How to Build Your Accounting Career

Last Updated on August 20, 2021 by Editorial Staff

There are many good reasons to pursue a career in accounting. You can work in a variety of industries because every company needs an accountant. This also means that it is a job path that offers solid career security. The first step is to go to college and get your undergraduate degree in accounting. You can start with the next step, networking, while you are still in college.

Network

Networking is something you should be doing throughout your life. Building relationships is at the core of business success, and you can start with your classmates and professors while you are still in college. You should also make an effort to join any professional organizations you are eligible for and to attend conferences and seminars if possible.

This is an excellent time to pursue an internship, which could lead to a full-time job after graduation. You should also be looking for mentors at this time. Mentors will be important to you throughout your career, and at this stage, you can learn from them about the different opportunities that are available for you in the accounting world and the steps you need to take to pursue them. Mentors can also help with networking, introducing you to the people you need to know to get the jobs that you want.

Have a Plan

Have a plan—but at the same time, be flexible. In fact, you need to be ready to throw the plan out entirely as you become more experienced and learn more about the world of accounting. For example, as a college student, your goal might be to work for one of the so-called Big Four accounting firms. After graduation, you might land a job with one of these firms and work there for a few years. However, you might then decide that you want to work in a specific industry or get some experience at a small company where you have more autonomy.

Eventually, you may want to aim to become the CFO at a business or go the entrepreneur route. Alternately, you may want to rise through the ranks at one company. Whatever route you choose, keep a short-term, five-year and long-term plan in mind, and revise them as needed.

Get an MBA

After you have completed your undergraduate degree and gotten a few years of work experience, consider getting an MBA. An MBA is an important and versatile qualification that can open doors of promotion and advancement that would not otherwise be available to you. At some companies, it is necessary to ascend to the top ranks. In particular, an MBA will enhance a career in consulting or management. If you are concerned about paying for advanced education, there are several avenues including taking out a private student loan. You can look online for more information on what loans might be available to you and what the repayment terms are like.

Consider Becoming a CPA

Becoming a certified public accountant is a path with a narrower scope than an MBA, but if you want to work as a forensic accountant, focus on corporate finance or primarily deal with taxes, a CPA could be the right qualification for you. Although it is not the right choice for everyone in the accounting field, you could even get both an MBA and a CPA, widening your employment options even more. Some programs are designed to allow you to earn credits toward your CPA while you work on the MBA. However, even if you decide that the MBA is not for you and that you will only pursue the CPA, this qualification will put you on the path to a more prestigious position, a higher salary and greater job security.

Keep Building Your Skills

Throughout your career, you need to keep building your skills in multiple areas. First, you should stay abreast of current technology. When you first enter the job market after college, you may have an advantage over some of your older colleagues in terms of your technological expertise, but be sure that you don’t take this for granted. Even in a more conservative profession like accounting, technology can change things quickly, and it can be easy to fall behind if you aren’t careful.

Secondly, you should make an effort to do different types of work. Whether you are working with a major corporation, a Big Four accounting firm, or a small mom-and-pop business, you should try to get experience in different divisions. If your job does not allow much room for you to work in other areas, you may want to keep up your continuing education or move on to another company after a few years.

Keep in mind that it’s on you to safeguard your career. This means gaining as many skills as possible to remain employable. Finally, you should keep building what is known as your soft skills as well. These are abilities like communication, problem-solving, and leadership ability. Ultimately, you will need a mix of hard and soft skills to rise to the top of your profession.