If you’re interested in pursuing an accounting career, you’re certainly not alone. The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics shows that certified public accountants (CPAs) are among the top hired professionals in the country. This could mean job security for you for a lifetime if you follow through with this career.
Following are three tips for the aspiring accountant that you shouldn’t ignore when making this important career decision for your future:
1. Try out as many sectors of accounting as possible throughout your college career.
There are many different sectors in accounting and the only way to decide which one suits you is to try out a couple and see what you think, either by doing multiple internships or temping for various agencies. Some different sectors of accounting are:
Private – private accounting is also sometimes referred to as corporate accounting. It is a branch in which a person works for one company.
Forensic – these accountants usually work in the legal field or for the government, investigating criminal accounting activity.
Public – these are accountants who work for the public, usually either owning their own firms or working in a larger firm. They will perform bookkeeping tasks and tax work year-round and are usually managed by certified public accountants or CPAs.
Tax – this is an accounting career that is another form of public accounting, but can also be performed in franchised tax businesses.
Auditing – auditing can be performed out of CPA firms in the private accounting sector, but there are also auditing positions in some government offices, such as the Texas Department of Banking, as well as internal auditing jobs within financial institutions.
Consulting – accounting or tax consultants are typically hired in large corporations. They are usually highly specialized and highly skilled in specific areas.
2. Don’t take the CPA exam before you’re ready.
Each state has its own rules about who can take the exam, such as the number of college hours they must receive, but aside from that, make sure you are well-educated and highly experienced before you take it. It’s a costly exam and more difficult than ever, and you’re limited to only a few times before you’ll have to wait it out or start your requirements over.
3. Network, network, network.
Accounting can be a competitive field, so it’s important you get to know your local professionals before you graduate. You can do this by volunteering for civic organizations, temping for accounting firms,or attending local chamber of commerce meetings. You can also get to know the bankers where you have your personal bank account. In other words, get to know the people in your field.
Becoming an accountant, and specifically a CPA is not easy, but it can be highly rewarding. It’s important for you to decide for yourself if it’s something you are interested in and skilled for. Accountants possess certain strengths that make them a good fit for the profession, so get to know them now, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. And do your research. Accounting is a whole lot more involved than balancing a checking account.
William Doonan is a tax law and legal expert in Bronx, NY.