“A career in accounting gives you an advantage that almost no other profession, to my knowledge, has. (i.e) the ability to work in any industry of your choice. For a simple reason that all forms of business need accounting. To like accounting, you have to be good with numbers, logic, and data analysis. I should warn you that accounting jobs can be largely monotonous, especially in large corporations, as you become a small part of a huge process. The same is not true if you are in a managerial position in the corporates and small and medium-sized enterprises. Highly qualified accounting professionals like CPA- Certified Public Accountant, ACCA, and the like, have a large scope of work ranging from accounting to auditing to consultancy. I would suggest you take up a short internship and experience real-life accounting by yourself before choosing accounting as your career path. My teacher jokingly used to say accounting is the most widely understood language in the world.”
Accounting Career Path Outlook
Whether you’re a new high school graduate or an established adult wanting a different career path, we cover the basics of what it takes to start your journey to become any kind of accountant you want to be. Below is a comprehensive summary of what to expect and how to begin!
There are many different types of accounting, and the two main fields are private or public.
Private accountants or accounting firms are hired to work solely for one company to oversee the financial operations, risk management, taxes, and sometimes payroll, depending on the business model.
Public accountants or accounting firms focus on ensuring the accuracy of financial documents required to be disclosed to the public by the individual or corporation. They offer auditing, tax, advisory, and consulting services to multiple clients, acting as an independent third party.
There are four public accounting firms that are known as “the big four.” As global giants of the industry, there are endless career paths with all four companies, allowing you to travel or live in a new country.
- Ernst and Young
- Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG)
- Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PWC)
Recent statistics predict a 4% growth in the employment of accountants and auditors between 2019 and 2029. From employing about 1,436,100 people in 2019, the industry projects to accommodate about 1,497,000 accountants and auditors by 2029. This points to about 125,700 vacancies each year over the next decade.
What Fuels the Demand?
As the economy grows and industries expand, the demand for accountants follows suit. Numbers determine growth, and numbers are synonymous with accounting. A growing economy facilitates the expansion of existing companies and the establishment of new ones.
With each such move, there are financial records to be prepared, analyzed, and reported. Even with the automation of routine accounting tasks, professionals will still be required to interpret the numbers and advice the companies accordingly.
We also have more private companies going public. Such IPOs (Initial Public Offering) significantly increase financial reporting, calling for more accountants. Companies are also going beyond their borders. Global trade, acquisitions, and mergers bring out a complex dimension relating to permits, fees, taxes, and so on, which accountants are expected to handle. The dynamics of accounting could change with time and technology, but the accountant’s role remains undaunted.
Education Requirements for Accountants
Now that we’re certain that the accounting career path is here for the long haul let’s look at the academic requirements that will usher you into this field. The basic requirement here is a degree in accounting. Different colleges may frame it differently. Some refer to it as a degree in commerce or finance and then include accounting courses. Either way, it gives you a solid base in the accounting world.
Additional courses in this sector include:
- ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants)
- CFA (Certified Financial Analyst)
- CFP (Certified Financial Planner)
- CMA (Certified Management Accountant)
- CPA (Certified Professional Accountant)
These additional courses sharpen the accounting skills and allow you to work in different jurisdictions such as in a different state, country, and even overseas.
It is possible to start as an accounting clerk with only a high school diploma, then learn on the job. Should you get such an opportunity, ensure that you commit yourself to continuous learning. Take up online courses, evening classes, or even formal online learning. As in any other career, the papers do count. Skill counts, but the academic papers open the doors for you to show what you’re capable of.
Jobs in the Career
Accounting involves crunching numbers, analyzing and interpreting them to get a picture of how the business is fairing, and advice on the way forward. That said, there are a variety of jobs that you can take up in this field.
Every company, no matter the size or sector, needs an accounting arm. Whether in retail, transport, real estate, legal, medical, marketing, construction, or any other, they need someone to make sense of the numbers.
You can either work in an accounting firm or an accounting department of an organization. Established companies mostly have an in-house accounting department, while smaller companies outsource the accounting function to a financial firm. This means that a career in accounting allows you to interact with different companies in other sectors, and the exposure is invaluable.
The specific jobs available in this career path include:
- Financial reporting
- Internal auditing
- Budget analyst
- Cost accounting
- Tax consulting
- Forensic accounting
The roles are interrelated so that you can shift from one to the other. Lateral career moves are common in accounting. Gaining various skills makes you more marketable and puts you a step ahead on the career ladder.
Benefits of an Accounting Career
There are several upsides when you choose a career in accounting. In addition to a median annual salary of $69,350 according to a 2017 analysis, it allows you the flexibility of working in various sectors. If you’re passionate about sports, for instance, you can find your way into the accounting department of a sports club.
If culinary matters appeal to you, you can seek employment in a hotel and perhaps learn a thing or two about food even as you crunch the numbers. Just being in the environment of something that you love makes your job more pleasant.
If you’re working for an accounting firm, you can choose the companies you want to work with. It could be the brands you like or the sectors you’re interested in. by the end of the day, you’ll have diversified your knowledge beyond accounting. Should you opt to start a business in the future, this acquaintance will come in handy.
So, Is Accounting a Good Career Path?
If you were sitting on the fence regarding your career path, we hope that you’ve gained essential clarity on what it means to be an accountant. If you have a goal of starting your own business, you can start an accounting firm. Alternatively, you can borrow from the information acquired in our job to diversify to another sector. Either way, your proficiency with numbers will open doors to a productive and fulfilling career.