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5 jobs that make working with numbers seem cool

These careers offer much more than quality time with a calculator and spreadsheets—you can count on it.

5 jobs that make working with numbers seem cool

Let’s just go ahead and say it: Accounting doesn’t have the coolest reputation. You’re probably picturing a buttoned-up professional who sits at a desk, dutifully crunching numbers and entering them into spreadsheets all the livelong day.

Yes, that’s certainly a big part of the job, but who said it has to be boring?

Accountants are integral parts of the teams working in exciting high-profile industries—including sports, entertainment and the government. In addition (pun intended!), accounting is poised for higher-than-average growth over the next 10 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These five niche accounting careers buck the profession’s staid image.

Sports accountant

What you’d do: Not to detract from your idolization of sports stars, but they’re basically employees working for a business—a team—and that means lots of numbers to track. Sports accountants know the score. They take care of budgets, payroll and cash flow, along with forecasting for the upcoming season.

How to qualify: You’ll need a bachelor’s degree and a few years of experience in the industry for a sports accountant role (internships are a good start). It’s a competitive specialty, so a master’s degree in accounting to go with your CPA certification will give you an edge.

Forensic accountant

What you’d do: Think of all those CSI shows, but swap the DNA evidence with numbers. Insurance agencies, law enforcement and the government are major employers of forensic accountants, who track the paper trails of potential wrongdoing. When companies commit corporate fraud or Ponzi schemers are exposed, it’s forensic accountants who act as sleuths to expose what happened and highlight red flags to prevent future similar problems elsewhere.

How to qualify: A bachelor’s degree—possibly in the specialized field of forensic accounting—and CPA certification are the bare minimum, but an advanced degree and at least some coursework on fraud and criminal investigations will be expected by most employers. Additionally, many practitioners also obtain a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) accreditation.

Corporate entertainment accountant

What you’d do: These accountants record every last penny spent in the entertainment industry, and considering the amount of money that goes into today’s blockbuster movies, albums and TV shows, the job is a big one. Corporate entertainment accountants can be hired by movie and TV studios, record labels and production companies, or as part of boutique firms that serve these companies. Some boutique firms can get you even closer to the action, directly serving stars as accountants and business managers.

How to qualify: A bachelor’s degree and CPA certification are the baseline here.

International accountant

What you’d do: International accountants are crucial for companies that operate all over the world, and given the nature of business today, that’s a massive and growing pool. Just as there are many diverse cultures around the world, there are also many different types of opportunities for international accountants, depending on the nature of the industry you represent. But many doors will open to those who work hard to become an expert on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), as well as U.S. standards.

How to qualify: You need a bachelor’s degree and, in most cases, CPA certification or CPA eligibility. A master’s degree and experience or training in IFRS are also helpful. Depending on the country you’re working in, you may need to pursue additional country-specific certification if you plan on being there for an extended period of time.

Financial planning accountant

What you’d do: Many accountants are focused on looking backward (think tax return preparation), but financial planning accountants offer guidance on what’s to come in their clients’ lives—retirement, children’s education, buying a home or other major investments—as well as how to minimize tax liabilities later. Helping to secure someone’s future can be pretty darn cool.

How to qualify: You’ll need a bachelor’s degree and CPA certification, plus you’ll need to become a Certified Financial Planner.

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