Accounting is a very rewarding career. Accountants are needed in virtually every industry and in virtually every company or organization, and many accountants choose to begin their own private practices. As with any profession, accounting requires formal education and ongoing study, but accounting provides tremendous opportunities for flexibility, offering several different career tracks.
Choose your career track
There are a variety of specializations and many sub-categories and niches in accounting. Research some of them and focus on what interests you. You may choose to become an accountant without further licensing, or you can choose to become a CPA. Accountants often work in accounting offices where they perform a variety of functions in order to prepare financial statements. However, CPAs can perform many more functions, such as review and analyze financial statements and conduct audits.
As an accountant or a CPA, you could work for government agencies themselves or be hired by companies to interact with the government on their behalf. CPAs as well as accountants who receive a certification from the IRS can also prepare tax returns for individuals and companies.
Management accountants work for companies, analyzing data, compiling reports, and producing financial projections for corporate leaders in order to facilitate formation of strategy and corporate goals. Management accountants and CPAs have tremendous opportunity for upward mobility in the corporate structure.
Auditing is another track open to CPAs. You may be hired as an employee or act as a consultant, reviewing and analyzing company reports, finding problems or suggesting process improvements to increase organizational efficiency.
Continue your education
Besides obtaining your Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, it is important that you constantly remain educated in your field. Earning your CPA license adds a level of prestige and respect and provides you with an opportunity for career growth that other accountants do not have.
Pennsylvania requires CPAs to complete 80 hours of continuing professional education (CPEs) over the course of two years, with a minimum of 20 hours in any one year. PSTAP offers convenient locations across the Commonwealth for CPAs and other interested accountants to sharpen their skills and fulfill CPE requirements.
Keep yourself constantly abreast of new technology in your area of specialty and become fluent in their use. Consider the impact new technologies have on efficiency as well as issues of security and demonstrate your value to your employers or clients by making them aware of opportunities and possible security issues.
Build a network
Even while you are in school, you should be developing a network of valuable business connections. It is through these connections that you will gain valuable advice from experienced accountants, find mentors, and secure your next job. LinkedIn is an excellent platform for networking, as well as professional organizations such as PSTAP, but remember that a relationship goes two ways. Provide value for your network by passing on important information you may find or by offering to help if you see an opportunity. Individuals in your network will be more willing to help you if they see a genuine interest in the industry and a desire to give back.
Accounting has tremendous job security and growth potential. At PSTAP, we’re dedicated to helping you build and grow your accounting career.