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Why do you want to be an accountant

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Chuck’s Answer

You may have heard of the usual reasons to choose a career in accountancy, which include good salaries and the fact it’s a respectable profession.

It's also an ever-changing one. So we've listed reasons in this article, which we hope will inspire you to start your career in accountancy this year. Some may surprise you too.

1. You don't need to be a maths genius

It's a common misconception that accountancy is all about maths. In reality, numeracy is important, but it's only one of a number of required skills. The software does much of the number crunching in today's accountancy firm, with team members increasingly focused on providing guidance to clients.

2. You can work in almost any industry

From fashion to entertainment, construction to non-profits, one thing ties (almost) every industry together - they need finance professionals to help manage and advise them.

When you train as an accountant, you gain skills that can apply to almost any industry of your choosing. In fact, go ahead and name an organization. We're betting you they'll have a need for finance professionals somewhere.

3. It's a great basis for being an entrepreneur

If all businesses need finance professionals, it makes sense for those starting them to have some finance experience themselves. With no need to employ an accountant in the company's early days, it's certainly economical - and fundamental knowledge of how a business's finances should be structured and maintained will also be crucial to keeping the business profitable.

4. It's perfect if you're an adventurer who wants to live abroad

Accountancy is (arguably) the ultimate portable qualification. Not only are the principles universal, applying the world over, but membership of a body such as ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is also globally recognized and respected. If you harbor ambitions of moving abroad, an accountancy qualification could be the passport to your dream city.

5. It's more about advice than number crunching

We've already covered that accountants aren't mathematicians. So what do they do for their clients? Consultancy and advice form the bulk of what accountants provide today - using their expert knowledge to help their customers select the right business structure, minimize unnecessary tax expenditure, and forecast their cash flow for the coming year.

6. It's a seasonal business

Late January, February, and March represent the close of the financial year, and are dreaded by accountants as 'tax season'. It's the busiest time of the year, but on the flip-side, it can mean an easier time of it during the other nine months. Its predictability makes knowing when to plan holidays easier too.

7. You can use it to be a really valuable volunteer to charities

Love to offer your time to charities and other good causes? If you’re a qualified accountant, your time will be hugely valuable to them - saving them a fortune in fees for business necessities such as tax planning. It's a great way to make an accounting qualification as rewarding for others as it is for you.

8. You don't need a degree

Some accountants have degrees, some don't. Having an accountancy degree can enable you to skip a few exams on the way to full qualification, but generally, it doesn't matter whether or not you've been to university. There's nothing stopping you from getting in on the ground floor with accountancy courses for beginners.

9. Accountants are always in demand

If all businesses need finance pros, it should be no surprise that those pros are generally always in demand. It's not a career that's going anywhere either - while increasing automation means that there can be less to do on the calculations side of things, that just means that accountants are spending more time consulting and advising on strategy.

10. You get to spend your time helping people

Like helping others? It could be the perfect career. Accountants help their clients all day long, especially ones who work for an accountancy practice. We think helping people solve their problems and achieve their business goals is a pretty rewarding way to spend your time.

11. It's (almost) recession-proof

OK, nothing is 100% recession-proof, but accountancy comes pretty close. When times are hard, it's usually departments such as sales and marketing, which are hardest hit. Conversely, money troubles usually mean a doubling-down on the finance department, to make sure not a penny is misspent.

I hope this helps you, Skyleigh.
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Nicole’s Answer

Hi Skyleigh,

I studied accounting and finance as a double major in undergrad, and then started out my career in public accounting at KPMG, one of the Big Four firms, where I became a certified public accountant (CPA). Chuck's response highlights many of the reasons to become an accountant, and I'll share a bit more with you, about my personal journey:

Accounting is a skill: I highly recommend accounting. I first knew I enjoyed accounting when I took a high school course and realized that I could easily understand the accounting concepts, that were SO challenging for others' to understand. This set me apart and made me realize that accounting is a SKILL that no one can take away. The fundamentals of accounting never change, compared to other subjects (such as IT or digital marketing) that are constantly evolving and your knowledge can become quickly outdated.

Public accounting: I was easily able to find a job, even before I graduated from college. As a public accountant at KPMG, I could choose to focus in: (1) Taxation or (2) Auditing. I chose auditing. From there, I could choose to focus in: (1) Financial Services or (2) Consumer Products & Goods. I chose Consumer Products & Goods. I got to travel to different companies and learn about their business, their culture, their operations and people, and it really helped me narrow down the type of company I wanted to work for. Some examples of my clients were: Philips Healthcare, Dunkin Donuts, Reebok, charities such as the Boston Foundation, colleges such as Merrimack University, etc. so you can see I was exposed to a lot of different companies.

Careers after accounting: I ultimately moved out of accounting and went on to increasing positions in finance, marketing, and strategy. However - Having an accounting background and a CPA certification makes everyone immediately know that I have strong business acumen and the skills to understand business financials quickly and easily, which is an asset in every single job in business.

I continue to invest in the continuing education needing to maintain my CPA certification for that reason, even though I no longer do formal accounting as my day to day job.

Feel free to comment if you'd like to talk more, or if you have additional questions. I'm happy to speak with you more.

All the best,
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Simeon’s Answer

I am not an accountant, but my work as an IT auditor supports and undergirds the work of accountants on our auditor teams. Really, I like the stability and professional environment the most. The job itself is not particularly engaging, but I am able to contribute to society in a way that helps support me and my family, so that's enough for me.
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Holly’s Answer

I wanted to be an accountant because I loved working with numbers and spreadsheets. It's such a broad field and there are so many things you can do within the accounting field that you aren't limited to just one area. Auditing and tax are big sections of the accounting field, but there are so may others like contract review, revenue recognition, accounts payable and/or receivable, billing, cash balancing, etc. I wasn't big on auditing or tax but found so many other areas of accounting that I love. A big draw too is being able to work in any industry. If one industry is down, then another industry is going to be up and looking for hires. I've worked in many industries including healthcare, construction, telecom, and education. This also helps with the passion part of it, finding an industry you are passionate about and being a part of it.
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Jennifer’s Answer

When I started my college career, I had no intention of being an accountant and was majoring in international relations. I had some time in my schedule and decided to take a few classes in the business school which included an introduction to accounting course. It was during this class that I fell in love with accounting because it just made sense. In these introductory courses, I mostly enjoyed it because I could see how the different transactions logically fit together. I became further convinced that I should be an accountant when I saw how many opportunities there are in the career which offers great job security.

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Zak’s Answer

I ultimately chose to go a slightly different path (corporate finance), but considered accountancy as well. Many of the benefits of going the accountant route come down to one word: security. Accountants have relatively great job and income security. They also have great career flexibility going forward. A background in accounting can be used to pivot to essentially any business field