Many people of note started out as accountants. Your CPA in Fort Collins just might end up on the glittering stage crooning to adoring fans, or signing books once they publish their first bestselling novel.

Many fictional characters have also been accountants. Skyler White of Breaking Bad was a practitioner of business bookkeeping, but with her husband’s role as a major drug dealer, her skills were forced into a whole new arena of finagling and creativity. (Now, that is some interesting small business bookkeeping.)

For your pleasure, here is a list of several well known people who actually started out in the accounting field before finding success elsewhere:

  • Gibby Haynes, a member of the rock band the Butthole Surfers started as an accounting and economics major at Trinity University in San Antonio. However, the guitars and grooves called, and he left his first intended career and found success as a musician.
  • Kenny G, another musician, known for his model good looks and glorious waving hair, started out as an accountant before finding success with the saxaphone.
  • The Singing Accountant Tim Dubois wrote numerous best selling songs for a variety of recording artists. He now serves as the president of Arista Records in Nashville.
  • Bob Newhart was an accountant. Somehow, this is easy to believe as he used his buttoned down, mousy nervous accountant persona in his comedic act, and later in television roles. His image was a stereotype of accountants, and he saw the potential success of using that persona on the stage.
  • Then there is Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, the winner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship as well as a performer on the TV show Dancing With The Stars. He actually graduated from Cal Poly University-San Luis Obispo with a degree in business and accounting. Unlike Bob Newhart, he went to the other end of the personality spectrum, not using the timid reserved character which Newhart found so successful in his characters.
  • John Grisham, best selling novelist, actually obtained an undergraduate degree in accounting from Mississippi State University. We suspect he had a highly organized brain and extensive memory, which would have attracted him to accounting as a career. Fortunately for his fans, he used those abilities to write numerous best selling books.
  • Thomas Pickard, who was the second-hand man at the FBI. Interestingly, the FBI is a vocation notorious for attracting accountants. Almost 1,400 of the FBI’s special agents are accountants.

In sports, we also have several athletes who either received degrees in accounting, or started out in the field of small business bookkeeping before moving to the field of a football or baseball franchise.

  • Kevin Kennedy, former Texas Rangers Manager and CPA,  kept up his accounting chops by working on the taxes for his players, and as an extra venue for income while he built his career.
  • Marcus O’Sullivan passed his CPA exam, but decided running was more for him. He became a track sensation.
  • Ray Wersching, while contracted as as a field goal kicker for the San Francisco 49er’s, worked as a CPA off season.

Other accountants used their business bookkeeping and accounting background to build financial empires.

  • Arthur Blank, not only was the co-founder of Home Depot, he also is the owner of the Atlanta Falcons. He started out as certified public accountant.
  • Phil Knight started out as a CPA–he now sits on the board for several Fortune 100 companies, including Nike.
  • We have to bring in perhaps the most well known empire builder, J.P. Morgan. After graduation, his first job was as a junior accountant on Wall Street. We all know how that turned out.
  • The founder of the Wellington Fund, Walter L. Morgan, was considered to be one of the pioneers of the mutual fund industry. The Wellington Fund became the star asset of  fund for the Vanguard Group of Investment Companies.The Wellington Fund is the second largest mutual fund company in the world.

When it comes to fictional accountants, there are many. The 2001 movie The Accountant is a good place to start our list. It features a  forensic accountant who un-cooks the books for illicit clients. Other fictional accountants include:

  • Skyler White, as mentioned above. The wife of Breaking Bad’s meth master Walter White, she was certainly not buttoned down or nerdy.
  • Several characters from the TV show The Office were accountants. Each had a very distinct personality, from Angela the cat queen; Oscar, the very likable and somewhat reserved master of the books; and Kevin the love-able goof. How did Kevin, who aspired to be a musician end up in accounting? That was the brainchild of the boss, Michael.
  • Ebenezer Scrooge. Perhaps the meanest and most parsimonious fictional accountant, he got his comeuppance and changed his ways–but not his books.