How Do I Become a Corporate Accountant?

Maggie Worth

A corporate accountant is a finance professional who works for a company or non-profit organization. To become a corporate accountant, you must obtain a higher education and will likely need a certain amount of related work experience. In addition, you might need to become licensed or certified.

A corporate accountant handles financial records for a company.
A corporate accountant handles financial records for a company.

If you want to become a corporate accountant, you can begin preparing by taking extra math and business classes as early as high school. This is not, however, strictly necessary. After high school, you will want to choose a college or university with a strong accounting program.

At this point, you will need to determine whether you want to earn an actual accounting degree or whether you would prefer a business degree with a concentration in accountancy. Be aware that some employers and graduate schools will prefer an accounting degree. When choosing your college, consider the school's reputation as well as the reputation of its accounting program.

While in college, you will want to take business classes in addition to accounting classes, as these are particularly appropriate for corporate accounting. You may also want to join student organizations and honor societies based around accountancy or business. It generally also is wise to take advantage of internship opportunities to build your experience and, if possible, consider taking a job at an accounting firm or department during breaks or as student employment.

In many cases, you will need an advanced degree to become a corporate accountant. Even if this is not a requirement in your area, such a degree can help you land a higher salary, so you may still want to consider earning one. Choose a graduate program carefully, based on the school's location, reputation and available classes.

Some companies will require you to have accounting experience before you can become a corporate accountant. Experience can be gained through internships and by working as an accounting clerk or in a similar position during college and graduate school. Some people choose to take an accounting position after college and attend graduate school on a part-time basis.

Depending on the company and the industry standards in your part of the world, you may need to be certified or licensed in order to become a corporate accountant. The most common such certification may be the certified public accountant designation. This certification, as with most certifications and licensures, requires you to provide proof of education and to pass a comprehensive examination. In some cases, certifications and licensures must be renewed periodically, and renewal generally requires proof of continuing education.

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