Interesting Jobs as an Accountant, Types of Accounting and Average Salaries in Australia

This article is sponsored by ACCA Global

Thinking about kickstarting your accounting career in Australia? You’ll be happy to hear that a 2020 study by recruitment company, Hays, found that accounting is one of the top three positions employers are looking to hire amid COVID-19. 

Read on to discover more about which industries need accountants, the different types of accounting, interesting career pathways and average salaries. 

Which industries need accountants in Australia?

Any industry you can think of needs accountants. The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) explains that accountancy is an essential part of all businesses, making it a versatile and potentially lucrative career to pursue. 

What are the different types of accounting jobs in Australia? 

Due to the widespread need for accountants across multiple industries, there are many different types of accounting jobs in Australia. Here are just a few of the areas of accounting that you can specialise in: 

Financial accounting

Preparing and interpreting financial statements for small businesses, partnerships or companies. 

Governmental accounting

Recording and managing income, financial investments and expenditure made by a government. Governmental accounting systems differ from their non-government counterparts. 

Public accounting

Working in a business that provides accounting services to other businesses, usually in the form of tax returns, auditing, preparation of financial statements and consulting on best-practice record keeping. 

Cost accounting

Improving a business’s net profit margin by recording and analysing performance, and providing data-driven suggestions to reduce production costs. 

Forensic accounting

Reviewing and reporting on financial issues such as fraud, economic damages, bankruptcy or post-acquisition disputes. In many cases, findings end up in court. This field combines accounting, auditing and investigative skills. 

Management accounting

Recording and managing a business’s financial transactions, then translating the data into learnings for the business’ management team to make informed decisions on current and future investments. In this role, people skills are just as important as accounting skills. 

Tax accounting

Preparing tax returns, tax payments and other financial statements for a business or individual in order to comply with tax laws.

Auditing

Reviewing a business’ financial records to ensure the accuracy and legality of their declarations. Auditors can also work in a consultancy role to provide suggestions for cost-saving and risk-management methods. 

What is the difference between public practice and industry accounting?

Public accounting and industry (also known as ‘private’) accounting involve very similar skill sets and offer similar roles. However, where they differ is the type of business/es you provide your services to. 

Public accountants work for a firm that services a portfolio of clients across a range of accounting and business skill sets. They benefit from having a variety of clientele, with accountants often working from the client’s office for a few weeks or months before moving to a new company and challenge. The firm you work for could range from “The Big Four” – Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and Ernst & Young – to a local general firm.  

Industry accountants are directly hired by a company to service the needs of that business. They enjoy the benefits of working in one business for a longer period, developing strong relationships with direct and indirect colleagues, the ability to deeply understand the needs and struggles of the business, and the opportunity to work on and deliver long-term projects. 

How much do accountants earn in Australia? 

According to Indeed.com, the average accountant salary in Australia in 2021 is $70,892 per year. However, your earning potential will be determined by the sector and role you choose to work in. There are dozens of roles you can pursue, including: 

Business analysts identify areas in a business where change could add financial value or improve process efficiency. Accountants can train to become business analysts through on-the-job training or by taking either ACCA’s Advanced Financial Management (AFM) or Advanced Performance Management (APM) exams. 

Average base salary: $100,954 per year.

Chief financial officers (CFO) play one of the most respected roles in finance and oversee all financial aspects of a business. Accountants working towards a CFO role must be part of a professional body and will generally be promoted after holding a senior management position. 

Average base salary: $158,021 per year.

Fund managers are responsible for keeping accurate records for an investment fund, as well as implementing investment strategies to increase profit. Fund managers are generally expected to be part of a professional body and would benefit from taking ACCA’s Advanced Financial Management (AFM) or Advanced Taxation (ATX) exams. 

Average base salary: $108,349 per year.

Risk managers are tasked with developing and implementing methods to reduce a company’s risk profile. Accountants can train in risk management on the job but may want to consider taking an ACCA Strategic Professional Option exam. 

Average base salary: $125,088 per year.

Payroll refers to the team that processes salaries within a company, including commissions, leave pay, employee benefits and expenses. There are generally several levels of management and lots of opportunity for career progression. Accountants can learn on the job after taking an entry-level position. 

Average base salary: $85,053 per year.

Compliance auditors are tasked with working in a business to ensure it grows and prospers while meeting rules set by governments and regulatory bodies. Accountants can enter into a junior position to learn on the job, but dedicated anti-money laundering and compliance training is often an advantage.
Average base salary: $81,544 per year.

Is accounting an in-demand industry in Australia?

It certainly is! A recent survey by recruitment company, Hays, reports that accounting is among the top three priority positions employers are looking to hire in a post-coronavirus world. You can learn more about the accounting industry in Australia here