For most, choosing a career is a momentous decision fraught with second-guessing and dread. I mean, you are basically picking what you’ll be doing for money for the rest of your life. For those curious about going into accounting, there’s a lot to consider. While not the flashiest of careers, it’s a stable, well-paying profession that can provide you with the stability you desire in life.
Whether you’re wrapping up high-school and thinking about college majors or looking back on 20 years of work and considering a career change, here are a few things to consider if you’re thinking about a career in accounting.
Given the global economic uncertainty as a result of COVID-19, very few — if any — professions are exempt from layoffs are furloughs.
That said, the nature of business and organizations practically guarantees plenty of accounting jobs for the foreseeable future. Every organization – for-profit or non-profit — needs accountants. Businesses, charities, governments at every level . . . they all need accountants to track the day-to-day financial transactions, plan and forecast the financial future, and keep up with ever-changing regulations. They also need trained accountants to interpret and analyze the numbers so operational strategies make financial sense.
As the global economy becomes more integrated and business and tax regulations become more complex, the need for well-trained accountants only continues to grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that accounting jobs will grow by 6% between 2018 and 2028. And that doesn’t just mean accounting jobs are fairly easy to find. It also creates leverage for you to create a really great career in a few different ways.
Remember the law of supply and demand? When something is in demand, we’re willing to pay for it, especially if it’s scarce. And while we wouldn’t say accountants are scarce, some research shows there’s actually a decrease in enrollment in accounting programs. Translation: Accounting jobs are increasing and accounting graduates may be decreasing.
A trend like that can do wonders for the average pay in an industry, which is already pretty solid. The mean annual wage for accountants and auditors in 2019 was just shy of $80,000. And remember, that’s just an average, and who wants to be average? As you move up in the organization or obtain more training and education, your pay will go much higher. There’s also plenty of room to take on new and exciting challenges.
You Do You
One of the great things about a career in accounting is flexibility.
The numbers are what they are; they don’t flex. But your career sure can. The same training and education can set you up for a wide range of accounting roles. Over time, you can move into new positions as you gain experience.
Financial accounting, management accounting, taxation, audit, forensic accounting . . . these are just a few of the options. You can choose your path in the accounting industry and you’re never locked into one thing. Because the skills are so transferable, you can move into a new accounting role at any point in your career.
Contribute to the Organization
One of the most rewarding aspects of a career in accounting is the chance to contribute. Accountants bring so much to the table and organizations just couldn’t run without them. And remember that plentiful job market we talked about earlier? That means you can contribute to an organization you’re truly passionate about and help it succeed.
If you have an image in your mind of an accountant hunched over a massive calculator — the kind with a paper printout — or the Dunder Mifflin accounting department hidden in the corner, you should know the industry is shifting. The accounting and finance departments are playing a bigger and bigger role in the strategic operation of companies.
The Industry is Evolving
Once upon a time, accountants spent their days making manual entries in a paper journal. We still make journal entries, but it’s a bit different now. As technology makes it possible to automate many of the manual processes, accountants are freed to focus on strategy and what the numbers actually mean for their organizations. They’re using their unique skill set to analyze the financial data and turn it into wins for the companies they work for.
No longer is the CFO Robin to the CEO’s Batman. In fact, with their knowledge of accounting and finance, many CFOs are considered the most important executives in their organizations. They guide the strategy of the company and decide how to use financial resources to come out on top.
If you’re thinking about a career in accounting, it’s well worth considering. Globalization and increasingly-complex tax and business regulations are upping the demand for good accountants. That demand creates a market that pays well and gives accountants several options for career paths and advancement. In fact, an accounting degree can take you all the way to the C-suite.
Accountants are employed by every business industry, non-profits, governments at every level, the IRS, and even the FBI. Not to mention public accounting firms and the many self-employment opportunities for entrepreneurially-minded accountants. While the current economic landscape is scary, the demand for qualified accountants means a level of job security that many other professions don’t have.
So, if you’re a numbers person, ready for a rewarding and interesting challenge, there’s no better time to get started on a career in accounting.