13 Different Types of Accountants

An accountant computing and checking financial charts.

We celebrate the International Accounting Day every 10th of November so it’s only fitting that we take a closer look at the world of accountancy. The word accountant comes from the French word compter or computare which means “to count” or “to score.”

It’s considered among the ten safest jobs in the world while the employment rate of accountants is expected to grow 11 percent from 2011 to 2024. Young certified accountants earn an average of $30,000-$40,000 while tenured or top-level accountants earn as much as $200,000 every year.



Auditors discussing financial reports presented on computer.

All businesses need to make sure their accounting records are precise and accurate, and this is the number-one job of an auditor. Auditors can be hired from a private company or come from within the organization, in which case they are called internal auditors. Auditors make sure businesses’ records are efficient, which includes making sure they pay their taxes properly and on time.

They work with corporate clients, individuals, governmental facilities, and nonprofit organizations, among others. They go over all reports and records with a fine-toothed comb, and they analyze, verify, and prepare all types of financial documents to make sure that particular business doesn’t get into trouble with the IRS.

In short, auditors are there to make sure your accounting records are accurate and legal. They inspect a business’s books, thoroughly examine all of its financial statements, assess its operations, and organize its fiscal records. An auditor usually makes recommendations for improvement whenever necessary, and in fact, many of them specialize in a certain industry or business type, making them true experts in their field.


Consultants analyzing financial data presented on a tablet.

Accounting consultants are experts in all aspects of a business because they are there to advise and assist you on anything related to accounting that can help you grow your business. They can prepare financial reports, analyze and interpret all types of financial data, manage your organization from the inside, and help you with all statutory and regulatory laws and requirements.

This includes preparing tax documents, making recommendations regarding tax decisions, and making sure all documents and reports are maintained properly so that you won’t get in trouble with the law. From tax assistance to well-maintained audits and much more, a good consultant can help your business more than you think. If you need any type of accounting assistance for your business, accounting consultants are there to help.

Cost Accountants

Cost accountant reviewing financial charts.

With any business out there, even nonprofit organizations, holding down costs is crucial. After all, no business wants to run out of money and have to close down their facility. When you are reviewing every cost you’re incurring, it helps to have the assistance of a professional cost accountant because this person goes over every single detail of every expense you have on your books in order to make sure they do not get out of hand. Even nonprofits need to watch their bottom line, and a cost accountant goes over everything in detail so that you always know where you stand financially.

Cost accountants conduct profitability analyses and budget preparations, and they document the costs associated with shipping, administrative costs, labor, materials, production, and much more. They compile this information and communicate with the managers and supervisors at your company in order to present a picture of where your costs are going.

They also make recommendations to cut your costs so that your business can run more profitably. Regardless of the type of business you have, this is an important feat, and it is one that professional cost accountants specialize in.

Fiduciary Accountants

Fiduciary accountant computing estate finances.

If you are put in charge of accounts or finances that benefit another person, this is a fiduciary accounting responsibility. The job title can be broken down into several categories, including estate accounting, receivership, and trust accounting.

Job responsibilities as a fiduciary accountant include clearly showing gains and losses, stating all accounts in a concise manner, summarizing its content and purpose, complete and thorough documentation of each and every transaction, detailing both current and carrying values, and making sure all interested parties are aware of all transactions which may affect the administration of the accounts.

As with most other types of accounting, fiduciary accounting requires expert accuracy and precision, because it isn’t that uncommon for these records to be under the scrutiny of the courts or even the IRS. In other words, everything has to be exact, and in perfect order 100% of the time.

Financial Advisors

A financial advisor discussing financial plans with his couple clients.

Financial advisors do much more than help people prepare for retirement. They provide expert advice on investments and various financial planning tasks to businesses, individuals, and even governmental entities. They not only help people save for the future, but they help them live better in the present. Financial advisors offer advice on stocks and bonds, 401K plans, IRAs, specialized savings plans for college and other needs, and even your personal finances and your budget.

In fact, when it comes to your overall financial health, a good financial advisor is there to help with every aspect of it, and the fees they charge are more than reasonable. To be successful with your finances, it is recommended that you meet with your financial advisor regularly, at least once a year, so that you can remain aware of what your finances look like at any given time.

Planning your financial future on your own can be very difficult, but a professional financial planner makes the task much easier. These people help you stay on track so that your financial goals are easier to meet, and if there comes a time when your finances don’t look as good as you think they should, your financial planner can help you alter your goals so that in the end, you will be successful and comfortable for the rest of your life.

Forensic Accountants

Magnifying glass and pen on top of financial report.

Forensic accountants are much like detectives, and their number-one goal is to detect fraud in accounting records. They use investigative, auditing, and basic accounting skills to assist the court systems in various criminal and civil proceedings. Also called investigative auditors or forensic auditors, they usually investigate white-collar crimes such as embezzlement, securities fraud, and bankruptcies. They can also investigate outright fraud, omissions, and various types of errors, whether intentional or unintentional.

