Why Accounting? Top Reasons for the Career Choice

By Robert Half July 31, 2015 at 5:00am

Maybe you made this accounting career choice because you have a knack for numbers. Or you followed your father’s career path. Or you accidentally stumbled into the wild world of accounting and then discovered it was one of the best jobs in the United States.

Whether you’re just starting out or you’re an executive with decades of experience, can you recall what led you to this career choice?

The nature of the work

Almost half of the finance and accounting professionals who responded to a recent Robert Half survey said they chose this field because they liked the work.

Perhaps, they knew that problem-solving would give them job satisfaction, or that they’d really enjoy making strategic business recommendations. Or maybe they knew they’d thrive on the variety of industries and work environments that an accounting career would provide.

More than 2,600 finance and accounting professionals in the United States were asked, “Which of the following most closely reflects why you originally decided to pursue an accounting career?” Almost half (45 percent) said they liked the nature of the work and job duties.

Employment outlook and stability

For 21 percent of the respondents, the positive employment outlook and career stability of a finance and accounting career led to their choice.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows a bright future for accounting and finance professionals, with employment expected to grow 13 percent through 2022.

Variety of career paths

For another 20 percent, the wide variety of career paths within the field, such as private vs. public accounting, led them to their jobs.

From entry-level accountant to CFO or partner, from industry to nonprofits to government and all types of businesses in-between, accountants enjoy myriad opportunities.

Compensation and benefits

Good pay and benefits was the primary attraction for other survey respondents, and salaries are rising, with sign-on bonuses and other incentives also increasingly common.

The 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide offers a comprehensive look at salary data, along with a Salary Calculator to examine specific salary ranges for different positions.

A career choice that 'just happened'

The rest of the survey group picked other reasons for pursuing an accounting career, such as these responses:

  • “It just happened”
  • “Instructed by my parents”
  • “Good foundation for going into just about any business field”
  • “Liked the challenge and prestige of becoming a CPA.”

If nothing else, knowing why you chose this field — and having a good answer — can help you in your next job interview. “Why accounting?” may be one of the first questions you’re asked, so be prepared!

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Editor's note: This post was updated recently to reflect more current information.

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