High salaries, job security, and growth potential are some of the reasons people love accounting.
On the other hand…
A successful accounting career isn’t easy, it requires:
- attention to detail
This guide will help you decide if accounting is a good fit for you and your career.
What Makes a Good Accountant?
Basic Math Skills
As a future accountant, one of the first things to consider is that you’ll be working with numbers.
While accounting is much more than crunching numbers, you need to be comfortable with this aspect of your profession.
Budgeting and Financial Management
As you’ll be managing people’s finances for a living, you should have some experience managing your own finances.
Even more, you need to be able to understand the link between financial information and the performance of a business.
Problem-solving and an eye for detail are other prized qualities of successful accountants. You should enjoy solving mathematical puzzles, as well as be able to spot inconsistencies.
Logic should be one of your strongest points, as you’ll be earning your living analyzing financial data and drawing conclusions based on it.
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Don’t overlook the general perspective though – the main strength of an accountant is their ability to help a business owner turn their broad vision into reality.
There’s a reason why every accounting qualification includes an ethics component: your clients need to be able to trust you. Moral integrity is a must when handling other people’s finances.
Stay Up to Date on Laws
Know the rules and the legislative requirements, be on top of changing regulations and never advise clients to cut corners.
Being an ethical person at the start of your career will matter more than you think.
Keep in mind that in a modern business world, accounting does not just mean dealing with numbers. You’ll need to be well-versed in business in order to understand your clients and help them achieve their goals. You will also have to be up to date with the latest technology and software that can aid your work.
You may often find yourself in the position of explaining complex accounting issues to professionals from other fields. Your spoken and written communication skills are thus extremely important.
In your daily work, you’ll also find that both your memory and research skills play their part – you will have to rely on your existing knowledge as well as find new solutions.
When dealing with large amounts of data and complex problems to solve, often for various clients, being organized will make a big difference to your work day.
Being adaptable to change and good with people will also do wonders for your careers.
Remember that networking and good business relations are essential in attracting clients and job opportunities. You may act as an advisor to your clients on many occasions – and they need to be able to rely on you.
Are You Up for The Challenges?
While advantages such as:
- high wages
- diverse job opportunities
- low career volatility
would attract most people, not everyone can deal with the challenges of working in accounting.
Are You Ready for Busy Season?
You need to be prepared to work hard: long hours are a given, especially during tax season.
Sometimes urgent work may keep you at your desk through the night or the weekend – and work-life balance may become a challenge.
Will You Continue to Learn?
You should also be ready to spend many years in education, to work hard in order to obtain additional certifications such as the CPA, and to engage in continuing education throughout your career.
While difficult, these accomplishments will propel you towards better career opportunities, higher paychecks and prestige enjoyed by few in the field.
Before embarking on an accounting career, you should remember that this is a desk job with some tedious aspects to it, depending on the field you’re in.
The level of responsibility is very high – the data you enter will be checked by auditors and errors will have consequences.
On the flip side, you’ll be performing a difficult job that is crucial to the running of any business
What Field Should You Choose?
Once you’ve established that you want to be an accountant, there are a lot of career paths to choose from depending on your personality and goals.
High responsibility, variety and frequent travel are part and parcel of an auditor’s life.
On the other hand, if detective work and problem-solving sound exciting to you, you can be a forensic accountant and help investigate fraud and embezzlement.
Financial Planning, Consultant, or CFO
If you have a knack for business, you might enjoy working in financial planning or consultancy and helping businesses grow. At a higher level, you can drive a business to success through managerial accounting or a CFO position.
You can work for the government at the local, state or federal level, including positions with the IRS or FBI.
Own a Small Business
Alternatively, if you’d like to be your own boss, you can start your own accounting practice and offer accounting services to a group of clients.
If your strongest skill is preparing taxes, you can work in taxation and focus on helping clients prepare tax returns.
Public Accounting – Staff Accountant
You can also work in public accountancy as a staff accountant and progress towards a senior position, for example as a partner of an accounting firm or a CPA in private practice.
An accounting degree prepares you well for virtually any career in finance and business – all you have to do is work hard, network and seize the opportunities offered to you.
Contrary to the stereotypical view, accounting is a diverse field that can offer high levels of job satisfaction no matter what you’re looking for in your career.
So if you’re not scared of numbers and responsibility, if you’re ready to deal with financial problems and the people behind them, if nothing is more glamorous to you than business environments, if you’re determined, hard-working and not easily scared – welcome to the world of accounting.
You have all it takes to make it here!
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