CFO without Accounting Background: Can It Happen?

Are you looking to become a CFO but don’t have an accounting background? You’re not alone. Many professionals are interested in pursuing a career as a CFO but hesitate because they don’t have a traditional accounting background. But the question remains, can you become a CFO without an accounting degree or experience?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the backgrounds of CFOs, their roles, and responsibilities. We’ll also examine if having an accounting background is a requirement to become a CFO. Additionally, we’ll consider if non-accountants have become CFOs in the past and whether or not it’s possible today.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a CFO but unsure if your education or experience qualifies, read on to learn more. We’ll address some of the common questions people have about becoming a CFO and provide guidance on the necessary steps to reach this career goal.

So, put on your thinking cap and let’s explore the world of CFOs, examining whether you can become one without an accounting background.

Being a CFO Without Accounting Background

As the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for a company, you might think that extensive accounting knowledge is a must-have skill. However, that isn’t always the case. It is possible for someone to become a CFO without an accounting background. Let’s explore how that can happen.

Understanding the Role of a CFO

Before we delve into how to become a CFO without an accounting background, let’s first talk about what the role entails. As a CFO, you are responsible for managing the organization’s finances, including financial reporting, budgeting, and forecasting. You also advise the CEO and other senior executives on financial matters, assess financial risks, and develop strategies to mitigate those risks.

Transferable Skills

One way to become a CFO without an accounting background is by having transferable skills. These skills can come from various professional backgrounds, such as investment banking, consulting, or even operations. Transferable skills include financial modeling, data analysis, and strategic planning, to name a few.

On-the-Job Experience

Another way to become a CFO without an accounting background is by gaining experience in finance through on-the-job training and development. Most companies have training programs in place to help employees develop their finance skills. By taking on different roles and responsibilities within the finance department, you can acquire the necessary knowledge and skills needed to become a CFO.


While it is possible to become a CFO without an accounting background, having an accounting degree or other relevant finance degree can also be beneficial. These degrees impart a foundational knowledge of finance and accounting as well as other essential business skills such as communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking.

In summary, becoming a CFO without an accounting background is possible, but it requires acquiring transferable skills through other professional backgrounds, gaining on-the-job experience, and possibly obtaining an education in finance or accounting. Remember, a CFO’s role is about effectively managing the financial health of a company, and with the right skills and experience, anyone can excel in the role, regardless of their educational background.

CPA CFO: The Benefits and Challenges

As a CFO without an accounting background, you might be wondering if having a CPA designation is necessary or advantageous. In this section, we’ll explore the benefits and challenges of being a CPA CFO.

Benefits of being a CPA CFO

Added credibility

Having a CPA designation brings additional credibility to your role as a CFO. It shows that you have a strong understanding of accounting principles and have passed rigorous exams to earn the certification.

Broadened skill set

CPA training includes subjects beyond accounting, such as finance, economics, and business strategy. This broader skill set can help you make informed decisions that go beyond accounting and financial matters.

Opportunity for growth

Earning a CPA designation opens up opportunities for career growth and advancement within your organization. It can also increase your marketability for future job opportunities.

Challenges of being a CPA CFO

Time commitment

Becoming a CPA is a time-consuming process that requires significant dedication. It involves taking several exams, meeting education requirements, and gaining work experience.

Continuing education requirements

To maintain your CPA license, you must complete ongoing education requirements. This can be challenging to balance with the demands of the CFO role.

Tension between accounting and strategic decision-making

As a CPA CFO, you may have a natural bias toward accounting-based decisions. It’s important to balance this tendency with strategic decision-making to ensure the long-term success of your organization.

In conclusion, being a CPA CFO has both benefits and challenges. It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons and determine if pursuing a CPA designation is right for your career goals.

What Does a CFO Do

A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is a senior executive responsible for managing the financial actions of a company. The CFO’s ultimate goal is to ensure that the company is financially stable, both in the short and long term. Here are some of the tasks that a CFO typically performs:

Financial Planning

One of the primary responsibilities of a CFO is to help the company develop long-term financial plans. This includes forecasting, budgeting, and setting financial goals. CFOs must have a deep understanding of how the company operates, as well as the industry in which it competes. They use this knowledge to develop financial strategies that help the company grow and succeed.

