Top Reasons to Choose a Career in Accounting
Jobs in accounting are popular for several reasons. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants in the U.S. earn a median annual salary of $70,500 -- nearly double the median wage of all occupations nationwide. The BLS also notes above-average growth projections for accounting jobs: 10% between 2016 and 2026, with 1.5 million employment in 2026.
There's a misconception that accounting is boring, but in reality the field offers a range of interesting career choices. Certified public accountants, or CPAs, often operate their own businesses and provide financial and tax-related services to organizations and individual clients. Another branch of accounting, auditing, focuses on identifying errors and discrepancies in financial records that indicate mismanagement. These occupations play an important role in the country's overall economic health. For this reason, experts predict strong demand for jobs in accounting in the years to come.
Our guest author, Susan Lowe, is a licensed CPA in the state of Massachusetts. Lowe currently works as a financial executive for nonprofit organizations that promote social advocacy and health and human services. With over 20 years of experience working in accounting and finance, Lowe shared with us what she believes to be some of the greatest benefits of working as an accountant. Seeking accounting career information? Read on for some of the top reasons to pursue a job in the field.
As an Accountant, You Are Part of a Large Network of Other Professionals
Accounting professionals are supportive of their colleagues. From the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) to the state societies, you will have numerous opportunities to network, both in social settings and professional settings. You will always have resources to help answer that tricky accounting question or get career advice. You will be able to find mentors and be a mentor. I consistently find that those in the accounting field are open, friendly, and supportive of helping others advance in their careers.
You Have Opportunities to Work in Any Industry You Choose
While many accounting majors start their careers in public accounting and remain in this sector, there are so many other options and career paths you can consider! Every company, whether a Fortune 500 or a small nonprofit, needs accounting support. You can specialize or generalize -- be a tax expert or a CFO, work as an auditor or be the auditee, work for the government or help a company comply with government regulations. You will have vast opportunities to determine a path that is best for you. The skills you develop are in demand.
For example, in the nonprofit sector, where I focus my career, I have worked for organizations in global health and human rights (gaining international experience), special education, and human services. I have worked at smaller organizations with broad responsibilities beyond accounting to larger organizations with more narrowly focused duties. There are limitless growth opportunities -- you will be able to advance your career.
You Will Be a Lifelong Learner
As an accountant, you will need to follow regulations, which are always evolving. There is always something new to learn, and there are ways to grow professionally. The role of AI, the use of IT, and changes in the tax code are just a few examples to show the necessity for continuous professional learning. If you become a CPA, you will comply with ongoing continuing education requirements; if you are not a CPA, you will want to keep learning and attending continuing education sessions.
Your Roles Will Be Challenging
Because you will often work with other teams that have little understanding of what accountants do, you will be relied upon to offer professional guidance on numerous matters that impact a business. You may be asked things you do not know; in these instances, remember your networks and professional development opportunities. One of the best things about being an accountant is that each day brings new things. You will never have a dull moment as you tackle new challenges and face problems to solve.
You Will Be in a Profession That Is Respected and Known for Integrity and Ethics
Accountants are respected business professionals, and accounting is known to be one of the most trustworthy professions. You will become a trusted advisor to others where you work, and your opinion will matter in making business decisions.
You Will Be So Much More Than the Stereotypical "Bean Counter"
As an accountant, you will be solving real business problems. You will use your accounting education to provide accurate data for your company -- data that will be used in decision-making. You will ensure the integrity of the financial data for your company. You will work in partnership with others in your company, using your accounting knowledge and skills to help drive your company's success.
Over the course of my career, I have been able to broaden my skills. Because of the trusted business advisor role, I have had the opportunity to lead IT and human resources, head system implementations, and sit at the table for mergers, strategic planning, and board meetings.
Accounting skills are needed at every company, and every department within those companies is impacted by the work of the accounting team. As a practical matter, you will be able to make a great living in this profession.
About the author: Susan Lowe is a financial executive in the nonprofit sector. She has recently served in the role of chief financial officer for organizations with missions of behavioral health, human services, home healthcare, special education, and human rights. In that role, she has focused on finance, accounting, operations, and strategy. In addition to her work in the sector, she currently serves as the treasurer of the board for two nonprofits: Strategies for Youth and Pitch in for Baseball/Softball.
Susan holds a master of science in accountancy and business ethics from Bentley University, a graduate certificate in management and administration from Harvard University's Extension School, and a bachelor of arts degree in political science and economics from Bucknell University. She is a licensed CPA in Massachusetts and a chartered global management accountant.
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