Management accountants often start as cost accountants, junior internal auditors or trainees for other accounting positions. As they advance in their organizations, they may rise to accounting manager, controller, chief cost accountant, budget director or manager of internal auditing. Some also become treasurers, vice presidents of finance, chief financial officers or corporate presidents. Many senior corporate executives have a background in accounting, internal auditing or finance.
Staff accountant (1-3 years). Financial accounting and reporting staff work under the direction of a senior accountant performing detailed work assignments in one or several of the following areas: receivables, payroll, payables, property, general ledger and financial statements.
Senior accountant (3-6 years). Senior accountants supervise the work of staff accountants and are responsible for special reports and financial analyses.
Accounting manager (6+ years). Accounting managers assist the controller and are often responsible for one of the functional areas such as financial accounting or budgetary planning and control. They direct the work of personnel involved in detailed accounting entries, internal financial reporting and financial statements.
Staff internal auditors (1-3 years). Internal audit staff works under the direction of seniors and managers in conducting compliance audits and tests internal controls and information systems.
Senior internal auditors (3-6 years). Internal audit seniors supervise the testing of internal control and accounting information systems. They often conduct statistical samples of document approval, perform tests to uncover and perform operational audits for profit improvement recommendations. Internal audit managers (6+ years). Internal audit managers direct the staff responsible for systematically sampling the adequacy and reliability of internal control systems. They make recommendations for changes as needed, and ensure that company policies and procedures are followed and establish the proper techniques to discover and prevent fraud.
Controller. The controller functions as the Chief Accounting Executive responsible for organizing, directing and controlling the work of the accounting personnel in collecting, summarizing and interpreting financial data for the use of management, creditors, investors and taxing authorities. As a member of top management, the controller helps develop forecasts for projects, measure the actual performance against operating standards and interprets the results of operations for all levels of management.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO). The CFO advises the president of the organization with respect to financial reporting, financial stability and liquidity, and financial growth. The CFO directs and supervises the work of the controller, treasurer, and sometimes the internal auditing manager. Other duties include maintenance of relationships with stockholders, financial institutions and the investment community. The CFO contributes to the overall organization planning, policy development and implementation.