Environmental Staff Accountant. In this job at a large corporation, you’d take a look at all the ways the company could save money by implementing different environmentally-friendly changes. You’d use your findings to convince management that putting in pollution controls or making “greener” products is a good business decision. Environmental accountants help the environment and a company’s bottom line.
Environmental Compliance Analyst. These days, companies, organizations and cities have to deal with a lot of regulations when it comes to their impact on the environment. As the environmental compliance analyst, it’d be your job to make sure your company is obeying all the rules. Is it monitoring its impact on wetlands nearby? Is it paying its taxes on air pollution? You’d help conduct investigations and prepare reports to show that your business is staying green.
Environmental National Accountant. Someone has to keep an eye on our nation’s natural resources (trees, mineral deposits, etc.), since they have a value in our economy. Organizations that do this, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), hire environmental accountants to keep track of natural resources used and the resulting economic impact. The information provided by environmental accountants helps the government create better environmental policies and protect our resources.
Large companies often have environmental accountants on staff, as do accounting firms, government agencies and nonprofits. There aren’t any specific environmental accounting courses in college—but you can double major in environmental science.
The first thing you probably notice about Heather Dunn is the pink. Pink everything. Her whole office is pink. And there’s a good chance she’ll be wearing pink. No kidding.
Of course, you could also think that you walked into the Santa Ana Zoo, what with her pet tarantula Fifi and the “Zoo Ambassador” badge she wears when she volunteers to help zoo visitors encounter animals out of their cages. She’s an assistant in the animal show there as well.
But in her work as a CPA, Heather’s no nonsense. She passed all four parts of the CPA exam on her first try and worked at an international accounting firm before seeking out a slightly smaller company. In college, she started out as a forensic biochemistry major before making the switch to accounting her senior year. She’s also on the board of directors for the American Society of Women Accountants. Heather Dunn really knows her stuff.
“I take the approach that not all accountants are created equally,” she says. “Different people live, learn and grow differently with their own individual strengths and weaknesses.” For Heather, that’s just one more reason that becoming a CPA was the right choice for her. “It’s a consistent job,” she says. “And it provides a lot of flexibility to make it your own.” Just one look at her office and it’s clear that Heather is forging her own unique path in the world of accounting.
“It's a consistent job. And it provides a lot of flexibility to make it your own.”
YEARS AS A CPA: 10
BEST JOB: “Hat writer” at Disneyland
WORST JOB: Carl’s Jr. drive-through attendant
HOBBIES OUTSIDE OF WORK: Volunteering at the zoo, Roller Derby
PETS: Dakota (Siberian Husky), Lulu (Mini Poodle), Mickey (Cat), Toby (Cat), Fifi (Pink Tarantula)
WORDS TO LIVE BY: "Most good judgment comes from experience.Most experience comes from bad judgment."
Lots of high school students earn extra cash in the summertime by mowing yards. Not everyone uses accounting software to manage the bookkeeping side of the job.
“I actually liked the bookkeeping side of my lawn business,” Bryce says. “And in college I had a great professor who showed me all the opportunities that can open up with an accounting degree.” From there, Bryce knew he wanted to be a CPA.
Today, as Assistant Controller, Bryce helps oversee accounting for an electrical contracting firm. “I love being able to help the owners and other executives with day-to-day decision making, and I’m proud that they value my opinion,” he says.
Outside the office, Bryce hardly fits the accounting stereotype. Mountain biking. Wakeboarding. Kiteboarding. Skiing. Hiking. If it takes place outdoors, he’s probably done it. He’s even been a volunteer firefighter for nearly ten years.
Bryce says that being a CPA is a great career choice. “Having a CPA license will ensure good employment opportunities in a booming economy, a stagnant economy, or even a recession. And as a CPA, no matter what business you’re in, you’ll be leagues ahead of the rest.” And if there’s one thing Bryce has learned from all his sports activities, it’s that it’s good to be ahead.
“Having a CPA license will ensure good employment opportunities in a booming economy, a stagnant economy, or even a recession.”
YEARS AS A CPA: 9
BEST JOB: I owned my own lawn mowing business in high school and college. I had a lot of fun, made great money and learned a ton.
WORST JOB: Weeding gardens as a kid to buy my first mower
HOBBIES OUTSIDE OF WORK: Mountain biking, wakeboarding, kiteboarding, hiking, snow skiing, firefighter
PETS: 8-year-old Chocolate lab named “Mocha”
WORDS TO LIVE BY: "Life is a garden dig it!" - Joe Dirt
Be nice to Julia Stoy. She may well end up raising money for you.
As the cheerleader behind all kinds of office fundraising projects, she set a record with her Charity Raffle benefitting SafeChild and she handily exceeded her goal when raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma society.
How does her employer feel about all these do-gooding efforts being carried out on company time? “They support it 100%. It’s great, because being so involved doesn’t add stress at all, but actually really enriches my career – and my life.”
Julia has made sure to maintain a healthy work/life balance and look for opportunities to pursue whatever interests her. As a result, “there is no ‘typical’ day in my career as a CPA.” Her job in Assurance Services has her studying up on new clients’ businesses, working through accounting issues they may be struggling with, training new team members and more.
For Julia, there’s variety even in the variety: First there’s variety in her daily activities (which keeps things from getting routine), then there’s the diversity of people she works with (which makes for great conversations and better problem-solving), and then of course you have the variety in her clients (which helps her learn something new every day).
The traditional stereotype of accounting doesn’t apply to Julia’s job at all, and that’s just fine by her. After all, she says, “Who would want to sit in a cube and enter invoice numbers into a computer all day? Not me!”
“Who would want to sit in a cube and enter invoice numbers into a computer all day? Not me!”
YEARS AS A CPA: 12
BEST JOB: Ernst & Young, of course! The relationships I have made with my co-workers and clients are priceless.
WORST JOB: Skating car-hop at Sonic Drive-in. I'm pretty sure I head-butted a car one time.
HOBBIES OUTSIDE OF WORK: Volunteering, bicycling, gourmet cooking
WORDS TO LIVE BY: "One day at a time."
Whatever you do, don’t ask Julie Pfeil about income taxes. “I can’t tell you how many times people ask me tax questions when they find out I’m a CPA,” Julie says. “I always have to explain that there’s more to accounting than filing taxes.”
Instead, you might ask her what being a CPA has to do with one of her passions – volunteering. Julie headed up Milwaukee’s Race for the Cure – an event that gathers thousands of people together to help fight breast cancer. As the leader of the race committee, Julie put her skills as a CPA to work immediately. She was responsible for developing and managing a million dollar budget for the event and managed 45 volunteers in the weeks and months leading up to the race.
“I believe everyone has the ability to give back – and they should,” she says. “I wanted to get involved with causes that are important to me.” After helping raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight breast cancer, it’s safe to say she’s on the right track.
“I always have to explain that there's more to accounting than filing taxes.”
YEARS AS A CPA: 15
HOBBIES OUTSIDE OF WORK: Volleyball, basketball, volunteering
WORDS TO LIVE BY: "You can do anything you set your mind to." - My grandpa's words of wisdom