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Discuss the pros and cons of being an Accountant?

Tyriq, age 19

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Subject: Career question for you

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PwC’s Answer

On the bright side, this economy is teeming with abundant opportunities. However, a little heads up - during the peak season, you might find yourself putting in a few extra hours.
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PwC’s Answer

Pros:
Amazing connections
Opportunity to create your own path
Give a sense of accomplishment

Cons:
Long hours
Extended schooling (for CPA)
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Chris’s Answer

Pros:
1. Job Security
- At present, there's a significant shortage of CPAs. Despite a high number of accounting graduates, many don't pursue CPA certification or enter the accounting field. This situation results in increased demand and job security for those who do.

2. Expertise in a Specific Area
- Accounting is an incredibly diverse field, offering numerous options to specialize in. By developing expertise in a particular area, you create a valuable skillset that can be leveraged for ongoing career success.

3. Financial Stability
- In addition to the lucrative nature of an accounting career, being an accounting professional also enables you to better understand and manage your personal finances. This knowledge opens up opportunities to secure your financial future.

Cons:
1. Industry Needs vs. Personal Preferences
- It can be challenging to find the exact type of work you're interested in. Upon graduating, it's difficult to fully grasp the range of career options within accounting firms. As you advance in your career, you may feel pigeonholed into a specific area or subject that no longer interests you. To explore your desired areas of accounting, you must take the initiative and seek out those opportunities yourself.

2. Work-Life Balance
- This is a common concern for accountants, especially those in public accounting. With tight deadlines throughout the year, late nights are often required. However, if you find the right team and can handle occasional long hours, work-life balance issues can be minimized. On the other hand, if you're not passionate about your work or feel mismatched with your team, those long hours can become more challenging to manage.

3. Competitive Pay
- In recent years, the hot labor market has provided opportunities for competitive pay early in one's career. However, during the initial years, better-paying opportunities may exist in the corporate/financial sector. The impact of AI and remote work could further affect this situation in the coming years. In accounting, patience is key; as you develop specialized expertise or a unique skillset, you'll eventually unlock the lucrative rewards the field has to offer.

I hope this enhanced information is helpful!
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Suzanne’s Answer

Pros:
1. Good pay
2. Stable work environment
3. You get to work with lots of intelligent colleagues
4. Always learning

Cons:
1. Depending on what division you work in (Audit, Tax, etc.) you have different busy seasons which bring long hours
2. Tedious work
3. Work life balance can be hard to find, but is definitely achievable at the right company with the right team
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Qinghao’s Answer

There are definitely different way of looking at the question:
1. Future income - starting salary is average if you compare to marketing, computer science, energy, EE......, but it grows when your experiences grow, which is a good thing, because certain careers don't decide your income based on experiences;
2. Flexibility - perfect because we need accountant anywhere and in any industries in the world.
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Qinghao’s Answer

There are various perspectives to consider when examining this question:
1. Future earnings - While the initial salary may be average compared to fields like marketing, sales, computer science, energy, and electrical engineering, it tends to increase as your experience grows. This is a positive aspect, as some professions don't place the same emphasis on years of experience.
2. Industry/Geographical Flexibility - This is excellent, as accountants are needed in every industry and location worldwide.
3. Recognition/Image - It's great that you can add the CPA title to your name after passing the exams, similar to Dr., MBA, JD, and CFA. However, some individuals might view accountants as unexciting people.
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Jennifer’s Answer

There are so many pros! Accounting has many applications and the type of work you can do is very broad. You can work for big companies, small family owned companies, or work for yourself. You can do tax work, audit, or general ledger accounting. So even if you try one aspect of accounting and do not like it, you can easily parallel those skills to a different role. You are never locked into a particular role or company with little option for change. Career growth is very possible in accounting to the extent the person wants to pursue that growth. Accountants can pursue many certifications or can get involved in with other areas of business, such as compliance or IT as they want to grow their career. You get to help others in a business make important decisions that can contribute to the success of the company, which can be very rewarding in many ways. Also, most accounting positions pay decent wages and benefits.

Cons are some times/projects can be stressful and demanding of your time. You also have to frequently speak with individuals who do not understand the field or your job and therefore will not always value your time/contributions. It can be difficult to deal with depending on your personality.
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Jordan’s Answer

Pros:
- Stable career, accountants are always in need
- Very good pay trajectory
- Unlimited opportunities. You don't have to just work in public accounting, the degree can take you to very niche professions.

