If you’re looking for a stable career that offers plenty of opportunities and the promise of a healthy income for decades to come, look no further than accounting. But to make the most out of this career path, you’ll need to plan ahead.
The Benefits of a Career in Accounting
Accounting isn’t the sexiest career path. You won’t find accountants featured on reality TV shows or viral social media posts. However, when it comes to lucrative careers with long-term potential, few jobs compare. Benefits of a career in accounting include:
- Growing demand. Between now and 2026, demand for accountants is expected to rise by 10 percent – a much faster rate than the national average across all jobs and industries.
- Competitive pay. The median annual wage for accountants is $73,560. Those in the top 10 percent earn an average pay of $128,680. That makes accounting a lucrative career with plenty of upward mobility.
- Practical skillset. As an accountant, you learn practical skills that can help you in numerous areas of your life, including your own personal finances. This opens the door for lots of new opportunities.
If you’re looking for a job that has high demand, competitive pay, and allows you to acquire practical skills that benefit you personally and professionally, accounting is a career worth pursuing. But where do you start?
Getting Your Start as an Accountant
Like any other industry, getting started in your career requires discipline and a willingness to make certain sacrifices. Having said that, here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Find the Right Degree Program
It all starts with finding the right degree program. While lots of schools offer accounting tracks, not all programs are created equal. Look for an opportunity at a school that’s known for (a) having great academics and (b) having excellent connections and industry relationships. Never underestimate the importance of networking and the role your college or university plays in this.
- Use Scholarships to Pay for School
The last thing you want to do is leave school with $30,000 in student loan debt (which is roughly the average for today’s college graduates). Anything you can do to help offset this cost is helpful – and scholarships are one of the best tools in your bag of tricks.
In addition to state and university scholarships, consider other private sources of student scholarships that exist within the industry. Wiley’s Accounting and Finance Student Scholarship, for example, is given to a student every month.
- Cultivate Specific Skills
Passing your accounting classes is obviously very important. But there’s more to becoming an accountant than just learning how to work accounting software or balance books. To be competitive in this industry, you should cultivate skills like innovation, communication, initiative, resilience, leadership, and even empathy. Not only will these skills make you a better accountant, but they’ll also make you a more compelling candidate when applying and interviewing for competitive job openings upon graduation.
- Secure Internships
While in school, internships are probably the most useful experiences you’ll have. They give you a taste of what it’s like to work in the industry. These experiences will shape your skills, while also giving you a better idea of what type of accounting you want to pursue after graduation.
- Choose a Track
Based on your time in school and the internship opportunities, you’ll reach a point during the final year of your degree program where it becomes necessary to select a track or specialty. This can include any number of options, but the two most basic areas of specialization are public accounting and corporate/business accounting.
- Interview With the Right Companies
The final step is to apply for jobs, interview with companies, and wait for the right opportunity to come along. Many schools have something like a “Meet the Accountants” event that acts as a job fair for students who are preparing to graduate. If your school has one of these, be sure to attend.
Pave the Way for a Successful Career
Simply becoming an accountant does not guarantee you’ll be successful. However, if you make smart and intentional decisions at the start of your journey, you’ll be much more likely to enjoy the lucrative byproducts of a successful career. Take your time and figure out the best way forward!