Accounting is a career path that allows you to use your skills with numbers and logic to help people and businesses make the most of their money. While many people think accountants simply help balance the books, there’s much more to the job, from understanding regulations to building financial strategies, so the profession is a little misunderstood. Here are some things you should know about accounting careers, so you can decide whether they are right for you.
There’s a skills gap
While unemployment is on the rise in many industries, there is a skills shortage in accountancy, which means if you have the right qualifications in this area, you’ll be in demand. Nobody wants to go into a role where they have to struggle to be noticed among a sea of competition, so it’s worth looking at areas like accountancy where there is a shortage.
There are lots of opportunities for career development
Once you pass your undergraduate degree and become an accountant, that doesn’t mean you’ve reached the peak of your career. There are lots of places that you can go next, depending on your skills and what you enjoy doing.
Many people who work in accounting go onto become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), which allows them to represent clients in cases with the IRS, conduct audits, and do more in-depth tax work. To do this, you’ll need to pass a CPA exam, which is in four parts:
- Financial accounting and reporting
- Audit and attestation
- Business environment and concepts
Once you complete the first exam, you must do the others within 18 months, and many accountants take private courses to help them through these exams.
Another option is to get further education and study for an online masters degree in accounting, which can be done while you’re working. This will allow you to go into more specialized roles, such as:
- Forensic accounting
- Corporate finance and accounting
- Business intelligence
A master’s can help you learn more complex accounting skills, which can take your career to the next level, and help you decide what to do next.
You need several different skills
Accountants don’t just need to be good with numbers. It takes a specific type of person to succeed in accountancy. Some skills that will be vital to your role include:
- Communication – you will need to be able to explain complex financial concepts to people in a simple way
- Initiative and self-motivation – accountants often work on their own and need to think out of the box
- Integrity – when you are dealing with people’s finances and personal information, you need to be trustworthy and show integrity
- Multitasking – accountants will often juggle multiple clients and conflicting needs, so you have to be able to multitask and work hard when required
Many people don’t realize how complex accounting can be, and the sort of all-round personality potential accountants need to have to get ahead in this profession.
Accountancy isn’t likely to be affected by automation
When you want to do your tax return or run payroll, it’s likely a lot of the steps are automated, which might make you assume that accountancy is under threat by automation. However, accounting is a job that’s not under threat from AI (artificial intelligence). Although a lot of the tedious tasks have been taken over by software programs, it doesn’t mean all accountants will be out of work soon.
The main reason for this is that accountants don’t just count money, they analyze data and consult with clients and businesses to create solutions. This simply can’t be done by a robot, meaning that accountancy is still a safe career choice.
Accountants earn good salaries
Becoming an accountant is a good option for those who want to earn a decent salary and find jobs that tend to be stable and long-term. The average salary for an accountant is just over $50k, but as you get more experienced, go into a specialism and gain further qualifications such as a master’s, you have the potential to earn more.
It’s also important to look at the job market for accountants. Projections show that demand will grow for accountants in the next ten years, which means that accountancy firms will offer higher salaries to attract the best talent. If you have the right skills and experience, you have a better chance of making a good salary.
You should also consider what might happen to your career in an economic downturn. There’s never a guarantee that specific roles will be safe if there’s a recession, but accountants are always needed, perhaps even more so when times are tough. As a skilled accountant, you’ll have valuable skills that could be used in a wide range of roles.
Some cities have a high demand for accountants
Qualify as an accountant, and you can work pretty much everywhere and for all sorts of businesses. However, some cities have more vacancies for accountants, especially those with a thriving business scene or lots of startups. New York is the area with the most vacancies, as it’s the finance capital of the USA. At the same time, Washington, DC, is an excellent location for those who want to work in government departments or do forensic accounting. Seattle is also a city with a lot of accounting vacancies, thanks to its thriving tech scene and entrepreneurial population. However, wherever you want to settle, if you have skills such as a master’s in accounting, you’re likely to find several jobs that are suitable for you.
Accounting is a career choice that many people think they know all about, but it’s quite different from general perceptions. You aren’t just preparing tax returns and making spreadsheets all day, many specialist roles within accounting are varied and interesting. It’s a well-paid profession that has roles that tend to be quite secure, even during difficult times, so if you’re looking for a new career, you may want to consider learning more about accounting.