Which Accounting Careers will suit you?

Throw away your preconceptions about accounting careers. The role of an accountant has never been more important.

Accounting Careers

And being an accountant is not boring. Far from it. There’s a whole range of careers in accounting. And the accounting job opportunities out there offer you an unprecedented diversity of roles and responsibilities.

If you’re interested in an accounting career our aim is to answer the many questions that you’ll have to help decide if it’s the right job for you. 

Let’s have a brief look at some of your questions:

  • What is accountancy?

Traditionally you could get away with saying:

“It’s the art of working out a company’s financial position. That is, did it make or lose money – the Profit or Loss? And is it still financially viable – the Balance Sheet?”

These days, such a description does no justice to how the accounting world operates. But it’s a start. 

  • Will my personality fit?

Are accounting careers right for you? There’s no doubt that you do need to be interested in numbers, have a strong customer service ethic, embrace technology and love jigsaws. And even though you might not be on the "sales" side of the business the fact is that you have to sell your services to your own clients - whether your clients are internal or external - more on that later…

  • Where do accountants work? What types of accounting careers can I pursue?

Don’t confine yourself to thinking that an accounting career is limited to preparing financial statements and annual tax returns. Qualified accountants are no longer seen as the bean counters lurking behind calculators or as the dreaded auditor out to entrap you.

Accountants take up roles in three main areas and regularly transfer back and forth between them:

  • Public Accounting - commonly referred to as the “profession” or “private practice”. But those descriptions are not much help if you’ve never heard of them. The “profession” refers to dedicated accountancy firms such as Ernst & Young & PriceWaterhouseCoopers (better known as PwC). But it can be any size of accounting practice from a one partner way-out-west setup to global behemoths such as Ernst & Young.

  • Corporate Accounting - sometimes known as “industry”. Basically, if you’re not working in the profession..well..you’re working in “industry”. And industry can mean a large multinational organization such as Microsoft, a national car sales group or a local pizza chain.

  • Government Accounting - doesn’t have a special name such as the “profession” or “industry”. But it’s virtually the same as corporate accounting. The only difference is that the entity you’re working for is government owned. 

  • Do I have the right educational background to get an accounting job?

There’s an abundance of work for accountants - such as payroll officers and accounts payable clerks - without a need for graduate qualifications. However, if you want to undertake one of the key accounting certifications then a graduate qualification from a top college/university becomes a necessity.

  • What are accounting certifications (qualifications)? Do I need one?

There are a lot of accounting certifications which we’ll cover but the ones recognised as being at the top of the pile are Certified Public Accountants (CPA), Chartered Accountants (CA), Chartered Management Accountants (CMA/CIMA). And it all differs depending on the country you live in. Nice & easy…

As to whether you need such qualifications – the answer is a simple yes. You’ll progress a lot further in your career and you’ll earn a lot more. That helps with motivation doesn’t it?

  • An accountants salary – what can I expect when I start?

Actually this is usually the first question that gets asked. And like the certifications accounting salaries vary substantially between countries and whether you’re in the profession or industry. We’ll cover this in a lot more detail and point you in the right direction of the industry salary surveys.

  • Let's move on...

Ok, so we’ve given you a basic primer on some aspects of the types of accounting careers that you can pursue. But now it’s time to delve in and find out a lot more detail