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18-Oct-2020 By - team

Is a career in accounting right for you?

Accounting was once one of the safest career choices out there. It ensured your employment, a good paycheck and success. However, with the avalanche of accounting students and tech advancements threatening to bring accountant tasks close to anyone, we must ask the inevitable question: Is accounting still a good career choice?

To answer, it is essential to see all the aspects of the situation. Since the accountant’s primary role is to deal with data that helps companies make huge decisions (a task that can’t be easily resolved without human factor), we can in whole certainty claim that we still need this profession and that it is a great career to choose.

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Is accounting a good career?

Accounting was once one of the safest career choices out there. It ensured your employment, a good paycheck and success. However, with the avalanche of accounting students and tech advancements threatening to bring accountant tasks close to anyone, we must ask the inevitable question: Is accounting still a good career choice?

To answer, it is essential to see all the aspects of the situation. Since the accountant’s primary role is to deal with data that helps companies make huge decisions (a task that can’t be easily resolved without human factor), we can in whole certainty claim that we still need this profession and that it is a great career to choose.

 

Why study accounting?

Here are just a few of the advantages of pursuing this occupation: Accounting is part of every business, non-profit or government organisation. It’s a highly regarded profession, with job security and opportunities for advancement. You can work as an auditor, bookkeeper, tax accountant, financial analyst, controller, accounting manager — you name it.

Almost half of the 2,600 finance and accounting professionals who responded to a Robert Half survey said they pursued this field because they liked the nature of the work and job duties.

Perhaps, they knew problem-solving would give them job satisfaction or that they’d really enjoy making strategic business recommendations. Or maybe they knew they’d thrive on the variety of options with regard to different industries and work environments that an accounting career would provide.

Some accounting professionals talk about how they like work that matters and never bores them. They have an expertise that gives them responsibility for operations, planning and decisions. And if they’re going to spend eight-plus hours a day at a job, it should be something they’re good at and enjoy.

 

Reasons Why Accounting Is Still a Great Career Choice

Stability

Accounting offers a stable rate of employment amidst economic fluctuations. Some professions take a beating when the economy dives. But not accounting.

Businesses need to keep track of their operations to be able to find ways to survive economic plunges. They need to report their earnings to the state and pay taxes, regardless of the economic situation. Managers need to furnish monthly or quarterly reports to the board regularly. Get the idea?

Unlike some other professions that are becoming obsolete due to tech advancements and industry/market changes, accounting has no chance of going away. On the contrary, every business will always need finances and a person proficient in managing them. And even though it sometimes seems that such a person can be replaced with a smartphone app or a computer, that is far from the truth. Accounting requires deliberation, which is a quality attributed to humans exclusively.

Accounting is a necessity in business. And with the massive business activity we have (and will continue to have), there’s just plenty of work for new and seasoned accountants.

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Compensation

Accounting professionals enjoy decent remuneration. The salary range varies as to your job description, level of experience, educational background, location and other factors.

According to PayScale, the average wage of an accountant in Australia is AU$55,046 per year. Still, that number increases when accountants gain skills of financial analysis and budget management, with the financial analysts earning about AU$71,299 per year and budget managers getting between AU$88,364 and AU$108,090. In the U.S. the average salary of an accountant is $49,545 per year.

 

Diversity

In accounting, you have a wide selection of fields and areas of practice to choose from. You can work as an employee with steady shifts and routine tasks if you want. Also, with sufficient qualifications, you can work freelance and have your own clients. Business organisations will need your expertise to prepare, analyse, or audit their financial statements. You can also work as an instructor in the academe; become a book author, a fraud investigator, or an information systems specialist.

 

Besides going high up, accounting is enabling you to go wide by offering an extensive range of different fields you can choose, depending on your interests. This is something you can do in your college years by opting for cost accounting, internal auditing, management accounting and forensic accounting, to name a few. Even later in your career, it is not too late to change focus and gain new certificates and skills.

 

You Can Grow and Improve

Gaining new skills and certificates will not only help you acquire a higher wage but to grow and improve on a daily level. For example, a popular course in Australia that enables you to get a certificate IV in accounting provides students with a wide spectrum of knowledge ranging from the specifics of organising accounting in Australia to using software essential for accounting. Since they communicate with clients a lot, accountants are often motivated to improve their social skills and even learn a foreign language if they work with clients from abroad.

