10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Pursuing a Career in Accounting

As you take your first steps on the long, exciting, and rewarding journey of an accounting career, there is a lot you may be unaware of. In this post, we reveal a few things you should know before pursuing an accounting career.

As you take your first steps on the long, exciting, and rewarding journey of an accounting career, there is a lot you may be unaware of.

Nobody would want to invest in education and training only to find out later that the career was not meant for them. In fact, it is believed that a third of practicing accountants regret their choice, and 54% were working jobs completely unrelated to their degrees.

In this post, we reveal a few things you should know before pursuing an accounting career.

1. It’s not all about numbers

Accountants are not mathematicians. Though the popular belief says accounting is all about number crunching, CPA jobs involve much more than handling numbers. Advice and consultancy form most of what accountants do today.

They use their knowledge and skills to help clients pick the proper structure for their business, avoid unnecessary tax spending, and forecast their future cash flow.

2. You don’t have to be a math genius

One of the biggest misconceptions about accountancy is that it is all mathematics. Though math is crucial, it is only one of the required skills for accountants.

Today, accounting software such as QuickBook takes care of much of the math in any firm, and CPAs focus more on delivering guidance to clients.

3. There is a niche for everybody

The field of accounting is vast, with an array of options for those who want to start a career. An accounting graduate can become an auditor, enter marketing, teach others, start a new business and do a lot more.

Contrary to the popular belief that all accountants are the same, there are many career options, and your job can be easily catered to your area of interest. Those who master the basics of accounting can specialize based on their skills and preferences.

You can work across industries, from non-profits and construction to entertainment and fashion, as every company needs a finance professional. You can take up a broad range of certifications focused on different aspects of businesses, such as ACCA, CIMA, etc.

When you train as an accountant, you acquire skills that apply to multiple industries, enjoying the freedom to pursue a career in the field of your choice.

4. It is a seasonal business

The months of January to March represent the ending of the financial year and mark the ‘tax season’ as it is known among accountants.

While it is the busiest time of the year, it also means the rest of the year is a realtively easy time when you can get the work delivered before deadlines. Accounting is a predictable business where you know when you will be working the most and when you can head for holidays.

5. You don’t need a degree

Accountants generally have a degree, but not all of them have one. A degree in accountancy would help you skip some exams to qualify for practice, but you can become a professional without going to university.

With a large number of accounting courses available today, there is nothing to stop you pursuing the career of your dreams. You can also pursue certifications such as CIMA by just taking the exams.

6. Networking is key

Another common myth about accountants is that they are introverted business professionals who live in isolation. You might be surprised to learn that interactions, relationships, and networking are crucial for success. The nature of accounting is such that you need strong networking and relationship-building skills to succeed. Most of your career depends on your reputation among clients.

Right from the beginning, you must talk to your seniors, juniors, and peers and build strong relations with batchmates and professors to keep learning. You can benefit from asking questions and acquiring knowledge to support your profession.

Attend seminars and workshops to meet new people and connect with them. Your efforts in networking will ultimately pay off as people start recommending you, giving you consistent clients and work. Though finance is a sensitive thing, being open and friendly lets people trust you.

7. Your job can adjust to your lifestyle

Not everybody can afford to ditch their present responsibilities for a new job. A lot of you will hesitate to pursue this career if you have dependents. However, things don’t always have to be that way.

Many self-employed accountants manage their families and responsibilities while practicing their profession. It is also possible to personalize your accounting career to suit your changing lifestyle.

While some jobs require devoting your life to them, others may be flexible but don’t give the expected returns. An accounting career can be built around your desired lifestyle. You can make choices – working for an established firm or as self-employed, part-time or full-time, and private or public accounting.

8. Accountants are always in demand

As every business across every sectorneeds finance professionals, it is clear that these practitioners are always in demand. Accounting is a career option that is not going anywhere shortly.

While the advancements in technology and automation mean less calculation is left to humans, CPAs spend more time advising and consulting on business strategies, helping their clients remain profitable and efficient.

With 138,000 accounting firms in the US alone, there are plenty of jobs to go around for everyone.

9. Preparing for the CPA is worth it

The CPA (Chartered Public Accountant) exam, which comprises 14-hour long computer-based evaluation across four sections, seems daunting to most. It is a big mistake to ignore the importance of this test in making a successful career in the field.

Though not all companies want their accountants to pass the CPA, experts agree that acquiring the CPA license improves job and income potential to a great extent. So, if you are serious about your accounting career, it is worth investing some time and energy into taking the CPA exam. With the extensive range of courses and study materials available, it should be pretty straightforward for most people.

10. Accounting is almost recession-proof

Though nothing is 100% recession-proof, accounting is a field that falls quite close to it. During hard times, departments such as marketing and sales are the worst hit.

Cash Flow problems translate to more load on the finance department to ensure optimum usage of the available capital to minimize the impact of troubles on the company's financial position.

These are some of the things aspiring accountants should know about before starting their career in accounting. We hope these facts help you feel more confident about conquering this career.

You can follow Bryan on LinkedIn or check out his website for great CPA study tips and insights.

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