Financial Reporting

Another important task that CFOs undertake is financial reporting. They are responsible for producing financial statements that are accurate and timely. These statements help investors, creditors, and other stakeholders make informed decisions about the company. CFOs must adhere to strict reporting requirements, including Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

Risk Management

CFOs are also responsible for managing the financial risks that the company faces. This includes identifying potential risks and developing strategies to mitigate them. CFOs must have a deep understanding of the financial markets, as well as the global economic environment.

Capital Management

One of the main goals of a CFO is to manage the company’s capital. This includes deciding how to invest capital in a way that maximizes returns while minimizing risk. CFOs must also determine how much capital the company needs to fund its operations and growth.


Finally, CFOs are responsible for ensuring that the company complies with all financial regulations. This includes tax laws, securities laws, and other regulatory requirements. CFOs must stay up-to-date with changing financial regulations, and ensure that the company is in full compliance.

In conclusion, CFOs play a critical role in managing the financial health of a company. They are responsible for financial planning, reporting, risk management, capital management, and compliance. Without a skilled CFO, a company may struggle to achieve financial success.

CFO Accountants

While some CFOs come from accounting backgrounds, it’s not always the case. In fact, some CFOs may have started in other areas such as operations, sales, or consulting and then moved into finance. While having an accounting background may be advantageous, it’s not always necessary to become a successful CFO.

The Importance of Accounting Skills for a CFO

Although CFOs don’t necessarily have to come from an accounting background, their job requires them to understand accounting principles. A CFO is responsible for the financial health of the company and making sure that everything is running smoothly. They need to be able to interpret financial data, make informed decisions based on that data, and communicate effectively with other members of the executive team.

Having accounting skills can make it easier for CFOs to understand financial statements, budgets, and forecasts. They will be better equipped to identify trends and potential financial risks and opportunities. They can also use their accounting skills to implement financial controls and monitor the company’s financial performance.

Other Skills Required for a CFO

While accounting knowledge is important for a CFO, it’s not the only skill required for the job. CFOs also need to be good leaders, excellent communicators, and strategic thinkers. They need to be able to manage teams, work collaboratively with other executives, and make tough decisions.

CFOs must also be able to adapt to change and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies. They need to be able to analyze data and use it to drive business decisions. Additionally, they should have a good understanding of the industry in which their company operates.

While CFOs with accounting backgrounds might have an advantage, it’s not a requirement for the job. A successful CFO needs to have a range of skills, including leadership, communication, strategic thinking, and adaptability. They also need to understand accounting principles and financial statements. Whether or not a CFO has an accounting background, they need to be able to use their expertise to drive financial success for their company.

Backgrounds of CFOs

CFOs, or Chief Financial Officers, play a crucial role in managing a company’s finances. They oversee financial planning, forecasting, budgeting, and reporting. But what kind of background do CFOs typically have?


Most CFOs have a Bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting or economics, while others may have a degree in business administration or another related field. Additionally, some CFOs may have pursued a Master’s degree or an MBA to further enhance their knowledge and skills.

Professional Experience

CFOs often start their careers in accounting or finance roles, working their way up through the ranks. They may have worked as accountants, financial analysts, or even as entry-level staff in larger financial organizations. In general, CFOs have an average of 15+ years of professional finance experience before taking on this role.


CFOs need to be skilled in financial analysis, strategy development, and risk management. They must be able to communicate financial information clearly and effectively to non-financial staff and stakeholders. Additionally, they must be able to make strategic decisions based on their analysis of financial data.

Industry-specific Knowledge

In addition to having a deep understanding of finance and accounting principles, CFOs also need to have industry-specific knowledge. For example, a CFO in the healthcare industry would need to be familiar with healthcare regulations and reimbursement models, while a CFO in the tech industry would need to be knowledgeable about the latest trends in technology and the competitive landscape.

Overall, CFOs come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. A strong background in finance, accounting, or business is essential, but industry-specific knowledge and skills are also important. Regardless of their background, CFOs play a critical role in managing a company’s finances, ensuring its financial stability and growth.

How to Become a CFO

Becoming a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is a dream for many aspiring business professionals. CFOs play a vital role in a company’s success, overseeing financial strategy and ensuring financial stability. If you’re interested in becoming a CFO, here are some tips to get you started:

Start With a Solid Foundation

You don’t necessarily have to have an accounting background to become a CFO, but you do need a strong understanding of financial concepts and how they apply to business. Consider taking accounting, finance, and economics courses to build your knowledge in these areas. A degree in business administration can also be helpful.