 

It Opens New Doors

Accounting is the financial backbone of every business. Here, you get to interact with many people in your and other companies and forge fruitful business connections. This diversity will enable you, not only to move on to another department of your company, but also change your career entirely and go to another important position that includes the skills an accountant is proficient in, such as leadership, and organisational and management skills.

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The pros and cons of a career in accountancy

Pros of a career in accountancy

Interesting work.

Forget the clichés about bean counters toiling over stacks of musty financial records in sunless offices. Today’s accountants work on many different types of tasks. They often work in teams and many work in clients’ offices. Advances in technology mean many mundane activities have been automated, allowing accountants to focus on more challenging issues.

 

An exciting work environment.

Your colleagues will – most of the time – be clever, motivated, and share your passion for accounting.

 

No career ceilings.

A variety of career paths are available to accountants. These range from public accounting, to government and nonprofit careers, corporate accounting and academia. There are also many specialities such as tax, healthcare and environmental accounting. Accounting can also serve as a launching pad for careers in business, consulting, law, education, government and nonprofits.

 

Travel the world.

Accountants are in demand everywhere, meaning it’s relatively easy to get a work visa for, or even citizenship of, a foreign country. If you work for one of the globe-spanning accountancy behemoths, you’ve got a good chance of being able to arrange a tour of duty somewhere like New York or London.

 

Autonomy.

If you tire of working for The Man and want to be your own boss, you can join the heaving ranks of those accountants who’ve started their firms.

 

Work in your tracksuit pants.

Even if it’s something the big end of town has been slow to embrace, accountancy is a job that lends itself to telecommuting. Many self-employed accountants work from home offices and make themselves comfortable while doing so.

 

A healthy income.

While salaries vary depending on the field and employer, Australian accountancy grads can expect to start on a salary of around $50,000. There’s the very real opportunity to double or triple that within 10 years. Should you continue to climb the greasy pole, it’s possible you could end up earning hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of dollars a year.

 

On-the-job learning.

The accounting industry champions continuing education, which will help you keep your skills updated.

 

Free business education.

Accountants get an inside view of how businesses operate, and the mistakes business owners commonly make. This can come in handy as you move into the ranks of management. Or if you decide to hang out your own shingle.

 

Plentiful opportunities for career advancement.

The bulk of the baby boomers—many of whom are in top management positions—are expected to retire in the next decade. This means Gen Y accountants should have many more opportunities for rapid advancement than their long-suffering Gen X counterparts did.

 

Increasing diversity.

While once associated with middle-aged Anglo males, the industry in Australia has taken great strides in encouraging women and those from non-English-speaking backgrounds to get involved.

 

Cons of a career in accountancy

Long hours.

You can expect to work a minimum of 40 hours a week and a lot more than that if you’re trying to climb the career ladder. Even if you’re not a career-obsessed workaholic, you’ll still be expected to burn the midnight oil during busy periods of the financial year.

Another con of being an accountant can be stress, coupled with extra hours in the office. Although it is typically a 9-5 job, accountancy is, like many other industries, cyclical. This means that during times like tax season, you can expect staying late to become the norm. If you’re still getting qualified (as above) or if you’re pursuing a higher degree, this can really take its toll. On the plus side, for reasons of security, accountants can’t take their work home!

Accounting is typically a standard 9-to-5 job, except for certain times of the year with impending deadlines. The most notable deadline is April 15 for tax accountants. For most tax accountants, the heavy lifting starts after New Year’s Day right up to April 15.

During the busy season, long days and weekend work become the norm as accountants work to get their clients’ finances in order. But the plus side is that things slow down significantly after that time period. In this way, accounting careers offer some variety in the yearly schedule.

 

Travel.

Roaming across the country and globe can seem exciting when you’re young and single, but it can get draining when you’re not so young and trying to raise a family.

 

Stress.

Some accountants help manage multimillion-dollar enterprises. Even the humblest of suburban accountants are likely to be playing a crucial role in monitoring the financial viability of many small family businesses. So the pressure will always be part of the equation.

