Jack of all trades, master of none? When you work as an auditor or consultant, you end up getting a crash course on all types of businesses – usually by looking over other people’s shoulders. But what if you’re the type of person who wants to dig deeper into a single business or industry? Ask a corporate CPA why they do what they do, and they’ll tell you it’s because they’re able to master all the ins and outs of the business – and make a real difference in the long run. They like the hands-on approach. And that’s what being a corporate CPA is all about.

What you’ll do

These days, CPAs do a lot of collaborating with their partners on the business side. For a manufacturing company, that could mean learning everything there is to know about the supply of materials, or about the manufacturing process itself, or distribution – or all of the above. For a software company it could mean partnering with engineers to understand how new applications are made, or working with the marketing team to make sure they spend the right amount on a product launch. Wherever you go, your colleagues will expect you to be the voice of reason, using all the skills you learned to become a CPA.

Where you’ll work

Every business needs CPAs. The question is what type of business you want to work for. Large? Small? Global? Local? A brand name everybody knows? A company that makes something you enjoy?

Whatever you decide, once you’re in you can end up going anywhere – literally. Corporate CPAs move around a lot. They go to different business units, circulate from department to department to learn the business. Sales. Marketing. Supply chain. Mergers and acquisitions. You name it, and CPAs are involved.

Is this for you?

As a corporate CPA, you’re in the trenches every day with people who depend on you, from all over the business. That means you need to have good interpersonal skills if you want to be successful.

It also helps to be interested in the business you’re working for. If you can’t get excited about the company, chances are you won’t get excited about the job.

How to make it happen

Businesses always need good CPAs – a fact that the recent economic downturn underscored. When business gets challenging, it helps to have a team of whip-smart CPAs on your side. While there’s no single best way to get a job in corporate accounting, there are two common routes. One is to take an entry-level position and work your way up the food chain. The other is to take a job at an auditing firm, find out what types of businesses or industries you’re interested in, and then make the leap once you find what you’re looking for.

Want more details? Hear it straight from a CPA at Microsoft, Nerelys Ortiz.