So you want to know how to become an accountant? Becoming an accountant isn’t an easy journey. You need to go through various steps before getting the certification and license to work as an accountant. This is a lucrative and well-paying career that can help you earn a living. In this article, you’ll learn various steps you need to take for a successful career in accounting.
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Most accountants obtain a bachelor’s degree in accounting before pursuing an accounting career. This is considered the minimum requirement if you want to pursue a CPA course. But if you plan to become an auditor, consider taking various auditing classes while still in school.
Some states require those pursuing an accounting career to take advanced coursework aside from the accounting bachelor’s degree. You will need to study for 150 credit hours in various auditing, taxes, and financial reporting sectors.
Go for Accounting Internship
Internship prepares you for your next career step in accounting. You will gain work experience and skills to open up your mind and pursue your career effectively. In fact, before you start working in some accounting firms, you will require experience in accounting before you get the job. You may need over one year of experience to land a competitive job.
Choose a Specialty
Decide the career path you need to follow. This will help you focus on your area of specialization once you obtain your degree. For instance, if you want to become a tax advisor or a bookkeeper, you will need to become a certified public accountant.
Your role will be helping organizations with financial and tax planning. There are many specialties you can pursue based on your interest and motivation.
Sit for a Certification Exam
After choosing your specialization area, you can now take the certification exam from a professional national authority. First, get in touch with the Institute of Certified Public Accountants to sit for the CPA exam.
When done, you will need to sit for the Certified Internal Auditor exam from the Institute of Internal Auditors. You will then contact the Institute of Management Accountant to get certified for Management Accounting. You can still pursue additional certifications from professional bodies, but this may not be necessary.
Apply for an Entry Level Job
Before you graduate, you’ll need to start working with an accounting or auditing firm on an entry-level to help you gain experience and build your resume. It will also help you acquire a professional license and certification, showing that you are a qualified accountant.
You can use various social media platforms to look for accounting firms that need entry-level accountants. You can also network as you ask for referrals to accounting firms or visit job sites and look for open positions relevant to your specialization area.
Working in an entry-level position in the accounting firm can take you at least one-year working full time. When done, you will need to show proof of your work experience, and this will be evident through an accounting or auditing license.
Gain More Years of Experience
Gaining higher experience in your area of specialization will expose you to bigger and well-paying accounting opportunities. It never pains to work for more years as you learn new skills and expertise in your accounting career.
You can work as a junior associate as you look for your clients. Landing a client may not be an easy task. But with focus and determination, it can take you about 3 to 5 years to find multiple clients.
Pursue Further Studies
As you gain more experience, consider continuing your education. Enroll for a master’s degree to further your studies and create a platform for better future opportunities.
While you may relax after landing your first job, it isn’t advisable to rely on your bachelor’s degree alone if you want better future opportunities.
Consider earning a master’s degree in accounting to boost your career path. It may seem tiring, but you can be sure to enjoy its benefits such as better opportunities and a higher salary in the long run.
Earn More Credits
Acquiring an accounting license and certification is not the end of the journey. You will need to continue earning more credits to maintain your license and certification. This will help you remain relevant in the industry and earn higher opportunities. Most people often lose accounting relevance when they fail to earn more credits to keep their license and certification relevant.
Consider Setting up Your Practice Firm
Once you gain experience and skills in accounting, consider starting your own practice. You can become a consultant or decide to start your own firm. This depends on your preferences and financial capabilities.
Offering consultancy services gives you a flexible schedule, and you can find other things to do that are relevant to your area of specialization during your extra free time.
The Bottom Line
Whether you want to switch careers or you plan to pursue accounting because of your passion, you should consider going through each step mentioned above to help you build a seamless accounting career experience. Also, consider pursuing your career in a certified accounting institution. This will earn you recognizable degrees, licenses, and certifications.
By Abby Drexler, BOSS contributor