Forensic accountants analyze all types of financial data to make sure everything is compliant with the laws and standards set by the government and other entities. If you’re interested in being a forensic accountant, it helps if you love numbers, have a natural curiosity and an interest in investigative techniques, and you are detail-oriented. Forensic accountants are often called in as expert witnesses in various court proceedings, so their work must always be 100% accurate at all times.

Government Accountants

A government accountant auditing income tax return.

Because there are many forms of government, there are also many types of government accounting. These include district, city, county, state, and of course, federal government accountants.

Like most other businesses and organizations, governments hire accountants to keep track of their money. In these cases, this task is even more important than it is in other types of businesses because governments deal with money which comes from the public, which means keeping track of that money is especially important.

The main duty of a professional government accountant is to make sure taxpayers’ hard-earned money is spent wisely. However, they also help various agencies plan out their fiscal year so that goals are met to help them achieve their financial goals, which are often set by the government.

Government accountants can also audit private businesses and individuals, and some of them are employed by governmental agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS.

Investment Accountants

Investment accountants discussing business finances.

Often hired by asset-management or brokerage firms, investment accountants specialize in a variety of investment vehicles, including stocks and bonds, currencies, ETFs, precious metals, and many others. The investment and finance fields are fast-paced, and investment accountants need to also keep up with every type of investment and all of its most current rules and regulations.

Their main goal is to maintain the investments of their clients while also making sure they pay close attention to the various state regulations that they must adhere to. Like many other accounting fields, this job requires more than just a bachelor’s degree and must include advanced training and certification.

Management Accountants

A management accountant analyzing the company's financial report.

In order to make sound financial and management decisions, the leaders of a business or organization need to know their company’s current financial picture so that they can determine what to do next. This knowledge directly affects their strategic decision-making abilities, which is why they often hire management accountants. These accountants ascertain important information that helps leaders make sound financial decisions that always affect the future of the company.

Management accountants’ tasks include budgeting and planning, profitability analyses, external financial reporting, and risk management, among others. In order to do this job well, you need very technical accounting skills, as well as great organizational skills. The latter is necessary so that you can organize and present your results in a way that the leaders of the organization can understand them, which is imperative if they want to proceed from there.

Project Accountants

Project accountants discussing company's finances.

Project accountants work on a project-by-project basis. Whatever the project consists of, these accountants oversee anything that can affect the overall cost of the project. This includes collecting and preparing invoices, approving all small and large expenses, maintaining and planning budgets, making sure all deadlines are met, and verifying all of the employees’ billable hours.

These accountants can work on projects that include everything from the construction of a brand new facility to the launch of a new product. They typically work with project managers and other managers throughout the entire project, which means interpersonal and communication skills are a must.

Public Accountants

Charts and eyeglasses on a wooden table along with a laptop screen containing CPA text.

Public accountants are upper-level accountants who most often work in private practice or for an accounting firm. Their tasks include tax and financial planning, auditing services, consulting, and advice regarding benefits and compensation. The main requirement to work in this field is the certified public accountant (CPA) certification. This means passing the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, which is a must for this type of work.

Many people think that CPAs only help people with their taxes, but they do far more than this. They are advisors, financial planners, and fiscal experts, so their tasks can include everything from basic consulting to litigation services and audits to even forensic accounting. They provide numerous services to both individuals and businesses, and these services can both save you money now and help you prepare for a better financial future.

Staff Accountants

Staff accountant checking on financial reports in her laptop.

Staff accountants are the generalists of the accounting field. Nearly every business out there has a need for at least one staff accountant, and these professionals can do everything from performing account reconciliations to supervise clerical employees, as well as maintaining general accounts and performing basic cash-management tasks.

Unless your business is specialized, a good staff accountant can usually handle your accounting functions, and it is a great job for people right out of college because you get great experience in a wide variety of accounting functions.

If you work at a small business, you might be tasked with basic bookkeeping duties, whereas larger companies may require more supervisory duties. The tasks you’re assigned vary greatly from company to company, and if you’re interested in general accounting duties that enable you to gain valuable experience in many different areas, choosing a staff accountant position can help you do just that.

Tax Accountants

A man in his business attire writing the text

As the name suggests, tax accountants are experienced in the field of taxation. The U.S. Department of Treasury allows tax professionals to represent taxpayers in areas that include collections, audits, and appeals, mostly through the IRS.

Their tasks include the completion of tax returns, examination of books and accounting records, determination of how much taxes are owed to the government, and making sure those taxes are paid on time. Tax accountants are generally paid well, and their knowledge is priceless because the tax laws tend to change from year to year, which means there are millions of people out there who need the assistance of one of these professionals.

