a world of career opportunities that you may have not thought were possible. All you need is determination and a passing grade on all four sections of the exam!

Learn more about being a CPA on the Becker CPA blog.

Ready to pursue the CPA to work in any of these unique careers? Get started with Becker’s CPA Exam Review.

Tara Fisher has been practicing tax for over 20 years. Her professional background includes working for the U.S. Congress Joint Committee on Taxation, the national tax practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the University of Pittsburgh, and American University in Washington D.C. She is a licensed CPA and holds both an undergraduate and graduate degree in accounting from the University of Virginia.

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