So you’d like to add a little excitement to your life? Maybe derive a deeper purpose from your career? Perhaps you’ve decided that average is a better description for the middle of a group of numbers than it is for a job description. If this sounds familiar, you’ve probably also thought at one point, “How do I become an accountant?”
Accounting is a profession that’s been around since the dawn of numbers and has only become more complex and complicated over time. If you want to become an accountant here’s what you can expect from a daily perspective. You will generally work at your headquarters location, but occasionally can be sent on assignment to the client’s location. Hours are generally rigid at first, but become flexible as you progress through the ranks. Plan on 50-60 hour weeks at more established firms as you start out. Your life will mostly consist of running equations in spreadsheets and checking for balance totals. You will have to prepare summaries of data sets, and vouch for the accuracy of figures and statistics. It’s detail oriented work that keeps you busy all day long.
Most major accredited universities have a specific Accounting major. The major will include many classes that can help one become an accountant, but there might be additional general education requirements if completed at a formal four year university. Core accounting classes revolve around math, statistics and a few economics and business principles. Although a degree is not necessary for employment, discriminating employers whittle down a highly competitive field of new hires by comparing degrees. Without a degree, an individual will need to take and pass a variety of tests depending on which specialization of accountancy they want to focus on. Certified Public Accountants are licensed at the state level and focus on serving the public at large. A Certified Internal Auditor will usually become an accountant so that they can work exclusively with companies as an internal auditor. An individual with a Certificate in Management Accounting will usually have more experience at the individual and business levels and commonly works with payroll and employment related accounting. All classifications of accountants will find benefit in being versed in current communications and business ethics and will frequently need to employ aspects of marketing, networking and public speaking.
Applicants that want to become an accountant should be aware that accountants will always be in demand. The high demand has led to increased competition at the top of the field and makes the lower end of the market a bit more challenging to survive in. Jobs with the big four accounting firms tend to be located in densely populated metropolitan centers of business and politics, and will usually be able to offer a competitive starting salary that supports the higher cost of living of those city locations. $100,000 in salary plus benefits is a great starting sum for accountants. Many mid-level firms can usually handle around $40,000 to $60,000 of annual salary on an initial offer. Below that there are some hourly wage support positions in various accounting departments of large companies.