Role of the Management Accountant

Learn what the role of the management accountant plays and how you can have a career in this exciting accounting field.

Also known as corporate accountants, management accountants work within one specific company.

The role of the management accountant is to perform a series of tasks to ensure their company’s financial security, handling essentially all financial matters and thus helping to drive the business’s overall management and strategy.

Management accountants are key figures in determining the status and success of a company. Some choose to become a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), a similar credential to CPA, but with a greater focus on cost accounting, financial planning, and management issues.

Job responsibilities can range widely. Depending on the company, your level of experience, the time of year and the type of industry, you could find yourself doing any of the following tasks:

  • Budgeting
  • Handling taxes
  • Managing assets to helping determine compensation and benefits packages
  • Aiding in strategic planning

Management Accounting Career Path

Entry Level
Types of Roles:

Staff accountant, cost accountant, junior internal auditor, tax accountant

Getting There:

  • Bachelor degree in finance or accounting
  • Strong technology skills (specifically in Microsoft Excel)
Job Duties:

  • Work under a senior accountant or manager
  • Do tasks involving receivables and payroll, financial statements and compliance audits
  • Help in the budget department
  • Prepare reports for the controller’s department
Mid Level
Types of Roles:

Accounting manager or senior accountant, senior internal auditor

Getting There:

  • All entry-level requirements
  • Strong communication and analytical skills
  • An MBA with a focus in accounting, MAcc or CPA or CMA certification is recommended
Job Duties:

  • Prepare financial statements
  • Assess internal controls
  • Analyze and/or prepare monthly financial information
  • Help create company budgets
  • Supervise accounting staff
  • Complete and review tax returns
  • Help manage the general ledger
Senior Level
Types of Roles:

Controller, director of accounting or finance, CFO

Getting There:

  • All mid-level requirements
  • Track record of excellence and leadership in the field
  • Solid management skills
  • Knowledge of the industry and US accounting principles
  • A graduate degree—MBA or MAcc—and/or CPA or CMA certification is desired
Job Duties:

  • Responsible for all or part of a company’s financial status, actions and transactions
  • Coordinate accounting operations
  • Hire, train and oversee staff
  • Maintain budget
  • Perform financial analysis
  • Build business strategy
  • Manage relationships with investors and auditors

*Depends on company size, specific job and location.

Sources: Robert Half International; Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2018-19 Occupational Outlook Handbook.

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