What is the employment outlook for the accounting profession? In a word, it is strong. In two words, it is very strong. You get the point. If your interest is piqued, read on to find some questions—and answers—about careers in accounting.
What Is Accounting?
In the most general terms, accounting is the documentation and analysis of an entity’s cash inflows and outflows. As a practical matter, accountants spend the vast majority of their time poring over large sets of raw financial data. They are then expected to compile it and present it in a way that makes sense to clients or managers who may have little or no accounting background. If you have any aversion to numbers or dislike the idea of boiling complex information down to its essence, accounting may not be the field for you.
How Much Schooling Do I Need to Become an Accountant?
At minimum, you will need bachelor’s degree in accounting from an accredited college or university. After you have completed your undergraduate studies, you may also want to pursue a master’s degree in accounting to expand the breadth and depth of your knowledge in the field.
What Do I Need to Study in School to Become an Accountant?
Accounting will be your major. This means you will likely need to complete courses in financial accounting, managerial accounting, accounting periods and methods, auditing theory and practice, individual federal income taxation, state and local taxation, income taxation of business entities and accounting ethics, among others. You will also need to take some non-accounting business classes, such as corporate finance, organizational theory and management, microeconomics, macroeconomics, business law and business statistics.
Where Can I Work As an Accountant?
Almost anywhere. Really, almost anywhere. The strength of the employment outlook for the accounting profession will allow you quite a bit of latitude in deciding where you want to work and what specific type of accounting you want to do. You will have the opportunity to work at professional services firms, corporations, non-profit organizations, agencies at all levels of government, small start-up companies and virtually any other type of organization you can imagine. No matter where you choose to work, the high demand for accounting professionals will offer you a great deal of job security.
Are There Any Professional Designations for Accountants?
Yes. Several, actually. The two most common professional designations accountants obtain are certified public accountant (CPA) and certified management accountant (CMA). CPAs focus primarily on financial accounting and providing accounting services to external clients, while CMAs typically work as in-house accountants who advise a specific organization’s management team about how best to achieve the organization’s financial goals. Both designations require prospective designees to possess a certain amount of work experience and pass a grueling, multi-part exam. However, if you complete these requirements successfully, you will drastically expand your universe of potential employment opportunities.
If you are an intellectually curious person who enjoys solving complex business-related problems, the employment outlook for the accounting profession should be reason enough for you to consider pursuing an accounting career.