If you are intrigued by the idea of becoming an accountant, you may already know the basics of what an accounting career looks like. Without a doubt, you would likely earn respect , job stability, and no doubt a high salary. However, accounting is not a career for everyone.
Just like any career, there are advantages and drawbacks that must be considered before leaping into the field. After all, everybody has strengths, but not everyone is best suited or satisfied with a particular career choice. Thus, if you are on the fence, here are the pros and cons of a career in accounting.
- A Clear Path. Unlike some other fields, such as journalism, political science, or the arts, accounting has a clear and direct career path. The path is straightforward: attend an accredited university, earn a bachelor’s in accounting, take on as many internships as possible and graduate fully qualified to get hired in an accounting position. What you will learn in college is in many ways a technical skill. While critical thinking and strategy is key, you spend much of your time learning technical accounting techniques instead of participating in roundtable Socratic discussion such as in the liberal arts. These skills can be applied directly to your job.
- High Demand. Accountants continue to show a steady job market despite any economic downturn. Accountants work with individuals and businesses to make sure they are financially on track and up to date on their financial records. Certified public accountants even have the ability to manage budgets and implement financial strategy on behalf of a company or organization. You are essentially a link to your client and the financial world, so your job will always be in demand.
- Diversity. Despite what some may think, accounting offers many opportunities for advancement and diversity. Depending on which sector you work in and which job you attain, you can work as much or as little as you’d like. For example, if you desire a 9-5 workspace in an office, you can work for a company in their office. However, if you work independently with multiple clients, you can work from virtually anywhere. Diversity also means you have opportunity to advance and to make a much higher salary.
- Monotony. One of the biggest turn-offs to would-be accountants is the idea that accounting is boring. If you are one of those people, and the benefits don’t outweigh the costs, than this may not be the job for you. If you are not satisfied in a field that is highly regulated, and involves pulling together financial data constantly, then you might want to look elsewhere. If you are still interested in finance but want to pursue a different career, consider becoming a financial analyst or an economist.
- Certification. It is true—many accountants remain un-certified and are perfectly happy doing basic accounting work. In fact, you don’t even need to become a CPA to become a CFO. However, CPAs have a huge advantage over non-CPAs. You are allowed more freedom in financial and tax matters within a business or organization, which is a plus if you want more diversity in your job. The one caveat is that the CPA is notoriously difficult. The exam has four parts that are set separately within a strict timeline and roughly half of all candidates fail. This includes first-timers and veteran test-takers. But look on the bright side—that means half do pass and become CPAs. It’s recommended that candidates prioritize their schedules to study for hundreds of hours around the exams. Plenty of candidates similar to you have passed before, so there is no reason why you can’t pass if you dedicate yourself. Many spend hours focusing on testing materials, mock exams and use a CPA exam course in order to speak with a live teacher and study among peers.
- Highly Stressful. Many experience accounting as a highly stressful endeavor. Dealing with a person’s finances is serious business, and when tax season rolls around, the pressure is on. In addition, the more authority you have, the more responsibility is on your shoulders. You will have to manage others to be sure that payroll is handled properly (imagine doing this in a large company), and that any frauds or tax mistakes are avoided. If working in a high-pressure environment suits you and your goals, then this is a good job for you.