Careers in finance are exciting and rewarding. However, they require a deep understanding of computational math, strategy, and financial organization. If you’re interested in a career in finance, you might consider accounting as your field of choice.
Accounting is a wide discipline that encompasses a variety of job responsibilities. It’s a good place to start if you’re not sure what specific area of finance interests you most. Plus, as a professional accountant, you’re able to move around within and across organizations with relative ease. Whether you’re serious about an accounting career or just entertaining the possibility, here is a basic overview of the field to get you started.
What Do Accountants Do?
Accountants provide an extremely important function for individuals and organizations: financial management. Accountants review financial records, monitor cash flow, keep track of assets and debts, and help executives make informed decisions. They also prepare taxes, create bookkeeping systems, help streamline business operations, find ways to cut budgets, and perform audits.
Accountants use math, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and communication tactics to perform their jobs. They must be exceptional at computing equations and interpreting and reporting the results. These days, accountants have access to a wide range of software programs and web-based applications that help them crunch numbers and analyze financial data. So, modern-day accountants also need moderate tech skills to keep up with market trends and job competition.
What Education Is Required?
To become a professional accountant, you first need to earn your bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s is an undergraduate degree that provides a well-rounded education as well as courses specific to business, finance, and accounting. This degree takes about four years to complete and provides opportunities for networking, skill building, and job placement. Most universities offer in-person programs, but some also host online courses. If you work full time, have kids, or are a non-traditional student, you may want to consider an online degree in accounting.
Once you complete your undergraduate degree, you can go on for a master’s if you desire. Though not required, a master’s degree provides more in-depth knowledge of the field and can set you apart in the job market. Regardless, you can always earn professional certifications such as a CPA to enhance your career. Certifications can help you get promotions and move up to more prestigious positions within an organization.
Where Do Accountants Work?
A degree in accounting opens a wide range of job opportunities. You can work in the private sector for small, medium, or large companies, or you can work for government agencies or nonprofits. Once you get some experience in the field, you can even create a new firm and provide accounting services to individuals and businesses. UAB lists some interesting lines of work such as forensic accounting that you should consider while you’re in school.
Is a Career in Accounting Right for You?
If you want a career in finance, accounting might be the path to take. The job market is vast and organizations always need quality accounting professionals on their teams. Research undergraduate programs and consider taking online courses. In the future, consider earning your CPA or a master’s degree to deepen your knowledge and advance your career potential.