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How to Get Started on a Career in Accounting (and How to Know if It’s Right for You)

How to Get Started on a Career in Accounting (and How to Know if It's Right for You) 41

Accountancy is a noble profession, and one which is always in demand, so anyone seeking a secure and stable career path will find it an attractive proposition.

So how can you begin your journey to becoming a professional accountant, and what will influence your suitability for this type of role?

Complete a relevant degree

You won’t make it far in the world of accounting if you don’t have at least a degree-level education under your belt. Completing university studies in an accountancy-related topic will stand you in good stead, and also provide you with opportunities to participate in work experience schemes at the same time.

The majority of interns in accounts departments will be students or recent graduates, and this is a way of getting your foot in the door to further your career progress.

Work out which accounting qualification makes most sense for you

After finishing your degree, you’ll typically start work in a junior role, receiving training and gaining experience on the job. This is necessary because you will eventually have to achieve professional certification to take your career to the next stage.

There are different accounting certifications to aim for, so it’s sensible to weigh up your options and select just one focus on.

For example, becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is one of the most commonly chosen paths. You could also choose to study towards certification as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFA), and many other options besides.

Opting to specialize in a narrower area of accounting might sound like something which will close more doors than it opens, but the reality is that developing specific skills will make you more employable.

Establish whether or not you’re cut out for life as an accountant

There are a few things that will contribute towards a successful career in accounts, such as:

Strong teamwork & collaboration mentality

It’s rare for accountants to work alone; even if you go solo and advise individuals and businesses on their finances, you’ll still need to communicate and collaborate with others from day to day.

As such you have to be a fan of teamwork and also be effective in collaborative environments. There’s not much room for lone wolves in this context.

Persistence & patience

A lot of accounting is about problem solving, and sometimes that involves tackling an issue over a protracted period to try and find a way around it.

People who are prone to giving up when the going gets tough simply won’t stay the course as accountants. You have to have grit and determination, and a nimble mind, to make progress.

Driven by integrity & ethics

While number-crunching might seem like something that has little to do with human emotions or societal standards, the opposite is true.

Accountants must be bastions of professional integrity, and also understand the part they play in keeping businesses ticking over from an ethical perspective.

Eminently well organized

Accountants must operate with precision, or else it’s all too easy for things to spiral out of control. Organizational skills are a must for this reason, and that covers everything from being good with time management to storing data logically.

The bottom line

It would be foolish to think that accounting is right for everyone, but if you’ve got the temperament, the skills and the passion to see it through, then starting your training sooner rather than later will set you on a course to career success.

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