Cons:
- Depending on where you work, hours can be extreme.
- There is the potential of seasonal burnout
- Depending on firm, the work-life balance can be hard to manage
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samantha’s Answer

Pros:
- Accounting is a very stable career choice, they are always needed
- Job security
- It's a challenging field that is always changing
- Lot's of growth opportunities
- There are so many different fields in accounting to choose from

Cons:
- Depending on where you end up, hours can be really long
- Busy season
- Can be very tedious work
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Becky’s Answer

Pros: There will always be a need for accountants, pay is good, lots of opportunities in various industries and various areas within accounting (tax, audit, finance, etc). You are exposed to a lot within a company, every department has an impact on accounting. You are the support for the operations and it is an opportunity to learn more about the operations and be a good business partner.
Cons would be that it can sometimes be routine and boring but some see the repetition as a pro. It can be competitive and some accounting personalities can be very harsh and black and white. A lot of strict deadlines and availability to work the first week of every month during close.
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Shequanda’s Answer

Pros: The pay is really good. Accountants are needed in all industries. Connections are made with all of the other business functions.
Cons: Stressful during month end closing and planning periods. Strict deadlines
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Cayleigh’s Answer

Pursuing a career in accounting can lead you to many opportunities within any business as well as opportunities in Public Accounting. I have been in accounting for 10 years now and the opportunities are endless. As you progress your career, there will be a consistent stream of new opportunities as your knowledge and experience increases. I've worked as an assistant controller in a privately held company as well as over 9 years in Public accounting working for CPA firms in Tax and Audit. Based on my experience the Pros and Cons of each are below:

Public Accounting Pro's (Audit & Tax):
Competitive Pay and benefits that continuously rises with your experience, knowledge and tenure.
Typically, 4-5 weeks of Paid Time Off as well as holidays
Flexibility of your schedule - A lot of the work as you progress can be done outside of normal business hours which allows you to take time during the day occasionally for appointments, children's activities, etc. and still get your work done.
Lifetime Learning - In audit and tax you will work with a multitude of businesses and learn the ins and outs of their business processes, business cycles, supply chains, accounting and reporting, production, etc. This has led to many networking opportunities, new job opportunities, and a general understanding of a lot of business types over the years. Also, in public accounting you will continue to obtain accounting and tax training as the regulations are always changing. There is never a dull moment in public accounting and very unlikely you'll find yourself bored. If you enjoy continuous learning, this is a great career choice.

Public Accounting Cons (Audit & Tax):
Long hours for peak seasons of the year - Between 50 - 65 for a few months of the year. Outside of this depending on your industry, between 40 - 50 in the off seasons. (They offer a lot of paid time off to make up for this).
Can require a lot of travel to different clients and working at their locations for a week or more as an auditor. This has been decreasing since COVID.
Very strict deadlines and requires an absolute attention to detail and commitment to meeting client's expectations. Detail oriented individuals that are driven to get tasks completed timely and deadline driven will do well. If you are a procrastinator, this will be your detriment in this industry with all of the competing deadlines and client demands.

Private industry accounting Pros:
Flexibility of schedule
Less demanding hours in most cases compared to Public accounting.
Learning curve isn't as steep as you are learning one organization's accounting and procedures rather than many in Public.

Private industry accounting Cons:
Less variety in the work you perform or business functions you learn as it is only applicable to the organization you work for.
Pay typically starts out lower than Public Accounting and rises slower.
If the company has cash flow challenges or closes this will directly impact your position if they are not stable.
May take more time to get enough knowledge and experience to move to more executive positions than if you worked in public accounting.
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Peter’s Answer

Hi Tyriq,

As someone who changed into accounting as a second career a few pros and cons to why I chose it.

Pros:
1. As most others said there is always a need for accountants and it was relatively easy to get my first accounting job out of school.
2. There are many remote opportunities in the field and you do not have to tie yourself down to one specific location if you do not want to be.
3. You are always learning something new and things are always changing in this field.

Cons:
1. The only real con that I have 5 years into accounting are busy season hours, there are 4-5 months at least where you will be extremely busy, especially if you choose to go into public accounting.
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Dani’s Answer

The field of accounting is very broad, and could encompass many different roles! Before analyzing the pros and cons, I would recommend getting a little bit more specific about the type of accounting work that you’re interested in! They’re accounting rules of private companies, where you work on their internal accounting team. Or there are jobs in public accounting .Their accounting rules of private companies, where you work on their internal accounting team. Or there are jobs in public accounting, where you consult for companies or individuals, and help them with their bookkeeping work, taxes, or auditing.

