Accounting has been an exciting, lucrative and popular career choice for eons. And it is easy to see why since every organization under the sun needs an accountant. Your skills as an accountant will always be in demand meaning you have job security and many other benefits, including a good salary. And it should go without saying you should always want to advance your accounting career going forward.
A good salary, you say? Yes, indeed!
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants earned a median salary of $71,550 in 2019. Your salary depends on other factors such as experience, location and seniority. For example, a CFO in the U.S. makes anywhere between $76,000 and $223,000 per year, according to PayScale.
As an accountant, you can look forward to an increasing number of employment opportunities. According to the BLS, there were over 1.4 million accounting jobs in 2019, and the profession is expected to grow by 4% between 2019 and 2029.
If you think 4% is a tiny number, the projected numeric change in employment represents over 61,000 new jobs. That’s an average of 6,100 additional jobs per year between 2019 and 2029. According to the BLS, that’s “…about as fast as the average for all occupations.”
As you can see, accounting is a popular and lucrative career. But how can you climb the corporate ladder? How can you advance your accounting career to net the high-paying jobs? How can you boost your career prospects as an accountant?
Below, we share five best ways to advance your accounting career in 2020 and beyond. Without further ado, let us start.
How to Advance Your Accounting Career in 2020
We have listed the following pointers in no particular order. Pick and run with any tip and then build up momentum from there. In no time, you’ll be the accountant every organization wants.
1. Become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Industry credentials mean everything in the world of accounting, and one of the most important is the CPA. It’s tough to earn, but the rewards are worth every second you’ll spend studying and taking the exam.
For example, did you know CPAs earn one million more than their non-certified counterparts over the course of their careers? That’s right, according to Kenneth W. Boyd of Accounting Institute for Success. But earning more isn’t the only benefit of becoming a CPA.
Certified Public Accountants get better job opportunities than non-certified accountants. It doesn’t matter whether you work as a public accountant or an accountant for a private company, a CPA opens doors for you that would otherwise remain closed without the certification.
On top of that, CPAs are always in demand whether the economy is crashing or soaring.
Why? Because getting your CPA license makes you a better and more desirable candidate. It shows employers that you have the education, experience, grit and passion to pursue your goals.
Another thing, becoming a CPA comes with prestige and respect. Employers know it takes a lot of dedication, effort and time to become a CPA, and they respect you for it. Much like people respect pilots and neurosurgeons.
2. Find a Mentor to Help Advance Your Accounting Career
Do you want to advance your accounting career? Of course, you do. And if that’s the case, you need a mentor or two. Mentors are great tools to advance your accounting career since they are usually older and more experienced than you.
A mentor will come in handy when you’re stuck because chances are high that they have been in your current position in the past. A mentor offers you the kind of advice and knowledge you’ll never learn in school, and then some.
Mentors also offer you the drive and motivation you need to push your accounting career to greater heights. They want to you to succeed and will go out of their way to see you soar high like an eagle. But don’t forget to play your part as a mentee.
Keep nurturing your relationship with your mentor in all the best ways. A simple “Thank you” is a great starting point. Don’t know where to start? Check out AICPA Mentoring Program.
I have applied for a ton of jobs in my life and guess what? The most exciting and lucrative jobs didn’t come from my applications; they came from referrals. Yes, that’s right; there is great value in networking, more so if you’re an aspiring accountant.
Nurturing an extensive network of peers takes effort and time, but the rewards are phenomenal. You can always turn to your network for advice, ideas and guidance regarding everything accounting. You can also leverage your network for collaboration opportunities if, say, you’d like to start an accounting firm.
The biggest benefit of networking is you’re in a better position to find your next job. That’s right, most jobs are never advertised online (or elsewhere); they are filled through referrals. According to LinkedIn Pulse, 85% of jobs are filled via networking. Whoa – you didn’t know that either, now did you?
5. Keep Updated
Earning a degree in accounting and passing your CPA exam are two of the best ways of breaking into the world of accounting. A degree in accounting opens many doors for you without a doubt. You can work as a budget analyst, financial advisor and financial manager, among other finance-related jobs.
But earning a degree and passing your CPA is just the starting point. If you sit back in your office and let changes in the world of accounting pass you by, your skill set will become obsolete and irrelevant in the job market.
You need to stay upbeat and abreast with the latest developments in accounting. That’s the only way you will be able to compete with others eyeing your dream job. Otherwise, you will fall off, and advancing your accounting career will be a pipe dream.
Here’s another fun fact. Did you know to keep your CPA license you must comply with the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) requirements set by NASBA? Now you know why you must stay abreast with new laws and competencies required of you as an accountant.
On top of that, learn the latest accounting software such as Excel, Oracle, SAP and Microsoft Dynamics. Also, learn how to use business intelligence tools such as Crystal Reports and Cognos.
Keep up with accounting publications and news to have a firm grasp of what’s trending.
6. Work on Your Soft Skills
Nobody likes working with a jerk, and I know this firsthand from my younger days, when I joined the workforce. I was an entitled tool who was used to having his way, but that lost me a lot of job opportunities and street cred. I would blame a lack of professional training, but well, that wasn’t the case.
Later, I learned how to be a team player while still voicing my opinions without hurting people’s feelings. And that changed everything for yours truly. Nowadays, I enjoy great relationships with my clients, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Same thing applies to all other areas of life, not just accounting. Soft skills will help you go very far in your career, and everything else you’ll ever do.
But what exactly are soft skills?
Soft skills are interpersonal skills that help you to function effectively as a leader or team member. They include (but not limited to):
- Communication skills
- Decision making
- Time management
- Ability to inspire and motivate others
- Integrity and honesty
- Conflict resolution
- Self-development (like earning your CPA license 😊)
- Et cetera
I hope you get the gist of things.
And that’s it!
You now have five great tips to advance your accounting career? Are you privy to more tips or would like to share your thoughts? Please do so in the comment section below. I will man the comment section for the next 24 hours and would love to hear your feedback.
Cheers to great success in the future!