Will an Accounting Degree Help me Become a CFO?

It can take up to 20 years before you work your way up from just another member of an accounting department to a chief financial officer, but many find it easier to become a CFO with an accounting degree. A CFO is responsible for almost all financial aspects of a company. They keep an eye on profits and losses, compile detailed financial records that they share with others and oversee those working in the accounting and financial departments. Studying accounting might give you a leg up, but you also need to meet some other requirements and learn more about how much financial officers make.

What Skills Does a CFO Need?

One of the strongest skills that you need to work as a CFO is organization skills. CFOs often need to compile reports that go back years in the past and explain profit margins and other details in simple terminology that others can understand. They also need good managerial skills, which include knowing how to motivate other employees and leading teams of workers. You’ll also need good accounting and finance skills and understand the basics of accounting software, which you can learn in your accounting program.

CFOs Have Years of Experience

If you think that you can work your way up to a CFO spot within a few years, think again. Those working in the field today have at least 10 years of experience, and most employers won’t even look at candidates with less than 15 or 20 years of experience. When you first leave school, gain experience working for larger corporations and businesses. You’ll see how the accounting department operates from the inside, the duties of a CFO and the problems that CFOs face on a daily basis.

Using Your Accounting Degree

It’s often easier to become a CFO with an accounting degree than it is to find work as a CFO with another type of degree. During your accounting program, you have the chance to complete an internship in your area. Your school will often help you find an internship with the local government or a nearby company, and many schools will let you earn additional credit for completing more than one internship. The practical skills that you learn on the job will help you find employment faster than someone without any practical skills. Employers know that you already have some training and that they don’t need to spend time familiarizing you with industry software.

The Future for CFOs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists chief financial officers with other types of chief executives. The BLS found that the bottom 10 percent of all executives made a median wage of more than $75,000 and that the median wage among all executives is $171,610, which indicates a slight growth in the amount made by these professionals. According to the BLS, those working in executive positions typically manage companies, work for the state or local government or work in public and private schools.

Your accounting background gives you a unique perspective that those studying finance don’t possess. You can use that perspective and understanding to work your way up from an accountant to a chief financial officer. Becoming a CFO with an accounting degree might take you years, but your ability to work with accounting programs and methods might help you move up faster.