Your gift for working with numbers and knack for financial forecasting may lead you to an accounting career path, but how can you be sure it’s the right one for you?
Consider these five questions to determine whether you’re destined for a professional life as an accounting professional:
1. Do you communicate well?
Far more than just the ability to crunch numbers, the modern accountant needs stellar interpersonal skills. Part of your job is to take the complex financial information you analyze and explain it to others who aren’t fluent in accounting terminology. You’ll also be responsible for crafting reports and client emails, which means writing skills are imperative, too.
To advance your career, you'll also need to build a reputation as a problem solver. You can do this by demonstrating outstanding customer service skills as well as tact and diplomacy when interacting with customers, clients and coworkers.
2. Do you thrive on variety?
Accounting skills are transferable across a wide range of industries and in different work environments, from family-run small businesses to large corporations, and from governmental agencies to nonprofit organizations. If you are interested in accounting as a career, you can follow the path into public or corporate accounting or pursue a nontraditional route. For example, if you speak multiple languages and like to travel, you could try international accounting. If you have a knack for strengthening internal controls, internal auditing may pique your interest. Keep in mind that there are a multitude of accounting certifications you can acquire to create opportunities within this profession.
3. Do you have a technology or business background?
Multitask much? Accountants are expected to possess non-accounting skills, such as business acumen and information technology knowledge. When you choose accounting as a career, be prepared to engage in financial planning and strategy development. Your role will involve helping to steer the organization in the right financial direction. And in the tech realm, in addition to Microsoft Excel, many accounting professionals are also expected to know their way around enterprise resource planning programs, cloud-based financial reporting systems and database applications.
4. Do you have relevant work experience?
When starting an accounting career, it always helps to have at least some work experience. Consulting a staffing agency that specializes in accounting is a wise choice if you want both solid career advice from industry experts and placements that match your skill set and career aspirations. Staffing specialists are trained to find the right job for you, improving your marketability and strengthening your prospects in the job market.
5. Do you want great compensation and a bright future?
The accounting job market is strong right now, and not only does our annual Salary Guide show how starting compensation in this industry is set to go up 4.7 percent this year, but it can help you determine average pay rates by position and size of company.
Companies are bringing in interim professionals to complete projects and maintain productivity. They’re also conducting searches for full-time employees and turning to project professionals for their expertise in complying with new standard and to temporary-to-hire arrangements as a way to evaluate workers before hiring them for full-time positions.
Whether you’re drawn to the field for personal or professional reasons, there’s no denying it: Accounting as a career path is worth considering. The profession offers plentiful and diverse opportunities, with the demand for accountants spreading into every sector and industry.
This post was originally published in June 2015 and has been updated to reflect more current information.