Is someone with experience working in corporate tax at a public accounting firm, I can share the following following:

Pros:
- ample job opportunities, these include various types of internships you can get during college And a wide variety of opportunities after graduation. The best thing about public accounting is that if you can secure an internship during college, and you perform well, it is very likely for them to offer you a full-time job, and for you to have secured a full-time position before you even graduate! The best thing about public accounting is that if you can secure an internship during college and you perform well, it is very likely for them to offer you a full-time job and for you to have secured a full-time position before you even graduate from undergrad.
- most large public accounting firms (top 25) Will also pay for you to receive CPA exam Study materials, will most likely reimburse you for the cost of the exams, and even offer a bonus when you pass all parts of the exam and become licensed!
- most large public accounting firms will offer tuition reimbursement which can help you pay down your student debt, or even help you obtain a masters degree relevant to your role after a certain amount of time with the company.
- The salary and public accounting is pretty competitive and will give you a great start to your professional life and saving for your future
- A lot of accounting firms have recently made the switch to unlimited PTO, which means that whenever you’re not busy season, you’re able to take PTO at your leisure, and with your managers approval! Usually firms will have an unofficial cap on this, but this is a great pro due to the fact that you will work long hours during busy season, so it helps balance it out!


Cons:
- The biggest drawback of public accounting, and general accounting work, is the seasonality of the business. As you’ll see in the comments, most people will refer to busy season, this refers to the months surrounding important deadlines or due dates for accounting work, financial statements, or even their tax returns. Busy season is typically anywhere from 60 to 70 hours plus a week, however, this largely depends on the type of accounting work you were doing. please note that my experience pertains to corporate tax work, for a field that is in the same realm you could expect 60 to 70 hours a week from mid February to late April, and mid August to late October.
- Jobs in public accounting or salaried, so you will be working the 60 to 70 hours a week and not being compensated for the “overtime”
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Grace’s Answer

Answers specific to public accounting:

Pros: (1) Fast learning progression; (2) Opportunities to learn various industries; (3) Ability to be promoted relatively quickly, improving your skill sets to either progress in public accounting or move into a more advanced role in private accounting; (4) Opportunity to work in a team environment with other young professionals; (5) Access to mentors as you will have direct working relationships with managers and partners; (6) Lots of needs so many opportunities for employment post-college and internships during your college years.

Cons: (1) Work hours can be above average in some parts of the year; (2) Requires significant and diligent communication with your internal teams and the client so can be challenging if that's not something you are comfortable with (this could also be a pro if this is something you enjoy!); (3) Typically requires some level of commuting if you are traveling to client sites.
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Carolina’s Answer

Hi Tyriq! Having worked in tax accounting for several years, here are some pros and cons from specifically for Tax Accountants:

Pros:
1. This is a recession-proof job (people will always need help with taxes)
2. Very flexible work, especially nowadays with many remote options
3. Learn new things every day, tax law changes constantly and tax seasons can be very different from one year to another
4. You build expertise that you can apply to many different types of clients
5. Contrary to popular belief, tax accountants are usually outgoing people (you have to so you can talk to many different types of clients and coworkers), so depending on which tax accounting firm you work for, there can be many fun activities year-round, especially at the end of tax seasons.

Cons:
1. You have to keep up with constant law changes
2. Busy season can be very hard mentally and physically. The stress from long hours can deteriorate your health, have to make sure you're taking care of yourself on a daily basis (nutrition, exercise, sleep, etc)
3. If you work in a traditional office setting, it could be very hard to attend to family (highly recommend a remote or hybrid position in this field)


Hope this helps you in your career choice in the future!
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Amber’s Answer

Pros: A diverse range of opportunities awaits you in the accounting field, including working for public accounting firms, being self-employed, or joining small businesses and nonprofits. The constant growth and challenges in this profession will keep you engaged and interested. Many accounting jobs offer the convenience of working from home and the flexibility to balance your work with family commitments, hobbies, and other personal interests.

Cons: While accounting does involve deadlines that may require longer working hours during specific periods, it's essential to remember that all jobs have their ups and downs. Some tasks might seem monotonous, but every profession has its share of tedious and mundane work. Embrace these aspects as part of the overall rewarding experience that accounting offers.
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