Whether you’re hoping to open your own accounting firm down the road or you’re interested in pursuing a career as an enrolled agent, a career path in accounting is rife with challenges—but also promises the great reward for the true entrepreneur.
Should I Get a Master’s Degree in Accounting?
The answer to this depends on your career aspirations and your financial limitations. You don’t need a master’s degree in order to get a license. Also, you don’t need such a degree to land a fantastic accounting job in a great firm. However, if you hope to pursue management-level accounting positions or higher, it will not happen. Chances are that you’ll need to participate in some type of graduate program.
These days, it’s more commonplace than those in both private and public sectors who have pursued a Master’s degree in either Professional Accountancy or Accountancy. This has created an expectation amongst employers that candidates must possess such degrees. So, forgoing higher education in this regard could harm your job prospects down the road.
Get Experience as Soon as Possible
You’ll be required to take numerous courses and pass plenty of exams. But there’s more to securing a great job in accounting than education. Experience is just as, if not more important to many employers. Good grades aren’t enough to sway an employer if they’re faced with competitive candidates for an accounting position in their company. You’ll need to demonstrate that you have the experience to handle the role. So, you must provide proof that you have your own skills and firsthand knowledge about the responsibilities accounting requires.
Whether you need to volunteer with a local accounting firm to get experience or take on an unpaid internship to put your hours in, do whatever you can to start collecting hours of experience and usable education you can apply to your career.
You can find current internship opportunities here.
Always Take Advantage of Networking Opportunities
Excelling in the accounting industry is about more than numbers. Meeting and building relationships with colleagues in the same field can help you access better positions. Also, it will keep you abreast of industry happenings, and make you indispensable to an accounting firm. Join local accounting professional groups, contribute to forums, interact regularly on LinkedIn, and consider joining your state’s CPA society to meet like-minded individuals within the industry.
When Should I Take the CPA Exam?
You’ll hear a variety of answers to this question. But in general, the best is this: take the CPA exam as soon as possible. Yes, take such an exam but only when you prepare yourself truly. This rigorous exam seems to get more and more difficult as the years pass. It’s not uncommon for master’s degree holding graduates to fail it multiple times before finally achieving a passing score. Before taking it, enroll in refresher courses. Do this especially if you took a break from schooling between achieving your degree and now.
Use resources like the CPA Exam Guy to better position yourself for success on your exam and give yourself plenty of time to study. Be sure that you’ve fulfilled all requirements; in most states, this means at least 150 hours of further education after receiving your bachelor’s degree, which may achieve through the pursuit of master’s degrees.
Pursue Optional Certifications
There are numerous certifications within the accounting realm that can help you unlock new achievements in terms of employment. While most come into accounting positions with undergraduate degrees, and many have master’s degrees, there are still others who pursue the many certifications put forth by various organizations and educational institutions. Certifications open you up to promotions within your current position. This allows you to access higher levels of employment as you continue in your career.
In today’s saturated job market, anything you can do to get your name out there gives you an advantage over the competition. Take your accounting knowledge and pen articles for publishing across a range of mediums. Send in editorials to your local newspaper or online news publication, start a blog that covers accounting topics, and do anything you can to get your name out there. This will bolster your reputation as an expert in your field, and help you further your career.
Finding a job in the field of accounting will mean facing high rates of competition. Putting extra time and work to do what you can to stay ahead of the pack will pay in dividends in the long run. So, consider these essential career tips and position yourself for success.