My Career as an Accountant

my accounting careerAre 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!

Overall

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.

Are you an accountant or did you consider becoming an accountant? What do like or dislike about your career in accounting?

Comments

  1. I think I told you before that I kind of “fell” into accounting. I was a finance major but ended up in an accounting internship at a large health insurance company. I started full-time with my team the week after I graduated and have been there ever since. I definitely would recommend getting an accounting degree, getting a CPA, and going the public accounting route if you can. If you don’t go that route, though, there are still options to you. A lot of the stuff I do is becoming more IT-related so being good at computers, learning software, working with data, etc. is all key to success. I hope to move more towards the data management/IT side in the future.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…9 Things to Consider Before Renting a Basement or BedroomMy Profile

    • That’s a great point. Seems like data management is a huge deal at my current job. Having good IT skills would be extremely valuable. It’s an area where I have a lot to learn!

  2. Hmmm….never thought about being an accountant and probably wouldn’t want to be one. Thought I like numbers, I like being a project manager more. I get to deal with many different projects that range from easy to extremely complex.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted…How to Pay for College A La CarteMy Profile

  3. I love numbers so I think being an accountant would be great. Plus, you basically know you’ll have some sort of job, right? Businesses need accountants regardless of whether or not they are computerized.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…How Would You Spend $6,500?My Profile

  4. I tried to avoid numbers as much as I could in college. I was interested in the social sciences, which is kind of total crap when it comes to finding an actual job in the real world. Definitely wish I would have made some different choices back then!
    Ryan @ Impersonal Finance recently posted…the classics of personal financeMy Profile

  5. One of the most charismatic professors I’ve had is an accounting prof. I think he created many more potential accountants simply because he was so passionate about debits and credits.
    Well Heeled Blog recently posted…Using Dropbox shared folder to track our joint financesMy Profile

  6. As do I – it doesn’t always com naturally to us finance/accounting-minded ppl!
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…The Weekly Quick Hits Roundup – Goals EditionMy Profile

  7. I really appreciate the job stability aspect of this career. The only thing that could be concern for me is outsourcing.
    Liz recently posted…My Career as an AccountantMy Profile

  8. Project management interests me as well. Maybe someday I can help manage various accounting projects.
    Liz recently posted…My Career as an AccountantMy Profile

  9. It’s true – just having a professor who is really passionate about their chosen field can really be really influencing as a student.
    Liz recently posted…My Career as an AccountantMy Profile

  10. I know what you mean – accounting actually wasn’t too intensive for math, but if I could really go back and do it over, I would have considered a degree in engineering!
    Liz recently posted…My Career as an AccountantMy Profile

  11. I think it’s really nice that you love your job! Some people don’t and they’re not happy in life because of that. Anyway, regarding work hours, do you find your more busy working at an accounting firm or at a specific company on average?
    Suburban Finance recently posted…The Stag ‘n’ Doe: Just Another Wedding Event or Just a Money Grab?My Profile

    • I can’t say my job is my dream job but it practical and there are many aspects that I do enjoy – It’s a stable, challenging jobs with lots of opportunity for growth. I think I was much more busy at public accounting!

  12. I took accounting classes in college for my business major and really enjoyed the classes, but thought investment banking was “sexier.” Now I wish I took the accounting path more seriously as I think there are so many great benefits to an accounting career and the biggest one I think is the versatility. There are so many paths you can take with an accounting background.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Music Mondays – Don’t Fear the ReaperMy Profile

    • I never took an investment banking class during school but I would think that would be really interesting. I do hear that the investment bankers work some insane hours (similar to accounting busy seasons). Long hours in accounting are not my thing!

  13. I took accounting as part of my business degree, but my school didn’t have an accounting major. I think it is a pretty practical major which has a good amount of job opportunities. My sister was an accounting major…worked at a big 4. The hours were pretty long and it seemed pretty stressful at times. The corporate culture didn’t seem that welcoming either and there seemed to be a glass ceiling. Anyways, I don’t know the details and I don’t know if it’s different out in the Northeast. But she doesn’t have a very positive outlook on the profession. And you mentioned engineering in your comments…I think that is another great major. I don’t think I would have been able to hack it though!
    Andrew@LivingRichCheaply recently posted…Image is Everything. Isn’t it?My Profile

    • Wow that’s really a bummer your sister isn’t having much luck on the corporate side- hopefully she will find a position and/or company where she feels valued and can grow. I’ve really enjoyed the corporate side so far.

  14. My mum is an accountant and I thought it was the most boring thing anyone could ever be (just being honest, not trying to crap on your profession – it’s a necessary one just not for me). I have a phobia of numbers, too.

    These days I definitely realise how important finance is and really wish there was more emphasis on it in schools, because who doesn’t want to learn about money?! (and I have a post coming up in a couple weeks on that)
    NZ Muse recently posted…Carnival of Personal Finance #455: Books, tax refunds, growing up and moreMy Profile

    • I totally understand. I always thought it seemed boring too and shocked myself when I chose the major. Luckily it hasn’t been nearly as boring as I imagined : )

  15. I love numbers and figures and budgeting but I never took any accounting classes. Now that I’m older and a little wiser, I wish I’d thought more about my future career path and taken into consideration a few other fields (business, real estate etc.) that I might be interested in. I guess it’s never too late to try something new.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted…7 Stupid Ways I (used to) Waste Money on GroceriesMy Profile

  16. I did work as a bookkeeper for an electronics store when I was 18 and it was SO fun!!! I could totally see myself being an accountant. 🙂
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted…Your Debt Does Not Define YouMy Profile

  17. Tax accountant! Good for you – my hats off to you!

    I’m a professional accountant who then moved into IT supporting financial applications, then IT project management, then auditing and now application security. You’ll never believe what started me in this field. I took a course in Business Machines in high school and learned how to add numbers on a calculator really fast which landed me a part time job in a large retail department store accounting department. I always liked numbers and was good in Math because of supportive teachers. It’s really freaky when you realize how much some small decisions influence you’re eventual career path.

    To answer your question about what I dislike about accounting: I got tired of the month-end close routine. But I don’t regret any of my training and work experiences. All have been interesting and have lead to great opportunities. Just lots of work! LOL
    DEBt DEBs recently posted…What does a B-day, a D-day and bloody cold St. Patrick’s Day have in common?My Profile