As a CPA, whether you work for a brand like Hershey’s or a store like The Gap, you’re in charge of making a profit. That’s especially hard to do in the retail world, with the heavy competition and small profit margins. CPAs in this industry have the big job of making the right decisions about products, stores and prices that will make money in the end.
Sound like a challenge you’d have an appetite for? Here are some of the jobs you could find yourself in on the way to the top:
Staff Accountant for Your Favorite Brand. Every brand and retailer, big or small, needs a strong team of people to make sure there’s enough money being made. Sounds easy, but every decision, from sale prices to storefront décor, has a financial consequence. And the decisions never stop. Working for an iconic company has its perks though, like discounts and freebies. To get in with a brand or retailer, you may want to start your career with a public accounting firm to expose you to some of the companies you might want to work for down the line.
Cost Accounting Manager. Have a knack for finding a good deal? You’d make a great cost accounting manager. Companies that sell things to consumers are always looking to reduce costs, such as labor and materials, so they can make profits higher. In this gig you’d analyze how your company produces its goods and find any places it might be able to save. You’d look for unnecessary waste and maybe even suggest that headquarters move to Kansas, if it means lower costs. If you can make the company more profitable—hello, promotion.
Controller. Does the new and improved dessert menu mean higher profits for your restaurant chain this year? One person can answer that with full authority: the controller. In this job, you’d measure how well the business is doing and work closely with the top executives. You’d also manage budgets to keep the spending in check and hire and train the accounting staff. To get this high up the ladder, you’ll need a CPA license, possibly an MBA and an eye for detail.
Know this: While an MBA (master’s in business administration) degree is not necessary to become a successful CPA, it is highly valued in the higher ranks. An MBA will expose you to all angles of the business world.