The field of finance and accounting is an essential pillar of the business sector, as many organizational achievements are measured in financial growth. Students choosing a college major should understand that knowing the ins and outs of accounting and financial management are marketable skills for numerous careers.
To understand why a major in accounting can be a beneficial career step, it is helpful to assess the reasons students choose to pursue a bachelor’s in accounting and the strategic and business skills it provides.
Reason #1: You Have the Appropriate Skills & Personality Traits for Accounting
Pursuing a career in accounting requires the necessary education and work experience, but there are also important skill sets and personality traits that can give future professionals an advantage as they enter the field of finance and accounting.
Valuable Skills and Attributes for an Accounting Career
Attention to Detail
Professionals in accounting and finance benefit from certain skills that inform the meticulous work they do and instill confidence in their clients and employers. The tasks accountants regularly perform require precision and focus in addition to knowledge of business and economic theory. This is a career in which attention to detail is critical.
Organization and Time Management
Clients hire accounting professionals to handle the complex financial management tasks that they are unable to do themselves. They expect an accountant’s work to be accurate down to the smallest detail and delivered on time. Therefore, it is important that finance professionals be highly organized and diligent about time management.
Not all of the challenges that accounting professionals face are black and white. Successful accountants are creative thinkers who must be able to take a unique approach to uncover solutions for complex financial problems.
Managing the finances of any entity, whether it be a private corporation, public organization, or individual, requires discretion and the utmost professionalism. The financial information they are privy to needs to remain private and secure at all times because potential threats can jeopardize an organization’s business or the financial stability of an individual.
Since accountants are often the only ones who have access to private account information, as well as data regarding revenue, income, expenditures, and investments, it is essential they be honest, trustworthy, and reliable. Exhibiting these attributes will serve to establish confidence between accountants and their clients while building their reputation and professional image.
Reason #2: You Want Vast Career Possibilities
Another reason why you should major in accounting? The versatility that accounting professionals have when choosing the direction of their careers. Managing money and assets is an integral aspect of running a company or monitoring personal finance, which is why accountants can work for virtually any business in any industry. This is a profession that will always be in demand because there will always be a need for astute and qualified accountants. To embark on a career in accounting is to open your professional experience to a wide range of opportunities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected the demand for accountants and auditors to increase by 6%, or 90,700 new jobs, from 2018 to 2028.
Possible Settings You Can Work in as an Accounting Graduate
Accountants are employed by the government at the local, state, and federal levels. Their main duties involve managing government revenues and spending while ensuring that laws and regulations are followed. They also perform auditing functions for government agencies, private businesses, and individuals in accordance with taxation laws and other regulations.
Forensic accountants are often hired by government agencies to investigate white-collar crime. Accountants working within the federal branch may be employed by the Department of the Treasury, Government Accountability Office (GAO), Internal Revenue Service, or Federal Bureau of Investigation. Other positions at the state and local levels are required to perform similar tasks in accordance with the particular regulations in their respective jurisdictions.
Working as a government accountant requires a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance, and some employers encourage attaining additional certifications, such as Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM), or Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP). According to the BLS, the median annual wage for government accountants was $68,420 as of May 2018.
Accounting firms are another avenue accountants can pursue. Many of the professionals employed at accounting firms are certified public accountants (CPAs). The CPA license signifies they have met state requirements to provide accounting services to the public. Accountants working at a firm are usually part of a larger staff that carries out a broad range of duties, including preparing income tax returns, bookkeeping, auditing the financial records of individuals and corporations, consulting clients on expenditures, monitoring financial trends, and managing accounting data systems.
Entry-level positions require a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a similar field, while higher-level ones require a master’s degree and additional experience. According to the BLS, accountants holding these positions earned a median annual wage of $70,640 as of May 2018.
Accountants who choose to work in a corporate setting perform an array of financial functions for business managers within their organizations. Corporate accountants are responsible for preparing financial documents, budgeting, evaluating performance, managing company assets, monitoring cash flow, and planning for the future of their organizations by investing in stocks and bonds. Specialized positions for accountants in this work environment typically require a bachelor’s degree, strong analytical and technical skills, and an in-depth knowledge of financial theory and accounting practices.
A financial analyst is a specialized position focusing on developing a company’s financial strategies, recommending investments, and studying business and economic trends. The median annual wage for financial analysts was $85,660 as of May 2018.
