What can I do with a major in accounting?

Accountants typically come in two varieties:

  • Those who work within a company's accounting department, who may or may not be Certified Public Accountants, or CPAs.
  • Those who work for public accounting firms, whose business is to look at companies from the outside and ensure that their accounting practices are producing accurate information, both for the sake of the company itself and for individual and institutional investors. These individuals generally become CPAs after four or five years working in public accounting — and passing the CPA exam.


Accountants primarily keep track of things, often money but sometimes a company's physical or human assets. For example, a company's internal accounting department tracks all the firm's activities, including:

  • Purchases of office supplies and other assets
  • Sales of goods and services
  • Payment of employees
  • Management of pensions and benefits compliance with laws


Accounting is especially important in industries that are:

  • Regulated (such as telecommunications, public utilities, etc.)
  • Characterized by high numbers of financial transactions (such as casinos and personal credit issuers like Visa and MasterCard)
  • Both regulated and heavily oriented toward financial transactions (such as stock brokerage, commercial banking, and investment management)

Read about the accounting major at the School of Business.

View salary data for recent KU accounting graduates.

Tips for accounting students

  • Attend the Accounting Career Fair and Business Career Fair held each September to talk with hiring organizations and industry representatives from the accounting industry
  • Join a student organization such as Beta Alpha Psi, Delta Sigma Pi, Tax Club, VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Preparation), Alpha Kappa Psi, or ABWA (American Business Women’s Association).
  • Develop skills including customer focus, problem solving, self-direction, team orientation, analysis, communication skills, critical thinking and high ethical standards.

Top recruiters of KU accounting students

  • KPMG

  • PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)

  • Ernst & Young (EY)

  • Deloitte

  • Grant Thornton

Typical positions/specialized areas

  • Internal auditor

  • Tax associate

  • Audit associate

  • Forensic/investigative accounting

  • IT services

  • Personal financial planning

  • Estate planning

  • Financial reporting

  • Cost accounting

  • Tax planning

  • Budget analysis

  • Record keeping

Additional accounting resources