When considering a career in accounting, it's important to have the right education, experience, and skills before jumping into the applicant pool. Understanding the requirements for the field and what to expect in such a position are key to landing your dream job in accounting. While there are plenty of opportunities to build a fantastic accounting career, applicants must be adequately prepared in order to secure a position.
Most accounting jobs require a bachelor's degree with a focus on accounting. Those hoping to work for public accounting firms must receive a passing score on the Certified Public Accountant, or CPA, exam. Since most states require 150 college credits to sit for the exam, it makes sense to finish your bachelor's degree before taking the test. Many aspiring accountants continue on with their schooling, tackling graduate level coursework before pursuing their MBA.
The CPA exam consists of four subtests: Auditing and Attestation, Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, and Regulation. While you may sit for each test separately, all four must be completed within 18 months. A minimum score of 75 must be achieved on each subtest to pass. Practice tests can help aspiring CPAs prepare for their exams.
There are far more accounting certifications than just the CPA. Chartered Financial Analyst certification, or CFA, is an option for those hoping to work in the international accounting industry. Certified Management Accountants, or CMAs, specialize in company accounting management. Certified Internal Auditors, or CIAs, are accounting professionals who perform audits for large companies. No matter your field of interest, there is a certification exam to pass before you begin working in the industry.
In addition to the education and certifications necessary to become an accountant, you'll also need certain skills. Accountants must be very good with math, diligent with their work and be extremely detail-oriented. Because the industry is guided by complicated regulations that change frequently, professionals must be able to stay up-to-date on the latest developments and reflect those changes in their practice.
Accountants often work alone. Even those who serve as part of a larger team will spend much of their time completing assignments independently. With that said, accountants must be willing to communicate with clients to perform their duties effectively. Successfully managing such conversations is critical for success in the field.
Ultimately, accounts must be incredibly analytic in their daily duties. Doing so is a must when solving financial problems and recommending alternative methods. Ethics are also important, as accountants are often the most scrutinized members of a team.
Generally speaking, employers look for good grades and experience when hiring accountants. Those with a history of leadership positions in campus organizations stand out among the pack. Certifications are also required for most accounting positions. Failure to meet basic qualifications for the job will render a candidate unsuccessful.
In addition to good grades and certifications, aspiring accountants should consider the importance of volunteer work on their resume. Interning at a CPA tax firm during tax season is one way to gain such experience. Non-profits often seek the assistance of volunteer accountants to handle their finances. These sorts of life experiences can help you develop the soft skills necessary to impress employers. Giving back to the community is a good way to help your neighbor while furthering your career.
As with any job hunt, the search can feel overwhelming at the beginning. Online job postings, classified ads and company websites are a great place to start. Of course, networking with classmates, professors and other professionals can get even the most novice of accountants a foot in the door. The more people who know you are interested in getting a job in accounting, the more likely your networking skills land you an interview.
CPAs can pursue opportunities with accounting firms, but entry-level accounting positions can be found in almost any industry. From the smallest of mom-and-pop businesses to Fortune-500 companies, private sector accounting is a good option for those new to the field. Corporate accountants often wear many hats, overseeing acquisitions, evaluating systems upgrades and enhancing profitability. By staying open to the many possibilities, you up the odds of finding an accounting job that's right for you.
If you're hoping to secure a job in accounting, Exam Edge can ensure you pass your certification exams with flying colors. We offer four American Institute of Certified Public Accountant ( AICPA) subjects with 20 different practice exams. Comprised of 2,000 unique questions, these practice tests are the study aid you need to secure a good score. We even offer a free initial practice test for new users. With your future as an accountant hanging in the balance, there's a lot to be gained through Exam Edge resources.