24 answers

What steps would you recommend I take to prepare to enter the field of accounting?

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24 answers

Ford’s Answer

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Hi Adalberto,

As most responders have mentioned already, I think the best course of action is to try and take some sort of entry level accounting class depending on whether or not you are in high school or college. From there, you can get a decent grasp of the field and some of the basic fundamentals of the profession. In my experience, I would like to mention that accounting is not the same in the real world as what it feels like in accounting classes. In the real world, there is client interaction, project management, and much more than just crunching numbers. So with that being said, do no feel intimidated or put off from accounting if it seems too technical for you. Lastly, if you feel like accounting is a fit for you, I suggest obtaining the 150 credit requirement to sit for the CPA exam.

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Iman’s Answer

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If you will be entering the accounting field in the near future, I would update your Linkedin profile as you begin to start job hunting so that employers can see your resume right in front of them! I would also look into pursuing your CPA license and see what resources some of the companies you are applying for would provide for you (i.e., study supplies, exam reimbursement, time off for exams, etc).
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Vipa’s Answer

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I would suggest finish your 150 units and CPA exams before starting the job in accounting field! To be honest, it was a bit tough to balance work, life and CPA exams especially when work get busy. I was lucky when I first started I was not as busy as other, so I had a lot of time to study for my exams through out my first year at PwC and I was able to completed all of my exams within my first year at the firm. A lot of my peers on the other hand are not as fortunate and after three years in, they are still working on their exams. Some of their passed exam sections had expired and then they have to retake. Therefore, I think if you finish your exams and 150 units you will be able to lift a lot of weight off of your shoulder.

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Joseph’s Answer

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Hey Adalberto,

Depends on what stage of your student career you are currently at. I think if you are in college or thinking about college that you should try to get a degree or minor in finance/accounting. The classes that will typically be in those accounting curriculum programs will set you up for a career in accounting. From there I think you can either choose to go to public ( public accounting) or private (working in industry in an accounting department). Those are typically your two routes. Also another thing to get good at is Excel. Excel is very important for accountants and you will probably have to use the program a lot.

Joseph recommends the following next steps:

  • Plan to take Accounting/Finance classes in school
  • Try to figure out if you would prefer to go into public accounting (audit, tax) or private (working for a company in industry)
  • Work on your Excel skills and become an Microsoft Excel wizard.
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Kaitlin’s Answer

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Great question! To prepare for a career in accounting, I would recommend the following:

1. Decide what type of accounting you want to pursue. For example public accounting (CPA track) or industry accounting (non-CPA track; working in an accounting department for a company). Both are solid options, but the path will be a bit different. I'm going to focus on the CPA track. CPA = Certified Public Accountant
2. Research colleges/universities that have strong Accounting programs in the business school. Ask which firms/companies recruit their students. Find out more about the curriculum and how to obtain 150 credit hours to be eligible to sit for the CPA exam.
3. Develop a 150 credit plan to be CPA eligible. Some colleges offer a clear path to CPA eligibility and others require you as the student to be more hands on with determining how to get 150 credits. For example MAcc (Masters of Accounting) program (1 extra year of school) versus a double major/extra courses in the summer to reach 150 in 4 years (AP credits count towards 150 too!).
4. Meet the Public Accounting firms on campus. Participate in the recruitment activities that are being offered at your school. Get to know the recruiters from each firm that come to your school. Apply to internship or full time opportunities with multiple firms.
5. Seek advice from faculty and upperclassmen. Get to know your professors. Ask about their career path and for their advice/counsel on how to land a job at a public accounting firm. Upperclassmen were also recently in your shoes. Ask for their advice. Use them as a mentor to help you find an internship, etc.
6. Apply to take the CPA exam. Once your eligible Accounting coursework is complete, you can sit for the CPA exam. The CPA exam requires a lot of diligent study time. The rewards of being a CPA are endless. You will have lasting credibility and be a sought after resource for both public accounting firms, industry companies and even the government!

Best of luck!
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Alyssa’s Answer

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Hi Adalberto,

There are many different factors to consider when preparing to enter the field of accounting, however I believe one of the more important factors is ensuring that you are taking the correct classes to help you obtain the 150 credit requirement. In order to become a CPA you need to have completed 150 credits, therefore you will either need to attend additional classes after graduation, or you can take additional classes during your undergrad career. Either way, I believe it is important to have a plan in place so that you are prepared and can do it in the most efficient way possible. It is also common for CPAs to get their Masters to help fulfill this requirement, however it is not necessary.

