The field of finance and accounting is an essential pillar of the business sector, as many organizational achievements are measured in financial growth and rising stock prices. Students choosing a college major should understand that knowing the ins and outs of accounting and financial management are marketable skills for numerous careers.
Those wondering why they should major in accounting will discover that earning a bachelor’s in accounting can provide them with the strategic and business skills they need to excel in any industry.
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, a public organization, or an 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 10 percent, or 139,900 new jobs, from 2016 to 2026.
Possible settings you can work in as an accounting graduate
Accountants are employed by the government at 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 available 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 BLS, the median annual wage for government accountants is $67,100 as of May 2017.
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 BLS, accountants holding these positions earn a median annual wage of $69,410.
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 as of May 2017 for financial analysts is $84,300.
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 earns a median annual wage of $125,080 as of May 2017.
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.
Cloud computing stands to benefit accountants and accounting firms by providing a cost-effective alternative to implementing an in-house IT infrastructure. Cloud applications are deployed over the internet, enabling accountants to utilize the technology remotely from any location at any time.
According to the 2016 National Management of an Accounting Practice (MAP) survey, 56 percent of CPA firms are employing cloud-based services, which is up 17 percent from 2014. The reason for this increase in adoption by accounting firms lies in all of the benefits and the ease of workflow accountants experience through the application of this technology. Cloud computing vendors are able to implement their services almost instantly, thereby eliminating the need to install software and hire IT teams to manage the infrastructure.
Firms also save money through the use of cloud computing services because users often pay as they go as opposed to paying high, upfront licensing fees, and maintenance and support costs are usually minimal. In addition to cost savings, cloud services are easily upgraded and maintained, giving accountants more time to focus on efficiency and providing quality financial services.
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 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 data sets 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 first-rate 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.
While this new technology is still in its infancy, accountants who stay current with advances in blockchain technology and take the time to learn how they can apply it to financial practices will be a step ahead when industry-wide implementation takes place.
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 should you major in accounting? Since accounting is the basis of business, there are a plethora of job opportunities and much room to grow within the industry. 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’re an aspiring business professional considering an accounting degree, learn more about Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Accounting. Find out how Maryville’s program can help prepare you for a range of career possibilities in business and finance.