Gain Experience

Working your way up in finance is a common path to becoming a CFO. Start with entry-level positions in accounting or finance and work your way up to more advanced roles. Look for opportunities to take on leadership roles in these positions, such as managing a team or overseeing a project.

Network and Build Relationships

Networking is essential to building a successful career in finance. Attend industry events and conferences, join professional organizations, and connect with other professionals in your field. Building relationships with colleagues and mentors can also help you gain valuable insights and advice on your career path.

Develop Strong Analytical and Communication Skills

CFOs must be able to interpret financial data and communicate insights effectively to other executives and stakeholders. Work on developing your analytical and communication skills through practice and training.

Continuously Learn and Adapt

The finance industry is always evolving, and CFOs must be able to adapt to new technologies, regulations, and market trends. Continuously learning and keeping up with the latest developments is critical for success in this role.

In conclusion, becoming a CFO without an accounting background is possible, but it requires hard work, dedication, and a strong foundation in finance. By gaining experience, building relationships, developing essential skills, and staying up-to-date with industry trends, you can become a successful CFO and drive your company’s financial success.

CFO Accountant Salary: What to Expect

If you’re considering pursuing a career as a CFO Accountant, you may be wondering what kind of salary you can expect in this field. While there are several factors that can affect your earnings, there are some general salary ranges that you can expect based on industry standards.

Average CFO Accountant Salary

Based on recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for CFO Accountants is $77,920. However, this can vary significantly depending on factors such as location, experience, education level, and industry.

Location and Industry

CFO Accountant salaries can vary based on location and industry. For instance, CFO Accountants in major cities may earn higher salaries due to the cost of living in those areas. On the other hand, CFO Accountants working in smaller towns or rural areas may earn less but have a lower cost of living.

In terms of industry, CFO Accountants working in finance and insurance tend to earn higher salaries compared to those in other industries. According to recent data, the average salary for CFO Accountants in finance and insurance is $87,390, while those in government agencies earn an average salary of $71,050.

Experience and Education Level

Experience and education level can also significantly impact your salary as a CFO Accountant. Those with several years of experience in the field can expect to earn higher salaries compared to those just starting out.

Furthermore, those with advanced degrees, such as an MBA or a CPA license, may be able to command higher salaries compared to those with only a bachelor’s degree or no certification at all.

Overall, a career as a CFO Accountant can be quite lucrative. While there are several factors that can affect your salary, including location, industry, experience, and education level, the average salary for CFO Accountants is around $77,920 per year. If you’re looking for a career that offers financial stability and growth potential, becoming a CFO Accountant may be worth considering.

Does a CFO Handle Accounting

If you think the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) solely deals with numbers, then you’re not alone. The role of the CFO often gets intertwined with accounting, but there are essential differences between the two.

Understanding the Role of a CFO

As a high-ranking executive officer, the CFO has a vital role in the company’s financial management. The CFO is responsible for implementing financial strategies, forecasting future trends, and ensuring the financial stability of the business.

The Distinction Between CFOs and Accountants

While the CFO is concerned with the overall financial health of the company, accountants are involved in managing the day-to-day financial operations. CFOs set the financial direction for the business, while accountants ensure the company’s financial transactions are recorded correctly.

Is an Accounting Background Necessary for CFOs

Ideally, a CFO should have a basic understanding of accounting. However, it isn’t compulsory to have an accounting background to become a CFO. A CFO with a non-accounting background can still perform well in the role as long as they have experience in managing finances and forecasting financial growth.

Collaborating with Accountants

CFOs do not handle accounting, but they work closely with accountants to ensure the company’s financial activities are transparent. Accountants help CFOs in preparing and reviewing financial statements, managing risks, and ensuring compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.

In conclusion, the CFO’s role is critical to the company’s financial success, but it is not limited to accounting. A CFO’s primary responsibility is to create and implement financial strategies and ensure the company maintains financial stability. While the CFO does not typically handle accounting tasks, they work closely with accountants to ensure accurate financial reporting.

CFO vs Accounting Manager

As organizations grow larger, they tend to require more complex financial management structures. Two common positions are CFO and Accounting Manager, but what’s the key difference between them? In this article, we’ll explore the differences between these two important roles.

Job Description

The primary duty of a CFO is to manage an organization’s overall financial strategy, which includes forecasting, budgeting, and overseeing any necessary financial analysis. On the other hand, an Accounting Manager’s responsibility is to oversee their organization’s accounting procedures. This includes managing their dailies such as invoice processing, payroll, reconciling accounts, and monitoring the company’s financial transactions.