What You Need to Be a Professional Accountant


Auditors need a degree in Accounting, but if you choose to further your education and obtain an auditing certification, this will increase your odds of getting a great job in auditing.


In most cases, a bachelor’s degree in Accounting is the only requirement to become an accounting consultant. However, if you specialize in a certain type of business – for example, nonprofit organizations – your assistance will be in even greater demand.

Cost Accountants

To be a cost accountant, a bachelor’s degree in Accounting or Finance is necessary. You also have to be strong in math and statistics, as numbers are even more important in this area of accounting than they are in many others. In addition, going further in your education is highly recommended, so if you are a CPA or you are certified as a Certified Cost Accountant (CCA), your chances of getting a job in this field are going to increase dramatically.

Fiduciary Accountants

Because of the detail-oriented aspect of this job, a certified public accountant, or CPA, should be in charge of all fiduciary accounting tasks. This includes a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a CPA certification. It is definitely not a job for an inexperienced or non-specialized accountant.

Financial Advisors

A financial advisor usually has a bachelor’s degree in either Accounting, Finance, Economics, or Business. The laws regarding financial advisors vary from state to state, so it is possible that you may need additional education or certification before becoming involved in this field. It is recommended that you check out the requirements in your own state before proceeding if this job interests you.

Forensic Accountants

A forensic accountant usually has both a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a CPA certification. However, to increase your odds of working in this field, it is recommended that you also obtain certification as a Certified Fraud Examiner or CFE.

Government Accountants

Government accountants must have at least a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. Many of these professionals also have master’s degrees in areas such as taxation, accounting, business administration, or finance. Advanced education past the bachelor’s level, therefore, is always recommended.

Investment Accountants

Most investment accountants have bachelor’s degrees in either Accounting, Economics, Finance, or Business. Many of them also obtain a CPA certification and maybe even the Personal Financial Specialist, or PFS certification, in order to do their job their absolute best.

Management Accountants

Management accountants usually have a bachelor’s degree in Accounting, as well as certification in the field, which means becoming a Certified Management Accountant, or CMA.

Project Accountants

Most project accountants have a bachelor’s degree in either Business or Engineering. They should also have a detailed knowledge of change-order documents and project contracts, as well as great writing and communication skills. Most project accountants also have a minimum of three years of experience related specifically to project accounting.

Public Accountants

Certified public accountants need to obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school or university, as well as certification in their field, which comes in the form of a CPA certificate. The CPA certification is a must if you want to work as a public accountant.

Staff Accountants

Staff accountants typically only need a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. These jobs are often entry-level jobs, so many staff accountants are right out of university. This doesn’t mean that you can’t make a career out of being a staff accountant, because many people do just that. All types of businesses need staff accountants.

Tax Accountants

A bachelor’s degree in Accounting is required to be a tax accountant, but it helps if you further your education and obtain the CPA certification. In addition, the more tax-related courses you take while earning your degree, the better your prospects of finding a job in this field will be.

Interesting Facts About Accountants

They Have an Important Place in History

In the 1930s, it was professional accountants with the IRS who brought down Al Capone. Although he was known to be guilty of murder, bootlegging, and many other additional crimes, he was ultimately charged with tax evasion and spent eight years in jail. He died in 1947.

Infamous Accountants

There are many celebrities who worked in the field of accounting before becoming famous. These include Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, musician Kenny G, comedian Eddie Izzard, author John Grisham, and comedian Bob Newhart.

The Academy Awards Relies on Professional Accountants

Ever since the mid-1930s, professional accountants count the ballots for the Oscars by hand so that the final count is accurate. This takes approximately 1700 hours, but it is done by a team of accountants so not just one person participates.

What Is a Bubblegum Accountant?

It was an accountant who invented bubble gum. In 1928, one Walter Diemar invented the bubble gum that we are all familiar with today, and the reason he dyed it a pink color is that it is the only color dye he had on hand at the time.

Interesting Spelling Fact

Bookkeeping (and the words derived from this word) is the only word with three consecutive sets of double letters. No other word can make that claim.

Accounting Is a Very Old Profession

Accounting has been around for approximately 7000 years. Clay tokens from ancient Mesopotamia – or modern-day Iraq, Syria, and Turkey – have been discovered, and they are thought to be the earliest proof of the way various goods were traded and received.

The Origins of Accounting

Luca Pacioli, an Italian mathematician, is known as the father of accounting. In the late 1400s, Pacioli published a book – the very first – on double-entry accounting. Interestingly, Leonardo da Vinci was actually one of Pacioli’s students.

The Very First CPAs

The CPA exam was first given in New York in 1896, and three years later the first female accountant gained the certification. Her name was Christine Ross, and she catered to people in the fashion industry and general businesses.

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