A career in the field of accounting is a good idea for any individual that has understanding of basic financial concepts and the ability to work with numbers. In order to build a reputation in the particular field, however, every potential accountant should acquire the necessary training and certification.
Interested in becoming an accountant or a taxation consultant? If so, you’ll need to get started by choosing the right educational opportunity and move on to perfecting your skills through the acquisition of additional certificates.
Step 1: Choose the Right Degree
The minimum education requirement for becoming an accountant is a bachelor’s degree in business administration or accounting. Needless to say, having a bachelor’s degree in accounting will give you access to entry-level positions. If you’d like to establish a solid career in the field, you may want to consider continuing your education until you acquire your master’s degree.
Depending on the state or the country where you’d like to practice as an accountant, you may be required to take additional courses and acquaint yourself with advanced concepts in the field. Take some time to research the career requirements, in order to plan your academic activities in advance.
People that are interested in accounting may consider specialisation in more than one field. A general degree in accounting is the standard route to go. Some people, however, may opt for an alternative specialisation. Some of the possibilities include:
- Auditing: a degree in the field of auditing is related to acquiring an accounting diploma, yet you’ll gain more specialised skills. A degree in auditing covers the basics of accounting, the principles of auditing and taxation. Ethics, data collection and organisation of evidence will also be included among the studies.
- Finance: a general degree in finance with a specialisation in accounting is another great opportunity. It gives you the chance to work as an accountant but you can also opt for another career in the field of business or finance. If you aren’t 100 per cent certain about becoming an accountant, such a general degree will be a much better pick.
- Taxation: a degree in taxation is most suitable for the individuals that want to build a career in the field of tax accounting. Tax accountants benefit from a lot of versatility because they can work with companies, organisations, charity foundations and individuals. Anyone who’s interested in pursuing a career in the field, however, should go ahead and acquire a master’s degree.
Step 2: Accountant or CPA?
Once you acquire a suitable degree from a reputable university, it will be time to start making some important decisions about your professional future.
The first important decision is about whether you should work as an accountant or a certified public accountant (CPA). Several major differences exist between these two professional possibilities.
To become a CPA, one must first acquire a degree in accounting from an accredited university and then pass CPA examination. The test itself is quite tough and it consists of four parts. The four components of the CPA exam include auditing, financial accounting and reporting, regulation and business environment.
On top of passing the CPA exam, future public accountants will also have to pass the Professional Ethics Exam and obtain at least 1,800 work hours under the supervision of a licensed public accountant.
The benefits of becoming a CPA are several. The prestige and stability stemming from a professional’s ability to pass successfully all of the required exams is an obvious and quite important advantage. CPAs also tend to benefit from higher career security than accountants that haven’t gone through this entire process.
Being a CPA can open a vast range of additional professional doors. Many chief financial officers and chief executive officers have started off as public accountants. Thus, if you’re looking for an opportunity to reach the top levels of the corporate hierarchy, going through the process will obviously make sense.
On the downside, becoming a public accountant is a lengthy and time consuming process. You should be prepared to study hard and dedicate many hours to academic activities. If you are serious about building a career in the field of finance, you should most definitely explore the possibility.
Step 3: Getting Hired for that First Job
The final step will be finding the right entry-level position that will give you practical skills and an opportunity to move forward.
An internship in a reputable company is a good idea, especially if that internship has the potential to turn in a full-time job. The payment itself shouldn’t be the main factor in the very beginning. Remember that you’re trying to build a resume and a reputable name will give you competitive advantage. Be strategic about this decision and keep your long term professional interests in mind.