A CFO is expected to have an MBA in Finance and several years of experience, combined with excellent managerial and communication skills. They need to understand financial reporting regulations and constantly monitor changes to make informed decisions. An accounting manager, on the other hand, is expected to have a Bachelor’s in Accounting or a similar field, and many also have advanced certifications in accounting.


According to Glassdoor, the annual salary of a CFO is approximately $185,000 compared to an Accounting Manager’s with an average annual salary of $95,000. This variation in pay is due to the CFO’s seniority level compared to the Accounting Manager’s whose role has less responsibility.

In conclusion, although both CFOs and Accounting Managers are responsible for managing the finances of an organization, their key differences lie in their job descriptions, qualifications, and salary. As a business owner, it’s critical to tailor job positions and descriptions to your company’s structure for effective financial management.

What Percentage of CFOs are CPAs

As a CFO, you might wonder how many of your colleagues are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). After all, you don’t necessarily need a CPA license to become a CFO. So, what percentage of CFOs are CPAs?


According to research conducted by Accountemps, a staffing agency for accounting and finance professionals, 46% of CFOs hold a CPA license. This means that more than half of CFOs do not have a CPA license.

Why is CPA important for a CFO

You might be wondering, why is a CPA license important for a CFO? While a CPA license isn’t a requirement for a CFO, it can be beneficial. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Broadens your professional skillset: A CPA license demonstrates proficiency in accounting, finance, taxation, and auditing. By holding a CPA license, you can become a more well-rounded CFO with a diverse range of expertise.

  • Boosts your credibility: A CPA license is a recognized credential in the accounting and finance industry. By holding a CPA license, you can showcase your credibility and expertise to your colleagues, investors, and stakeholders.

  • Enhances your earning potential: As a CFO, you already have a high earning potential. However, holding a CPA license can further boost your earning potential. According to PayScale, the average salary for a CFO with a CPA license is $154,000 per year, while the average salary for a CFO without a CPA license is $146,000 per year.

In conclusion, while nearly half of all CFOs have a CPA license, it isn’t a requirement to become a CFO. However, obtaining a CPA license can broaden your skillset, boost your credibility, and enhance your earning potential. If you’re already a CFO without a CPA license, it’s never too late to obtain one and reap the benefits.

Can a Non-accountant be a CFO

Are you wondering if it’s possible for someone without an accounting background to become a Chief Financial Officer (CFO)? The answer is yes! While a background in finance or accounting can be useful, it’s not a requirement to becoming a CFO.

Skills Required

One of the most important skills needed for a CFO is the ability to manage finances and provide financial guidance to the business or organization. This means that someone without an accounting background can still be a successful CFO if they have strong financial skills. In addition to financial skills, communication, leadership, and strategic thinking abilities are also crucial for a CFO.

Education and Experience

While an accounting background is not a requirement for a CFO, it can be helpful to have some relevant education or experience in finance and accounting. An MBA with a focus in finance or accounting, for example, can be valuable. Similarly, experience in financial analysis, planning and reporting, and investor relations can also be beneficial.

Learning on the Job

Many successful CFOs have learned on the job, meaning they didn’t have an accounting background but gained understanding and experience while working closely with financial teams. By engaging with the right mentors, taking courses in finance and accounting, and expanding their knowledge base, non-accountants can become successful CFOs.

While an accounting background can be helpful in becoming a CFO, it’s not a requirement. Financial skills, communication, leadership, strategic thinking abilities, relevant education or experience, and learning on the job can all contribute to a successful CFO career. So, start working on building those skills and gaining experience, and you too could become a CFO without an accounting background!

Can an Accountant become a CFO

As an accountant, you might be considering taking your career to the next level by becoming a chief financial officer (CFO) someday. But the question is, can an accountant become a CFO? The answer is a resounding yes!

The Role of a CFO

Before we dive into the specifics of how an accountant can become a CFO, let’s first understand what the role of a CFO entails.

A CFO is responsible for managing a company’s financial resources and strategy while ensuring its sustainability and growth. They also oversee financial planning and analysis, accounting operations, and risk management.

The Path to Becoming a CFO

One of the most common misconceptions about becoming a CFO is that you need to have an accounting background. However, this is not necessarily true. Many have succeeded in becoming CFOs without prior accounting experience.