When you’re responsible for an organisation’s finances, there is bound to be some pressure. It’s just part of the game. But that pressure and stress can have an impact on your overall mental health and deserves consideration.

These negative experiences have a lot to do with where an accountant works and the specifics of their roles. It’s a safe bet to say, the more important your position is and the more money you work with, the more pressure you will face on the job. But whether that pressure results in negative levels of stress depends on your personality.

Try to assess your attitude toward pressure and heavy workloads honestly. If you don’t stress easy or don’t mind being a little high-strung, working as an accountant might not bother you. If you know you’re easily concerned, it’s possible that an accounting career isn’t the ideal choice for you.

 

The work can seem dull.

How many world-famous accountants do you know of? If you’re struggling to think of one, there’s a reason for that—accounting isn’t usually seen as a “glamorous” field. But recognition and glitz aren’t everything. The day-to-day work requires a lot of investigating and math, which can be boring to some but interesting to others.

This is one of those questions in which you’ll need to look within yourself and answer honestly about what works for you. Learning more about what accountants do on a daily basis will help you determine whether or not the work appeals to you.

 

Never-ending study.

Ever-changing tax laws and certification requirements mean that accountants must continue to learn throughout their careers. As a graduate, you’ll probably need to combine long hours on the job with getting a qualification from an accountancy body such as CPA.

 

Office politics.

Of course, this is an issue in every industry. But put a lot of ambitious, high-achieving types together, and you’re going to get ego clashes and turf wars.

 

Conformism.

Individualists may have a tough time in the industry because of its focus on teamwork and rules-oriented best practices.

 

Sedentary work environment.

Accountants—especially those in more junior positions—spend a lot of time seated in front of their computers.

 

Competing demands.

Accountants are usually assigned multiple projects at any given time. (You’ll need to learn how to prioritise and, when needed, learn to say no.)

 

Conservative culture.

Other industries may have loosened up in recent years, but the accountancy industry maintains a well-deserved reputation for staid respectability. Given the nature of the work and the expectations of clients, the industry is unlikely to change. If you’re looking for a workplace with ping pong tables and a casual dress code, you should consider other options.

 

Why pursue accounting as a career?

There’s no arguing the potential for growth and potential for accounting careers. For 21 per cent of the survey respondents, the positive employment outlook and stability of a finance and accounting career led to their choice.

Part of the job outlook is the growth potential and ability to move up the ranks in this profession. Career advancement will likely require you to pursue more accounting education or earn professional certifications, which open the door to opportunities.

The statistics shows that employment of accountants is projected to grow 10 per cent to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Right now, the accountant unemployment rate is at record lows, with jobless rates trending well below the national average for other specialised roles, such as auditors, financial managers, billing clerks, financial analysts and bookkeepers.

 

Is Accounting a Good Job?

Accounting today is one of the most promising professions there is. 2017 to date has seen double-digit growth in specialist consultancy positions across the Big 4 and leading consultancy firms. Salaries are also on the rise for Chartered Accountants, increasing by 10% over the last three years according to the Chartered Accountants Ireland Leinster Society.

As an Accountant, you can choose to work in general practice or areas such as:

  • Auditing – conducting independent checks on an organisations financial statements
  • Tax – dealing with Tax returns or advising organisations about tax
  • Corporate Finance – consulting businesses on mergers and acquisitions
  • Recovery and Insolvency – helping businesses if they enter bankruptcy or helping them avoid this
  • Forensic Accounting – Detecting and preventing fraud

 

Jobs in the accounting sector are plentiful within the above areas. It is always good to do your research and even speak with Accountants within the above sectors to give you an honest overview.

 

Job Satisfaction

A career in accountancy will also allow you to use many skills including leadership, problem-solving, team-building and communications skills with many accountants reporting that their ability to help and work directly with people gives them a great deal of job satisfaction. Many accountants play a huge part in ensuring many parties, including the health service industry and the national government achieve value for money as well as ensuring economic successes for many businesses.

Now that you’ve got a better grasp of the pros and cons of an accounting career take the time to evaluate whether this is the field for you. If the pros are outweighing the cons, you might want to take a closer look at how to prepare yourself for a job in this field.

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