Good job Alyssa! Michael Stempel Translate
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Joshua’s Answer

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Hi,

This answer would depend on what level of entering the field of accounting you are in. I am going to assume that you are about to enter your career whether that be starting at a big 4 accounting firm or a smaller accounting firm. My biggest advice, if this was something you were interested in doing, would be to make sure you pass the CPA test prior to starting at your firm. It is very hard to complete the tests while working and although you might think that you could do it as you study for exams in college after going to school all day, working 9-6 is exhausting when first starting out and will make studying very hard. As for other advice, you really learn accounting on the job and my advice would just be open to advice, listen to anyone coaching you and ask questions. Really try to grasp the accounting concepts and not just work to get the job done. Seek out advice from people who have been working at your firm for a while and write down all advice.
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Julie’s Answer

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The answer to this depends on what stage you are at in college or high school. If accounting is something you are interested in, I would recommend taking a class as early as you can. I took my first accounting course in high school and it sparked my interest for the subject. If you are already in college I would recommend taking an intro to accounting course if you are in the business school and if you are not able to do so, try to audit a class by just showing up to a lecture and listening to see if this is something you are truly interested in. If you are, I would recommend looking into majoring in accounting and trying to decide what path you want to take with it whether or not you would like to pursue public accounting and be a CPA. Good luck in your process!

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Fiona’s Answer

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If you are taking a serious interest in accounting, it's always helpful to learn some of the basics either through school or through work experience. Some of the fundamentals are getting an understanding of what a general ledger looks like, how do debits and credits work, and what role a bookkeeper plays in company.

In today's field of accounting, it's much more than just crunching numbers. Many companies rely on technology to improve their day to day functions, so it may not seem intuitive, but I'd actually recommend a programming class to prepare yourself for the digital world we are all bound to embrace. I certainly wish I did it when I was in school. Programming skills really do apply to so many industries and it'll come in handy in the most surprising way.

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Shante’s Answer

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Hi Adalberto M.,

One of the first things you should do is look into the industry you want to get your start in, and do research on it first to confirm if thats where you want to start. You could intern with companies in different industries and different levels of accounting. As some have stated previously, to speak to a professional and ask how did their career start. There will never be the perfect answer, but your curiosity may peak based on what you learn to make you want to explore that option.

Goodluck!

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James’s Answer

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I would recommend taking a class in project management.

Being able to manage yourself and a team effectively is crucial to success in the public accounting field.

You will quickly find yourself mentoring new hires and then managing a team. In order to grow and advance you will need to either work endless hours, or effectively and efficiently work through your projects.

The latter is certainly more desirable and would recommend taking a class.
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Salvador’s Answer

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Hi Adalberto,

Everyone here has given you some great advice but I would add that if you do decide to pursue a career in accounting be open to the idea of change. Accounting is a career that requires continuous learning mainly due to the fact that rules and regulations change with time. In college you will learn the current accounting standards but it is possible that by the time you graduate there will be a new accounting standard that replaces the one you learned. Hope this gives some clarity in what to expect in the field of accounting, good luck!

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Pam’s Answer

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My advice would be to gather information to see if some aspect of the field appeals to you as a career as there are several work paths an accountant's career may take.  A good starting point for anyone would be to contact the Human Resources department of an accounting firm to see if you can meet in person with someone to discuss what the firm does.  That discussion could lead to many things including an opportunity to shadow an accountant at work.

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Denise’s Answer

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Hi Adalberto! That is a good question. I think the first step is to see if you like it and try to get a better understanding of what this careerwould entail, whether it is doing some simple research on websites like glassdoor or asking friends/family. Talk to your career/academic coach as well at school as well. When/if you do decide to go this path, then I would suggest that you look into taking the CPA by meeting the 150 hr requirement. However, that is definitely not the only path to go for accounting. You could also look into advisory, finance, management and other roles too! Accounting really gives you a good foundation to begin with regardless so best of luck to you!
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Emilio’s Answer

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Hi there!!