To become a CFO, you’ll need to have an in-depth knowledge of finance, accounting, and business operations. You can gain this through not only formal education but also on-the-job experience. You may consider taking courses in business administration, finance, and accounting while also working your way up in a company’s finance department.

Transferable Skills

The good news is that as an accountant, you have several transferable skills that could make you a qualified candidate for a CFO position. These include financial analysis, budgeting and forecasting, strategic planning, and risk management – all of which are essential aspects of the CFO role.


Another vital aspect of becoming a CFO is networking. Building connections within the industry can help you learn about new job opportunities and gain valuable insights from experienced professionals in the field. You can attend finance conferences or join industry groups such as the Association for Finance Professionals.

In conclusion, with the right combination of education, experience, and transferable skills, an accountant can undoubtedly become a CFO. Pursue opportunities for growth, network, and keep up with industry trends, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your career goals.

Can You Become a CFO Without a CPA

The short answer is yes, you can become a CFO without a CPA. However, it will depend on the hiring company’s qualifications and what they are looking for in a CFO. Some companies prioritize hiring a CFO with a background in accounting, while others prioritize hiring a CFO with a strong business acumen.

What Does a CPA Do

CPAs, or certified public accountants, are professionals who specialize in accounting and financial management. They are trained to provide financial insight and expertise for individuals and businesses. CPAs generally have a strong understanding of accounting principles, including financial statements, tax laws, and auditing.

Why Do Companies Prefer a CFO with a CPA

Many companies prefer a CFO with a CPA because they have a strong financial background and are knowledgeable about accounting principles. This can be particularly important for companies in highly regulated industries, where financial compliance is critical. A CFO with a CPA can provide financial insight and help ensure the company is complying with all relevant laws and regulations.

Can You Become a CFO Without a CPA

Yes, you can become a CFO without a CPA. Many CFOs do not have a CPA, and instead have a strong background in finance or business. However, having a CPA can be an advantage, particularly when working for a company that requires a high level of financial compliance.

If you do not have a CPA but are interested in becoming a CFO, it is important to gain experience and knowledge in finance, accounting, and business management. Many CFOs have a master’s degree in business administration, finance, or accounting, which can help them gain the skills and expertise needed for the role.

In conclusion, while having a CPA can be an advantage for becoming a CFO, it is not necessarily a requirement. Companies look for individuals who are experienced, knowledgeable, and have a strong business acumen. With experience and education in finance, accounting, and business management, anyone can become a successful CFO regardless of their background in accounting.

Does a CFO Need an Accounting Degree

If you’re aspiring to be a CFO (Chief Financial Officer) but don’t have an accounting background, you may be wondering whether having an accounting degree is necessary. It’s a common question, and the answer may surprise you.

The Short Answer

No, you don’t necessarily need an accounting degree to become a CFO. Many CFOs come from non-accounting backgrounds, such as business, economics, or finance, and have worked their way up through the ranks of a company.

The Long Answer

While having an accounting degree isn’t mandatory, it can be beneficial. Accounting knowledge and skills can provide a solid foundation for a CFO’s financial decision-making. However, it’s the combination of various skills, experience, and expertise that make a successful CFO, not just a single degree.

Some companies may prefer to hire a CFO with an accounting degree for their financial acumen, but others value other skills such as leadership, strategic planning, communication, and problem-solving abilities. In fact, a survey conducted by Financial Executives International showed that only 36% of CFOs had an accounting degree, while the rest came from other disciplines.

How to Become a CFO Without an Accounting Degree

If you don’t have an accounting degree, but you’re still interested in becoming a CFO, there are some steps you can take. Here are a few tips:

  • Gain practical experience in finance and accounting-related roles. This could include working in a financial analysis position or managing budgets.
  • Pursue higher education in business administration, finance, or economics to gain a solid foundation in financial management.
  • Obtain professional certifications, such as a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) or Certified Financial Manager (CFM), to demonstrate your financial competency.
  • Build a strong network in the finance and accounting community to gain exposure to industry standards, trends, and best practices.
  • Continuously learn and update your skills to adapt to changing financial landscapes and regulations.

In summary, having an accounting degree is not a prerequisite to becoming a CFO. While it can be helpful, other skills, experience, and certifications are equally valuable. The key is to gain practical experience, pursue higher education, and continuously learn and update your skills to become an effective financial leader.

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