If you are already in the field of finance or are looking to make a career change, becoming a CPA is a promising career path. CPAs fill a variety of positions, from tax advisory services, to auditing and international financial reporting. There are also wide differences between working in the private, public and governmental sectors. It seems there’s something for everyone in this field, but it does entail passing the notoriously challenging CPA exam—so not just anyone can do it.
THE FACTS ON ACCOUNTING JOBS
Why go into accounting? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, accounting and auditing positions are “expected to grow by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.” In fact, they predict that over the course of the next decade the accounting field will produce roughly 279,400 jobs.
The BLS claims that the reason for this strong growth is “an increase in the number of businesses, changing financial laws and corporate governance regulations, and increased accountability for protecting an organization’s stakeholders.” Another reason, as seen in other fields we’ve profiled in this series, is the retirement of baby boomers and the slew of positions that are opening up because of this.
Here are some accounting-focused job boards and resources:
When it comes to standing out from the competition, here are three ways to set yourself apart in the finance field:
Computer skills: Become proficient in the accounting and auditing software relevant to the types of positions you are targeting.
Advanced degree: Earn your master’s degree in accounting or an MBA with an emphasis in accounting to allow for greater Advancement opportunities.
Specialization: Find a way to specialize in a certain kind of accounting. For instance, globalization has resulted in the need for accountants who have an expertise in services related to international trade, mergers, and acquisitions. There are also “forensic” accountants who focus on catching individuals and companies committing fraud. Many state and local law enforcement agencies hire forensic accountants.
GET OUT OF THE HOT SEAT
If you are you good with numbers and like paying attention to detail, accounting may be for you. It’s a prestigious field with a variety of specialties and a lot of room for advancement. It’s not too late to consider a change and get some career (and financial) stability in return.
Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a coach and author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy. Dr. Woody is president of the consulting firm HCI, sits on the Academic Advisory Board of the Florida International University Center for Leadership, and holds a PhD in organizational psychology.