Starting an Accounting Career: Accounting and Finance Jobs

Tips for Getting into an Accounting Program in School and Finding a Job

In spite of being labeled "bean counters," accountants can have exciting, challenging careers in a variety of fields!  Because there are so many areas of accounting in which you can specialize, it can be a bit difficult to know where to start.  A good online degree program will help you decide upon your specialty and will ensure that you are properly trained.  Careful evaluation of your strengths can help you narrow your choices, as can prioritizing what you value in an accounting career.

Here's how to get into accounting and finance jobs:

  1. Evaluation.  Before you decide on a career in accounting, evaluate what's important to you.  Accounting can encompass a wide variety of jobs.  If you desire a career that allows you to travel, you may want to consider becoming an auditor.  Auditors work within a company for as long as two weeks to determine whether the company's accounting is accurate and responsible.  They present their findings to the company's management, and then move on to the next company.  If you do not want to travel, there are many accounting positions which involve very little travel, such as budget analysts and cost accountants.

    Another area to evaluate is how many hours you would like to work per week.  If you don't mind long hours, management accounting may be for you.  Management accountant positions typically involve more responsibility and a more advanced degree than other areas of accounting.  Tax accountants also put in long hours, but usually only during tax season, which is from January through April.

    Before you choose to enter accounting, you'll also need to determine what your strengths and weaknesses are.  Accounting careers require close attention to detail, an aptitude for math, and the Smiling accountant at workability to work both alone and in groups effectively.  In addition, it's important that you can work well with computers and learn new tasks quickly.  Because accounting covers such an array of tasks, you may frequently be called upon to perform new job duties. 

    If you still feel that accounting is the right career choice for you, it's on to the next step!

  2. Education.  Obtaining the proper education is vital in beginning your accounting career.  You will need at least a two-year degree in accounting or finance to even be considered for the most basic entry-level positions.  A four-year degree is more desirable yet, of course.  If your goal is ultimately to become a comptroller or treasurer, which are the managerial positions in an accounting or finance department, you'll want to pursue a master's or doctoral degree. Look for a school that has a promising accounting program. While you are enrolled in college, take advantage of any opportunities for accounting internships that you are offered.  Besides providing you with valuable job experience, they can also help you to decide what type of accounting is most fascinating to you!
  3. Employment.  Accounting degrees only take you so far. Okay, you've decided what field in accounting is right for you, you've been thoroughly trained in the roles and responsibilities of a bean counter - now it's time to find a job!  If you are a recent college graduate, use the employment resources of your college to begin your search.  Most schools will work very hard to help you find a job related to your college major.  Happy graduates are happy alumni (read, donors) and it also reflects well on their graduate employment statistics.  If this avenue proves unproductive in your job search, search the classifieds, check with job-listing websites, and contact large companies or auditing firms to find out if they have any positions available.  The U.S. government also employs a large number of accountants in various fields.  Or, if you prefer, jump right in and open your own accounting business.  You may choose to prepare taxes, offer financial advice, or contract auditing services with outside companies.  The accounting field offers many choices, and continues to grow quickly, especially with the advent of recent Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) legislation. There are plenty of accounting jobs to choose from, so good luck getting started!

Beginning a career in accounting is the start of a great adventure!  With a little preparation and a lot of study at a standard university or through an excellent online college you can ensure that you'll have a successful, fulfilling job that will provide new challenges around every corner!


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