It’s a relevant question given today’s crapshoot of an economy. Students spend years studying finance, auditing and budgeting, join their local chapters of professional associations and network with key practitioners in their community. As thousands of graduates enter the workforce this month the question remains: now what?

Despite the fragile economy, employment of accountants is expected to grow by 18 percent between now and 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is faster than the average for all other occupations.

Most accounting positions fall into four categories: accounting in private industry, public accounting, government jobs and jobs in nonprofit organizations, according to Sandra B. Richtermeyer CPA, CMA and incoming chair-elect of the Institute of Management Accountants Board of Directors. Many of those positions involve internal accounting, internal or external auditing, tax preparation, and compliance-related responsibilities.

Those not graduating in the next few years can get a head start in gaining experience by obtaining internships, getting involved on campus, or volunteering. In addition, Richtermeyer suggests selecting a minor that complements studies in accounting, such as information technology. Acquiring foreign language skills or learning about entrepreneurship can also help students stand out from their peers.