So you want to be an accountant. Or, perhaps you were told when coming out of high school that accounting is a good, safe field to get into. Maybe you just thought accounting is the way to go if you want to make good money. Or, as most of us can probably attest to, you simply did not know what to major in when embarking on your college education, and accounting just seemed like an easy choice. As you struggle through the onslaught of coursework that includes Cost Accounting, Financial Accounting, Auditing, and the nightmare known as Federal Taxation, it is very easy to find yourself wondering if it is really worth it. Before you go submitting that petition to change your major to the registrar, here are some things to consider when deciding whether or not it really is worth it.
One of the most attractive benefits of the accounting field is that there a tremendous amount of directions you can go. Whether you want to work for a private company in the accounting department, work for a non-profit institution or the government, or maybe even open your own public accounting firm, accounting is one of the few fields that offers such flexibility, and it is more than just filing tax returns.
For starters, management accounting and public accounting are two very different branches of the same field. Public accounting, as most of us are probably familiar, involves the accounting services aimed to generally serve, as the name implies, the public. Preparing and auditing financial statements of clients, who may include large publicly traded companies, which are in turn used by stockholders and investors, again the public, to make investment decisions is a responsibility of the public accountant. Smaller public accounting firms may focus primarily on small business, such as partnerships or sole proprietorships, whereas the renowned Big 4 public accounting firms generally serve the largest publicly traded corporations. Auditing and tax accounting are merely components of public accounting. Management accounting, on the other hand, is an excellent field for people who enjoy the many challenges of problem solving, as management accountants are actively involved in the decision making processes of a firm due to their knowledge of the company’s internal accounting structure. It is necessary to carefully consider managerial accounting information when making decisions involving budgets and capital investments, hence the importance of the management accountant.
If public accounting sounds like something that may be of interest to you upon completion of your degree, then you almost certainly will have to obtain Certified Public Accountant certification by passing the infamous CPA exam. Certified Management Accountant designation also exists for those interested in management accounting which, similar to CPA certification, requires passing a universal exam. So, not only do you have to complete a relentless series of college coursework in accounting, but you must also study for and pass an exam in order to obtain certification, which still begs the question, is all this really worth it?
Now that two examples of differing accounting career paths have been provided, you should consider what being an accountant is really like. Maybe you would enjoy working in an office, as almost all accountants do, or working a typical forty hour work week, which is generally the norm for most accountants. Working long hours can also potentially come with the territory, particularly during tax season, in addition to frequent travel if you are employed by a large firm with many branches in multiple regions. Some accountants, however, may also work from home, so there is even a bit of flexibility when it comes to the work environment of an accounting professional. Perhaps even more favorable for the accounting student is the fact that the demand for competent accounting professionals across the board is projected to grow within the next decade according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, due, in part, to the implementation of stricter accounting standards brought on by the numerous documented cases of fraudulent conduct and unethical accounting practices of companies such as Enron.
The value and importance of accountants in the dental industry
If you are still wondering if this is all really worth the hard work, perhaps a brief description of the salaries of accounting professionals may interest you. It is estimated that accountants with a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn an average salary of approximately $40,000, starting out, again according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries can be expected to increase significantly with experience and subsequent professional licenses, such as the CPA or CMA, as well as with graduate degrees. Some of the top accounting professionals earn six figure salaries. It can certainly be said that, while not outlandishly high, accounting salaries are pretty good. You can also be a consultant in the accounting advisory services sector as well.
Some important things to consider if you are interested in a possible accounting career have been provided. If you still think that accounting simply is not for you, then that trip to the registrar may just be inevitable.