Are you trying to decide what career to pursue? Have you ever considered becoming an accountant? I my nearly two years of experience, I’ve found my career both challenging and rewarding. I think it’s a career that anyone interested in business should seriously consider.
Why I Chose Accounting
For most of us, it’s very hard to know at the age of 18 or 19 what you would like to do for a living and pick a career. I happened to have a lot of friends who were studying accounting or business so I just followed them. I just started taking the business classes and realized I liked them a lot. Accounting seemed practical and I liked my classes in business so far. I really didn’t have a lot of good reasons to become an accounting major but just went with it.
Luckily for me, accounting has been a great career choice. I’ve had a variety of opportunities and feel that I am constantly challenged and always learning something new.
Starting your career in public accounting
Most of my college professors encouraged us to start our careers in public accounting. Public accounting is working at an accounting firm instead of working for just one individual company. At an accounting firm, you will work on a variety of accounting projects for different clients. Public accounting has two major fields: audit and tax. Anyone planning to work as an accountant in public accounting needs to decide what path they would like to take. If you get a job at a small accounting firm, you may get to do a little of both audit and tax.
Public accounting is a great way for young professionals to gain a lot of experience in a very short amount of time. The downside? Public accounting can require employees to work a crazy number of hours during their respective busy seasons. During busy seasons, it is not unusual for staff to be working 70 hours per week or more.
I started my career at a Big 4 accounting firm in tax. I decided to pursue the tax field because I enjoyed my tax classes. Tax work is challenging and I also enjoy following the political aspects of tax laws. Working in public accounting was grueling during the busy seasons and I realized it was not a place I was going to spend my entire career at. I got a ton of great experience and after 1.5 years, I left to go work in a tax department of a company.
Education and Certifications
Most accounting jobs require a bachelor’s degree. The curriculum for accounting can be challenging but not too horrible. You can also continue your education and get a master’s degree in accounting or taxation depending what you want to do with your career. A master’s of business administration (MBA) would also be another degree to consider when considering graduate school. I have seriously considered getting a master’s degree but have not pursued further education at this point.
Beyond college, it’s a very smart idea to consider getting a certification or license. Having a license will look excellent on your resume and make you a strong applicant for accounting jobs. For some reason, certifications seem to be extra important for accountants. If you are working in public accounting, the popular choice would be to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Becoming a CPA requires you to pass four separate exams and apply to your state accounting board for a license. I completed the CPA exams during my first year working and plan on writing more about my CPA exam experience in the future!
So far I’ve been very happy with my career as an accountant. The work is challenging and dynamic. I enjoy solving and analyzing complex problems and working on teams. Another great aspect of my job is job security. During the recession, my company never laid off a single person from the tax department. No matter how poorly the company was performing, the company could not really downsize the department. The work was still complicated and absolutely necessary so downsizing our department would not have only made things worse. If you are a student or considering going back to school for a new career, I highly recommend considering a career as an accountant.