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Are you someone who wants the very best out of a product or service?
Whether you enjoy working with numbers through calculations and forecasts, prefer to persuade others toward a specific goal, or have a natural acumen for identifying successful innovations, careers in Business + Entrepreneurship offer ample opportunities for the savvy student.
As the backbone of economic activity, people who pursue Business + Entrepreneurship are often driven to increase efficiency and profitability through roles such as finance, accounting, management, sales, real estate, operations, logistics, actuarial science, and quantitative analysis to predict future business models. Learn how you can jump-start your career in Business + Entrepreneurship and reach your highest potential.
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Discover Options: Accounting
For complete information on assessing yourself, choosing majors, and exploring careers, review our starter tips to Discover Options in all careers as well as the specialized tips on this page.
Getting Acclimated to the Accounting Field
With trade records dating back to Mesopotamia, accounting is one of the oldest careers in the world. Working with innovative technology to assess assets, liabilities, and cash flows, accounting has grown exponentially from its original trade accounts to its current services for individuals, major corporations, and governments.
When thinking of modern work in accounting, we may often imagine Excel spreadsheets with endless rows and columns of numbers. Accounting is so much more robust and intricate than this; however, it can become confusing with different job titles and functions. Use this page to learn about what it takes to pursue this lucrative field.
Job Families and Functions
To discover career options in the accounting field with clarity, it is essential to understand the various job titles and functions. All positions perform similar duties at different levels and with various intentions, but a strong sense of the unique aspects of each role will help you identify the area(s) of accounting you are most interested in pursuing.
Click below to explore each area of accounting further.
Auditors examine and analyze records to determine the financial status of an organization. Some auditors (often called internal auditors) work inside of an organization to check for the mismanagement of funds, while others work for outside organizations and review a client’s financial statements, often called external auditors.
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks record data to keep financial records complete by performing calculations and checking accuracy of records. Many individuals within this profession do not have a bachelor’s degree.
Public accounting refers to the practice of providing accounting services to multiple clients as an independent accounting firm or as part of a larger accounting organization. While public accountants serve multiple clients and provide a variety of accounting services, private accountants work exclusively within a single organization to manage its internal financial processes and reporting requirements. There are three primary service lines you can pursue within the public accounting field: There are three primary service lines you can pursue within the public accounting field:
Audit: Ensures that financial statements are materially realistic and involves testing and validating information received from clients.
Tax: Researches tax issues, prepares a client’s taxes, and may advise clients on how to manage transactions and business structure to minimize taxes.
Advisory: Involves other client services such as strategy consulting, valuation, forensic accounting, financial due diligence, and much more.
Most accounting and auditing positions require a bachelor’s degree in accounting. At UCSB, students will major in Economics and Accounting. It is very important to focus on your academics and maintain a strong GPA, as GPA is often one of the most critical criteria that accounting firms use to evaluate students when looking to hire.
If you wish to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), make sure you are on track with your academic requirements because additional units are required for state licensure. For example, in the state of California, additional units are required on top of the minimum 180 units needed to graduate from UCSB. There are numerous programs in which you can participate to acquire these additional units, such as the Strategic Business Program and Summer Accounting Professional Program offered through UCSB Professional and Continuing Education.
If you plan to work in California, review the CPA requirements at the California Board of Accountancy and begin learning about the CPA exam. For requirements outside of California, check out the National Association of State Board Accountancy to determine requirements within the state you plan to work in. Take the time to research when and where the CPA exam is offered.
Many firms expect a majority of your additional units to be completed before you start working full-time. Numerous professionals advise that you take the CPA exam as soon as possible; working full-time and preparing for the exam simultaneously can be challenging, especially during the busy season.
The UCSB Department of Economics office of Career Connection (located in 2119 North Hall) is available to answer specific questions about CPA requirements, related to your academic coursework.
Oftentimes, accounting firms want to know where your career interests lie. By speaking with accounting professionals through what is commonly referred to as an "informational interview," you can determine the line of service (tax, audit, advisory) and location you wish to work in. If you make the most of an informational interview, you can also ask questions to understand different aspects of company culture to see which firms are the best fit for your work style (i.e., Big Four, mid-tier firms, or local firms).
To learn about informational interviews, visit our Career Exploration page. LinkedIn is a great resource in which you can connect with accountants in different locations, companies, and various service lines. Virtual connections allow you to continue your professional relationships and receive advice during your time at UCSB.
Connections you gain through informational interviews can also create a strong network to utilize when searching for an internship or full-time position in the future.
To gain additional information regarding the accounting field, join a professional association to gather insight into the trends and topics that current accountants are focusing on.
Here are two of the most common professional associations:
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