So you’ve decided that a career in accounting is right for you. It’s a good career choice because it’s a job that’s always in demand. Correctly documenting business transactions is just as important as making money. In order to be successful, you must attain a strong knowledge base via education and training. Accounting and Finance professionals have to be critical thinkers who apply research and experience while understanding business management techniques. This guide will explain how to become an accountant and the various career options available.
Where to Begin
In addition to having a knack for numbers and figures, an accountant must attain technical skills and the ability to synthesize and analyze data. You’ll learn finance law and will have to pass an ethics exam before gaining your certification. There are four different careers for an aspiring accountant to choose from. They have their own unique qualities and career possibilities. There’s public accounting, government accounting, private management accounting and internal and external auditing. Some people have a passion for business finance while others prefer to conduct audits or work for non-profits. The career possibilities are endless and in demand. It’s also a good idea to begin developing relationships with trade organizations like the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants or the Association of Independent Accounting Professionals to secure volunteer opportunities.
You can begin your accounting career at a community college, technical school or four-year university. Do you want to attain entry level status, mid-level status or acquire an executive position? An accounting certificate or associate’s degree will open the door to an entry-level job. You’ll learn the basics of accounting and finance, technology, software and record keeping. To become certified requires higher education.
A Bachelor’s degree in accounting will give you a more complex understanding of intermediate and advanced level procedures. You’ll be able to enter the job market with a variety of entry or mid-level career options at your fingertips. If you’re considering a graduate degree, be mindful that most states require 150 credit hours in order to serve as a CPA.
A master’s degree enables you to pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Accountancy (MAcc). A MAcc will prepare you to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA). An MBA will give you a deeper understanding of business strategies and management tools. So you’ll want to consider where your specific area of expertise will be.
Types of Jobs
As you pursue your education you’ll be determining which field you would like to pursue. Which area fits you best?
• Public accounting is the most diverse field. It includes consultants, tax advisers, bookkeepers, auditors and forensic accountants who analyze criminal activities like fraud.
• Management accountants are responsible for analyzing financial data and creating budgets and maximizing expenditures. They are an important part of a company’s internal planning unit and they are responsible for creating reports and working closely with upper management staff.
• Internal auditors are hired by an organization to manage its business activities and especially focusing on detecting inefficiencies and criminal activities. They are responsible for advising management on the best way to run the company.
• Government accountants work for government agencies. Their goal is similar to a forensic accountant in that they are financial watchdogs. The people who choose this career path often end up working for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
In order to determine your career path, dig deep within yourself to discover the work environment or organization type that you’d like to work for and the amount of education you wish to seek. This will determine the money you can make and your success. Those who get at least one professional certification earn higher salaries than accountants who don’t become a CPA or MBA. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported that in 2013 the starting salary for new grads in accounting was $53,300. An accountant with a certification can earn close to $102,393. The average salary for a CMA is $102,000 and CMA’s can earn nearly $98,000 a year respectfully.