6 Accounting Titles (With Salaries and Qualifications)

Updated 23 January 2023

The accounting industry comes with a vast number of accounting titles that all offer a unique career experience. Each career comes with its own skill set and specialisation to offer clients the best accounting service possible. Understanding each of the careers differences may help you pick a career that is suited to your skills, qualifications and desires. In this article, we discuss the most common accounting titles, including their primary duties, salaries and what skills an accountant finds most useful.

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What is an accountant?

An accountant is a qualified professional who audits, keeps track of financial information and performs account analysis to provide their client with the most accurate financial information they can. Accountants may work independently, or as part of a wider business and can be instrumental in helping clients meet key financial milestones or organise their money to afford large-scale purchases or taxes.

Accounting encompasses a variety of roles and depending on their accounting title, their responsibilities may vary. Below is a list of an accountant's daily tasks:

  • analysing financial documents to ensure compliance with business or government policy

  • preparing invoices and tax returns

  • giving financial advice to the client, such as reducing cost or savings advice

  • preparing financial reports annually or monthly

  • analysing their client's spending report to adjust their savings and spending goals

  • meeting with new clients to discuss their financial requirements

  • conducting risk analysis reports

  • researching the best investment opportunities for their client

  • forecasting for future financial opportunities


  • What Does an Accountant Do? (And How To Become One)

  • What Is a Management Accountant? Your Guide To This Career

Accounting titles

There are numerous accounting titles in the accountancy field, with each role providing a client with a different specialised service. Understanding the functions of the different accounting titles may simplify your career search and help you find a job that suits your skills. Below is a compilation of some accounting job titles with their salaries:

1. Accountant

National average salary: $74, 478 per year

Primary duties: Accountants deal primarily with financial records for an individual or wider organisation. They can manage a company's financial information, file tax returns, adjust the payroll and strategise company finances for the next financial year. Accountants can specialise in a range of different fields, such as project accountants to tax accounting.

2. Financial analyst

National average salary: $98,268 per year

Primary duties: Financial analysts analyse business investment opportunities. Financial analysts primarily concern themselves with income and profit generation, including how suitable a company is for investment. These professionals conduct stringent risk analysis reports to ensure viability and smart investment decisions. They consult their clients on the correct time to buy and sell the stock for maximum profit. Analysts closely monitor the stock market to minimise risk and sustain profit.

3. Accounting clerk

National average salary: $63, 761 per year

Primary duties: Accounting clerks perform administrative duties like maintaining financial records and data entry and work under the supervision of accountants or business managers. They may work with software to keep track of a business or client's financial information and conduct any vital bookkeeping.

Accounting clerks proofread and provide a secondary analysis of any reports produced to ensure compliance and accuracy. They can work under a multitude of names, such as 'administrative assistant' or 'bookkeeper.'

4. Controller

National average salary: $146,626 per year

Primary duties: Controllers prepare the financial statements and process data for budget preparation or taxes. These professionals are important for a company to stay on top of its accounting activity and maintain compliance with tax and government regulations. Controllers work with the chief financial officer to keep track of where the money goes to and comes from. They may label themselves different, with some known as treasurers or finance managers.

5. Chief financial officer

National average salary: $159, 229 per year

Primary duties: The chief financial officer is in charge of the overall company finances and takes the lead in planning for future projects, delegating where the money goes and aiding with business development decisions and opportunities. The chief financial officer is part of the senior leadership team and is instrumental to a business meeting key milestones and goals. Chief financial officers may adjust a business strategy to adapt to financial climates or company challenges.

6. Auditor

National average salary: $74,297 per year

Auditors work primarily in a payroll setting, preparing and analysing financial records to ensure correct and prompt payment of employees. Auditors proof the work of accountants to ensure financial accuracy, in-depth reporting and compliance. They can specialise in tax or perform more general duties but all essentially conduct the same tasks as an accountant.

How to become an accountant

Understanding the skills and qualifications of an accountant can help determine the correct career path for you. Most candidates find their way to accountancy through education and work experience in the finance or business industry. Here are some steps you can follow to become an accountant:

1. Gain a high-school education

Graduating from high school may help you gain entry to an accountancy or finance course at university. A high school certificate, preferably with a strong Australian Tertiary Admission Rank, can better prepare you for further study and look impressive to a future employer. Candidates who demonstrate a good level of maths and business skills in high school may have an advantage over other candidates.

Related: 12 Commonly Used Accounting Principles

2. Get a bachelor's degree

A bachelor's degree in accounting is the expected qualification for most accounting jobs. An accounting degree equips you with the relevant theoretical knowledge used in the industry. This insight may provide you with a competitive edge in the recruitment process. A degree in business or finance may be useful for a hopeful accountant, as it may provide you with broader knowledge about business processes and policies. Once graduate, consider applying for a Certified Practising Accountant certificate to seek fully qualified status.

3. Gain experience

Following your degree, you may apply for entry-level roles as a graduate accountant or intern. Starting at an entry-level position is a good way to gain first-hand insight into an accountant's daily responsibilities. Any experience provides you with new skills that a future employer may find impressive and separate you from other candidates. After a while, you may progress to positions that require less supervision and more responsibilities and slowly progress to more senior accounting positions.

4. Engage with development opportunities

You may engage with professional development opportunities, like training courses or leadership training, to give you a more competitive edge and harness a new set of skills. Consider taking part in training courses offered at your place of work as they may help you progress to senior positions. Having a membership in professional organisations like the Institute of Public Accountants, can demonstrate professionalism and drive to succeed from an employer's perspective.

5. Gain the skills required

To progress to a role such as Chief Finance Officer, you may require a set of skills that ensure full competency to effectively strategise, analyse and manage a client or company's finances. With experience comes a diverse skill set that allows you to provide a good level of service. Below is a list of skills that an accountant may require:

  • mathematical skills

  • analytical thinking

  • good communication

  • organisation

  • good accounting skills

  • leadership

  • time management

  • technical skills

Related: How to Become A Financial Accountant (With Key Skills)

Frequently asked questions about becoming an accountant

1. Do you have to have a degree to be an accountant?

Employers may expect you to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in accounting. Degrees equip candidates with the theory to conduct basic accounting duties, like bookkeeping. A degree in accounting may supply candidates with a better chance of securing entry-level positions.

2. What qualifications do I require to become a self-employed accountant?

Self-employed accountants may benefit from additional qualifications like a graduate diploma in accounting, complete a certified chartered accountant or certified practising accountant. This may instil more confidence in a client as it shows expertise. These extra qualifications serve as testimony to your skills, but you may also benefit from a portfolio to showcase your skills in action.

3. What accountancy career benefits are there?

Practising accountants can make a comfortable living and work with a variety of people. Accountancy is a reliable career, with a forecast of strong future growth. Having a good understanding of finances and finance strategies is a transferrable skill and may make you a suitable candidate for many jobs, such as sales or marketing.

4. How do I prepare for a career in accountancy?

You can prepare for a career in accountancy by ensuring that you have the relevant formal qualifications and the necessary experience. You can also prepare yourself by working on your mathematical and analytical skills. Consider taking part in any leadership management courses or joining professional bodies to keep up to date with any news within the accountancy industry.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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