As new or soon-to-be accounting graduates prepare to launch their careers after having their college classes and lives disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, they may be asking about timing. Is now a good time to be an accounting graduate? Are there job openings? Can they get an idea what starting salaries might be offered?
Yes, yes and yes.
The outlook for the accounting profession is strong, as the Robert Half Salary Guide points out, and job seekers in this field are finding themselves increasingly in demand. Companies are recruiting accounting students and entry-level candidates for accounting positions. They’re also providing on-the-job training and leadership development to set them up for a long future with their companies.
The demand has to do with an increase in retirees, along with globalization, economic growth and the ever-changing tax and regulatory environment. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 7% growth in the employment of accountants and auditors from 2020 to 2030, with about 135,000 openings each year, on average, over the decade.
Where are the accounting job openings?
An accounting degree can open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths in the many fields of accounting all over the country.
There are entry-level accounting jobs in public accounting; in the private sector; as well as in financial services, government, healthcare, insurance and technology.
According to the Salary Guide, the hottest roles in finance and accounting include accounts payable/receivable specialist, bookkeeper, controller, financial analyst, payroll specialist, project manager, senior accountant and staff accounting.
What about the starting salaries?
Just as accounting and finance jobs differ by title, skills, industry and company size, so will their salaries, which also vary from city to city. You can find starting salaries and the trends shaping the accounting sector’s hiring market in our latest Salary Guide, and you can localize your insights for a comparison with the national average.
What do companies look for in today’s accounting grads?
Syed Hussain, vice president of permanent placement services for Robert Half, says today’s new accounting grads have an advantage because of their education.
“While the fundamentals of accounting education have not changed, most colleges and universities now adopt more of a business perspective, producing more attractive graduates,” he said.
“Accounting is a great skill set to have, and companies need talented finance and accounting individuals.”
What are ways to stand apart from other job candidates?
Hussain offers these six tips for new accounting graduates:
- Choose your courses wisely — If you’re still in school, think about the accounting careers that interest you most and work with your adviser to find the courses that best position you for success in such roles.
- Get as much experience as you can — Degrees are valuable, but everyone you’re up against will have one, too. Explore accounting internship opportunities and short-term or contract work to help you gain real-world skills that will help you stand out among job applicants.
- Network, network, network — Whenever you can, meet people who can help you throughout your accounting career. Try online networking and virtual conferences, and join professional associations.
- Follow your passion — Evaluate accounting and finance jobs beyond the salary they offer. What do you really like doing? Are you interested in solving mysteries? Forensic accounting might be a good field for you. Do you like condensing data so it makes sense? Consider specializing in data analysis.
- Keep learning — Another way to stand out is with accounting certifications, such as the certified public accountant (CPA) license. These credentials show employers you’re committed enough to go the extra mile to further your career. It can also result in a salary boost.
- Work with a recruiter — Employment agencies can open up many doors to exciting accounting careers. Robert Half’s specialized recruiters know what jobs are out there — and what you need to be considered for them — and work with you to find the position and corporate culture that match your career aspirations.