Financial managers take a supervisory role in examining and managing the financial health of their organizations. They are responsible for monitoring the employees who prepare financial statements and reports, making sure legal and compliance requirements are met, reducing company costs, and helping to make financial decisions based on data analytics. This position earned a median annual wage of $127,990 as of May 2018.
The many career opportunities available to accountants expose them to the principles of business, investing, and private finance. Accounting professionals can apply this experience in their entrepreneurial endeavors. Whether starting an accounting firm or creating a business that fills the gaps in services offered by other firms, accountants can use their knowledge of individual and corporate finance to put their ideas into action, market their unique products or services, and become successful business owners.
Entrepreneurs in the field of accounting typically have previous work experience, which helps them plan their business strategies and assess and avoid the risks associated with starting a company. The salaries vary for entrepreneurial accountants based on the performance and success of their businesses; however, with hard work and an effective business strategy, the earning possibilities of entrepreneurs can be endless.
Reason #3: You Want to Use the Latest Technologies
Graduates of accounting programs will be entering a field that continues to change and advance with the latest technologies. As businesses evolve with these changes, the need for expert accountants who have knowledge of and experience with technological trends will continue to increase. The following innovations will bring exciting possibilities and challenges to businesses and the field of accounting.
Some accountants and accounting firms find cloud computing to be a cost-effective alternative to implementing in-house IT infrastructure. Cloud applications and services are deployed over the internet, enabling accountants to utilize the technology remotely from any location at any time. Adoption of cloud computing services by accounting firms is driven by the same factors generally encouraging a shift from on-premise infrastructure to the cloud: scalability, reduced support and management costs, collaboration efficiency, and mobility.
The rise of automation in the field of accounting is another technological trend that brings new, exciting possibilities to accountants for expanding their career focus. While automation may be seen as a threat to some workers and businesses, it allows accountants and financial professionals to save a substantial amount of time used to complete repetitive and transactional tasks.
A major part of an accountant’s work involves gathering data, whether that be while preparing taxes or compiling audit evidence. Automation provides an alternative to tedious routines such as data entry by generating complete datasets and importing client financials and business information. This allows accountants to expand their roles and the value of their profession. They can shift their attention to attaining more specialized skills, such as performing data analysis, evaluating and recommending financial strategies, and providing value-added services.
Blockchain technology has the potential to lead to major changes in the financial and accounting industries. Blockchain is a type of distributed ledger technology that enables users to enter and modify economic transactions via an encrypted, transparent shared ledger.
One of the most intriguing aspects of blockchain technology in accounting is that it is practically impossible to destroy or falsify encrypted transaction entries once they have been recorded in the ledger. Companies also stand to benefit from this technology because it aids in providing an automatic and more efficient method for verifying the data behind financial statements, reducing time and costs for performing audits, easily proving the integrity of electronic files, tracing business processes over multiple individual departments or companies, and creating secure and efficient smart contracts.
Different Types of Accounting Degrees
If you are considering pursuing a degree in accounting, different types of accounting degrees range from associate to doctorate programs. Graduates holding associate degrees are qualified to pursue entry-level assistant and clerk roles, while professionals with doctorate degrees in accounting typically hold positions as educators or top executives. Students looking to work in accounting roles more typically earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees in accounting.
- Bachelor’s degree in accounting. An online bachelor’s degree in accounting provides the foundational knowledge in accounting practices and principles needed to start or enhance a career in the field. Courses in bachelor’s degree programs typically cover topics such as accounting information systems, auditing, financial reporting, and forensic accounting.
- Master’s degree in accounting. An online master’s degree in accounting provides advanced training in core accounting practices, as well as areas such as tax planning, strategic accounting, and regulations. Master’s degree programs may also prepare students for the CPA exam.
- MBA in Accounting. An online MBA in Accounting combines a core business curriculum with advanced training in topics such as financial statement analysis, forensic accounting, strategic accounting, and tax planning. MBA in Accounting programs may also prepare students for the CPA exam.
Start Your Accounting Career with a Bachelor’s in Accounting from Maryville
Attaining a quality education and developing specific skills in accounting can be the start to a career in business and finance. Why major in accounting? For those with a focused and detailed mindset who are curious and interested in solving complex problems, accounting may be the perfect field. As technology changes the ways in which businesses and money are managed, adept finance professionals who grow and adjust with the times have the chance to become specialized in their fields and expand their careers as entrepreneurs and business leaders.
If you are an aspiring business professional considering an accounting degree, discover how Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Accounting can help prepare you for a range of career possibilities in business and finance.