Some accounting grads may leave school knowing they want to be accountants, but there is a growing percentage that aspires to leadership positions, using accounting as a platform for other roles.

Many of them have the potential to become company executives, but they need good communication skills, according to Gene Siciliano, a Los Angeles-based financial management consultant.

"The first thing accountants need to do is learn how to speak effectively, whether it's in front of one person or a group of 50," Siciliano said. "I would advise any accountant to go to Toastmasters or to take a speech class. Accountants today need to send the message early on that they are made of the right stuff."

Job descriptions now include desired skill sets such as "excellent communication skills" and "upbeat and motivated and possessing a good sense of humor," he said.

Graduating accountants who desire a career path beyond accounting need to know how to market themselves from the start, according to Siciliano.

“A candidate who can communicate effectively and who possesses financial acumen is unstoppable,” he said.