In the post-recession era, more and more students are showing a keen interest in careers that provide them some semblance of stability against economic uncertainty. Accounting has, therefore, emerged as one of the more popular career choices for students looking for recession-proof jobs.
Accounting may not have the x-factor attached to it that probably careers in business management or law do, but it is one of the most challenging careers of our time and also one that holds the maximum promise in terms of growth and employment opportunity given the state of our economy.
With companies tightening their budget strings and the government enacting changes in financial laws and regulations, accountants have become the Pillars that support the financial well-being of companies and ensure they comply with all the rules.
But before you hop on to the accounting bandwagon, remember that like any other career, accounting has certain prerequisites that you must meet if you are to succeed in this field. The most important quality of an accountant is a love for numbers because that's what you'll be playing with through your entire career.
Analytical ability, problem-solving skills, communication skills, and strategic thinking are some other skills that any prospective accountant must have. Also, the first impact of any financial scandal is most often felt by accounting and audit firms – so it's good to have your ethics in place and always stay on the right side of law.
If you meet the above criteria, then the minimum qualification to become an accountant is a bachelor's degree in accounting. A degree in accounting is designed to train graduates in business and financial concepts and how they are applied to professional accounting.
Accountants these days are not just restricted to making financial statements, but are also involved in critical business issues and decision-making. That's why a business accounting degree is designed to train them in all aspects of modern day accounting that include management principles and computer fundamentals.
A degree in accounting, therefore, covers diverse topics such as accounting fundamentals, billing accounting, principles of auditing, management, finance, business law, computer fundamentals, database management, etc.
Many graduates obtain certificates like Certified Public Accountant or CPA after completing their bachelor's degree in accounting to move ahead in their careers. Graduates can choose from four major fields:
• Public accounting: Public accountants work for big accounting firms and provide a broad range of accounting services to their clients that may include the government, private companies, nonprofit organizations, or individuals. They perform activities like auditing, tax planning, and financial consulting.
• Management accounting: Management accountants work for private companies. Their core liabilities include budgeting, performance evaluation, cost management, and asset management among other things.
• Government accounting: Accountants who work in the public sector are called government accountsants. They are employed by federal, state, or local governments and their job including maintaining and examining records of government agencies and auditing individuals and companies subject to government regulations and taxation.
• Internal auditing: Internal auditors are responsible for maintaining the financial records of the company that work for. They verify how effective an organization's internal controls are and also check for mismanagement, waste, or fraud in a company.
Accountants have long shed the image of boring bookkeepers in tardy suits carrying heavy briefcases to work with their noses buried deep under a pile of large files. The new-age accountant is a tech savvy, astute business brain on those shoulders rest the financial health of an organization. It's a career full of opportunities waiting to be explored!