There are so many different opportunities in the field of accounting. I would start off by talking to professors at school and just looking up what internships are out there for accounting students. I've done internships in both the private and public sectors of accounting and I've learned so much just by creating relationships with the people I have met through these experiences.

Emilio recommends the following next steps:

  • Google accounting internships or careers as an accountant
  • Apply for an internship
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Danielle’s Answer

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A solid foundation in the core accounting classes will help prepare you to enter the field of accounting. Beyond these basic skills, I would recommend learning Excel. As an accountant you will use this every day. Beyond accounting and technical skills, it is important to focus on the soft skills. Finding opportunities to lead projects, work with others in a team setting, and learning to communicate professionally will help you in any career path you choose.

Best wishes on your journey!
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Brien’s Answer

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I would learn technology as much as possible (excel) and I would learn basics of financial accounting and tax law.

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Lisa’s Answer

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Hello Adalberto,

I would recommend to try and do a work experience for a short time in the different areas of accounting. Accounting can be divided broadly into Financial and Management accounting. Searching different articles online is a great help to get an understanding. A week would be enough to get a feel for the situation.

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Jasmine’s Answer

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The first step would be to do as much research as you can about the career paths related to accounting - whether it is public/industry accounting or something more finance-focused. The goal is to evaluate if the career field is the right choice for you and your future interest. It's not a bad idea to reach out to current professionals in the field for advice, shadow opportunities, and internship opportunities. Next, do research on which prep courses you are required to take to get into the major/minor at your college, and which would allow credits for the CPA.

Jasmine recommends the following next steps:

  • Read online resources about public accounting, industry accounting, etc to get a feel of the career paths
  • Take any requisite prep courses, strengthen your knowledge about business industries
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zach’s Answer

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talk to someone who actually practices accounting. utilize your career resources and shadow professionals. A lot of people do not realize this but there is a lot of writing involved in auditing.

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Kayla’s Answer

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I think if you are interested in accounting you should try to find an internship in the accounting field. In highschool I was able to intern at my town lawyers office, which made me stand out in college when compared to the other applicants. I also think it is important to be well rounded and make sure you have other interests besides work. People want to work with people they like to spend time with, so make yourself approachable.

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Alex’s Answer

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I would recommend doing an internship before you begin full time. This will really let you figure out what the life is like. I have done 4 accounting internships and learn more than I ever thought possible. An internship is nice because it is not permanent and will show you what a typical season can be like. Also be good with excel.
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Yeskendir (Alex)’s Answer

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I would recommend planning your courses as early as freshman year of college. This is because it often takes more than a few classes to become eligible to take a CPA exam and obtain the CPA license, which is most likely what you will have to get if you are planning on doing private/public accounting in the US. Additionally, each state has its own requirement for the number of credits you need to have in order to become licensed. I knew back in sophomore year of college that you would need to have at least 150 credits to be eligible to get certified in MA. Since my school let me take additional classes during a semester, I tried taking advantage of it and took extra classes to get 150 credits as an undergrad. Other people often pursue a masters degree in accounting, because they did not get that many credits as undergrads. My recommendation would be take all the required accounting classes, take additional courses to meet the credits requirement, attend accounting club if you have one in college, visit accounting events, and start networking with accounting professionals as early as you can.

Yeskendir (Alex) recommends the following next steps:

  • Look through accounting courses for the college you are going to
  • Meet with academic counselor to express your interest in pursuing an accounting career and plan out your academic schedule for the upcoming college years
  • (Optional) If the plan has you getting 130 credits, ask the counselor how you can achieve whatever the state requirement for CPA licence for credits is. If your school lets you overload for free, I would strongly recommend doing so to save on attending a masters program later on both in money and time.
  • Get involved with an accounting club, if there is no club available, start one (this will certainly stand out to recruiters)
  • Read as many industry guides as you can about the profession to figure out what exactly in it you want to pursue. Check in with your career center if they have any subscriptions to resources that provide industry guides. These will really tell you what you will be doing as an accountant day to day, what kind of accounting professions there are, the pay, the flexibility, etc. Also, create a linkedin if you don't have one, and just start connecting with people in the accounting to learn more about their work
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Dave’s Answer

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Talk with professionals who are in the field to get a sense of what they do on a day to day basis. I also encourage you to intern before committing to the field to see if this is something you are truly interested in.

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