Careers and Internships

Whether your goal is to have a career in public accounting (CPA), serve as a corporate controller or treasurer, manage your own business, become a lawyer, or get involved in government or not-for-profit enterprises, accounting can help you become a sophisticated user of financial information. Accounting provides an excellent foundation for upper management positions in almost any organization.

Internship Opportunities

As an accounting major, you can take advantage of a number of internship opportunities while studying here. They can be done in the summer or during the academic year. You can even earn academic credit or intern abroad. Learn more about the process here.

Companies where accounting students have interned:

  • CVS Health, PWC, EY, KPMG, Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co. 

Career Opportunities

Type of Work Performed by Accountants

Accountants prepare information regarding organizations’ and individuals’ financial performance, financial position, and cash flows. Accountants play many roles in preparing and reviewing financial information. Examples include:

      • External Auditing
        Auditors review the financial statements of the large corporations which list on the world’s stock exchanges. Auditors provide external investors with an “opinion” concerning whether the statements fairly reflect the companies’ financial performance and position.
      • Information Systems
        Accountants design, review and implement the financial information systems of many types of organizations.
      • Tax Accounting
        Accountants prepare the tax returns of large companies, small companies, and individuals. Accountants are also involved in Tax and Estate Planning.
      • General Accounting and Management Accounting (Controllership)
        Accountants work for companies and prepare the firms’ financial statements. Accountants are also involved in financial planning and budgeting, as well as designing and implementing their companies’ financial information systems.

Types of Organizations that Employ Accountants

Accountants are employed by virtually all types of firms and organizations. In general, these can be classified as follows:

      • Certified Public Accounting (CPA) Firms
        CPA firms are organizations of accountants which provide many types of accounting services for client companies. CPA firms are frequently classified by their size and scope. The “Big 4” accounting firms perform audits and other types of accounting services (e.g. taxes, information systems, consulting) for some of the largest companies in the world. Regional firms also perform these services, but generally for smaller (regional) companies. Local accounting firms also perform audits for local companies but may be more concentrated in preparing financial statements and in various areas of tax accounting.
      • Private Sector Industrial or Services Firms
        Accountants that work for companies may: help plan and monitor the organizations’ financial future (management accounting); prepare their organizations’ financial statements; and, develop and audit their organizations’ accounting systems.
      • Government and Not for Profit Organizations
        Governments at all levels (federal, state, and local) employ accountants in virtually all of the functions described above. Accountants are also employed by many different types of not-for-profit organizations. Accounting in health care organizations in becoming increasingly important.

Professional Certifications in Accounting

Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Certification and License
The CPA Certification and License is the Accounting Profession’s most well-known and prestigious certification. This CPA designation is both a professional certification that attests to an individual’s competency in accounting (particularly auditing) as well as a license, which allows individuals to work in CPA firms (as partners or sole practitioners). The Certificate and License is obtained by passing the Uniform CPA Exam and obtaining a specific number of years of professional experience, generally in a CPA firm or an organization (e.g. governmental audit agency) which emphasizes the audit function.

The educational requirements to sit for the CPA exam and the experience requirements to obtain the CPA Certificate and License are determined by each State’s Board of Accountancy. Generally, in Rhode Island candidates may sit for the CPA exam if they have:

      • Earned a graduate (Masters) degree from an accredited accounting program; or,
      • Earned a graduate degree in Business (e.g. MBA) from an accredited graduate school with not less than 24 credit hours in accounting or 15 credit hours in accounting at the graduate level; or
      • Possess an undergraduate degree and have earned 24 credit hours in accounting at the undergraduate level and 24 courses in business at the undergraduate or graduate levels.

The accounting and business courses in the first and second options above are subject to restrictions. The detailed requirements for sitting for the exam may be found at the Rhode Island State Board of Accountancy website. The educational and experience requirements for all states (including R.I.) may be found at the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy website.

Other Certifications

In addition to the CPA designation, there are certifications which attest to more specialized skills. For example, Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation, provided by the Institute of Management Accountants, attests to competencies in financial planning, budgeting, and forecasting, in private company settings. Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), provided by the Institute of Internal Auditors, attests to an accountant’s skills in auditing and assessing a company’s financial systems (from an internal company perspective).

Employment Opportunities

Recent Graduates of the URI Accounting Program have been hired by all of the types of organizations described above. A few examples include:

    • Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PWC)
    • Ernst and Young (EY)
    • KPMG
    • CBIZ Tofias
    • BlumShapiro
    • KLR (Kahn Litwin)
    • DiSanto, Priest & Co
    • Piccerelli & Gilstein
    • CitrinCooperman
    • Forensic Risk Alliance
    • Textron
    • Hasbro
    • American Tower
    • Office of the Auditor General of the State of Rhode Island

There are many resources available to help you find a job, including HandShake.