Accounting, like a lot of career options, has its advantages and drawbacks. This is definitely one case where calling the job “good” or “bad” has less to do with innate qualities of the work itself and more to do with whether or not the work suits the person doing it.
Choosing accounting as a career is like picking the dependable and safe option when you shop for a new car. If these are the exact qualities you were looking for, you might find accounting to be highly rewarding. If you were looking for something flashy and high-performance, though, you might find it disappointing.
A career in accounting calls for a certain working style, priorities, and personality. You shouldn’t make any binding decisions about the suitability of accounting for you until you’ve learned a little more about the potential pros and cons of pursuing this line of work.
Will you wind up behind the wheel of a career in accounting? Read on to learn more and decide whether or not you want to steer toward bookkeeping.
Advantages Of A Career In Accounting
1) A Clear Career Path
Studying accounting means devoting yourself to cultivating practical skills. You’ll learn to crunch numbers and analyze figures – broadly applicable skills that many different employers need. The line connecting your studies to your future job is extremely clear and easy to follow, unlike other fields of study like English or philosophy.
If you decide to make a career out of accounting, you’ll enjoy a noteworthy degree of certainty about where your career is going to go. There are many specialties and sub-types of accountants, but they all draw from the same pool of fundamental skills. Studying accounting means you know where you’re headed, and that can be a powerful reassurance.
2) Accounting Offers Stability And Growth
Accounting isn’t a profession that’s in any danger of becoming obsolete. It’s not work that can be easily outsourced, either. Job prospects for accountants are looking strong in the years ahead, and this demand has proven remarkably constant. As long as people do business, track money, and pay taxes, they’ll need accountants to help them with the record-keeping required.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the accounting industry as a whole is set to grow by 11 percent in the decade between 2014 and 2024. At the same time, general job growth across the nation is only expected to rise by seven percent, putting accountants well ahead of the curve. There’s a demographic shift going on (the retirement of Baby Boomers) that serves at least in part to explain this opportunity-rich job field.
3) Ample Opportunities For Professional Advancement
While you’ll start off your career in an entry-level position after completing your studies, you’ll see tremendous potential for growth. Entry-level positions in accounting include staff accountant, controller’s office assistant, or junior auditor. The first two positions are private, while the third can be public. All of them are stepping stones to more advanced positions.
You’ll be able to push your career forward by gaining experience. Advancement can come through on-the-job performance or by earning additional certifications and degrees, such as MBAs and CPA certifications.
4) Considerable Earning Potential
A salary generous enough to meet all your expenses with a healthy margin left for making yourself comfortable is a powerful advantage in any career’s favor, isn’t it? Most accounting careers can offer exactly that to dedicated workers.
BLS statistics show that the median annual salary for accountants in 2016 was $68,150. The top 10 percent of earners in the field receive salaries over $120,000. These figures are impressive when compared to the current median salary of $437,040 across all regions and industries. Full-time accountant work also usually delivers excellent benefits: full healthcare coverage, vacation time, retirement plans, and more.
5) Geographic Freedom
What sort of scenery to you have in mind for your ideal life? Would you like to live in a big city or a small town? Do you want to live on the coasts or in the heartland? Do you want mountains and forests close by, or would you prefer to be near the ocean?
Some professions oblige you to move yourself to a narrow choice of industrial hubs if you want to find good-paying work. Accounting is a much more universal profession. The demand for accountants is everywhere; every business in every field relies on support from accounting professionals. When you equip yourself with accounting skills, you can make a good career virtually anywhere you want to.
6) Entrepreneurship Is An Option
Accountants who dream of being their own bosses can easily take steps to make those dreams reality. Starting a firm of your own is always an option if you’re an independent-minded accountant.
This is not a boast every profession can make! Very few pilots get to run their own business, for example. In accounting, setting up your own firm is relatively easy. Hanging out your own shingle involves starting a business and therefore accepting some risks, so it’s not ideal for every accountant. Having the option so freely available is a good thing, though!
Potential Drawbacks Of An Accounting Career
1) The Learning Never Ends
An accounting degree is just the start of your professional education. Moving forward in your career means committing yourself to continuing your education long after earning your first degree. The good news is that the time you continue to invest in learning typically pays dividends in the form of better positions and higher pay and nowadays it can be done from home via an online bookkeeping course.
As you rack up experience in the early stages of your career, you’ll want to look at earning an advanced certification. Credentials available include CPA (Certified Professional Accountant), CMA (Certified Management Accountant), and CFA (Chartered Financial Accountant). All of these credentials take a significant amount of time and work to earn, so they’re not picked up lightly.
2) The Field Can Be Considered Humble And/Or Dull
Quick, name an internationally-renowned superstar accountant. Struggling to come up with a single name? That’s no surprise. Accounting isn’t really a glamorous job. The day-to-day grind in accounting involves study, research, and math, and some people consider that terribly boring.
The good news here is that “boring” is an entirely relative term. For some people – the right people – the intricacies of accounting work and the attention to detail it requires can be fascinating. This is one case where a clear understanding of what the job entails is absolutely vital before you decided whether or not it’s right for you.
3) Every Year Includes A Rush Season
Accounting is usually a 9-to-5 job. There are a few times of the year where looming deadlines pile on the hours, though. Tax accountants, of course, have to deal with the pressure of the April 15 deadline every year. This typically requires an increased workload all the way from the start of the year through to the deadline.
In busy seasons, accountants will be putting in extra hours and weekend work as a matter of course in order to meet their clients’ needs. At least things slow down significantly when deadline pressure isn’t an issue!
4) Stress Can Be An Issue
Taking responsibility for an organization’s finances is a potentially-stressful move. This is more or less inevitable. According to Economia’s data, 32 percent of accountants find their day-to-day work stressful.
You need to have a healthy, productive attitude to stress in order to excel in accounting. If you already know that workplace stress rubs you raw, accounting may not be your ideal profession
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