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In addition to excellent salaries, a major advantage of a career in accounting is your ability to practice your expertise in almost any industry. With the popularity of mergers, acquisitions, consolidations, and downsizing of the 21st century, accounting professionals enjoy a level of security that many other career tracks lack. While you can still decide to specialize in a specific area of accounting (auditing, analytical, research, forensics, etc.), opportunities should always be available either in your preferred industry or in others, making your skills very portable, which enhances your job security.
Since the majority of accounting rules and regulations are standardized, following Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) as published by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), the requirements faced by accountants of all levels and in all industries are basically identical. Therefore, talented accounting professionals are in demand in all economic conditions and in all sectors of business. Unlike some career paths which are linked to certain products, services or specialty skills, an accounting career opens many doors for advancement and provides a high degree of portability, which is very valuable in all economic climates.
If you are trying to learn what might be a good accounting career path, you will have a wide variety of choices if you have a degree in accounting. Your initial selections depend on your feelings about a primary direction you believe might be interesting. The general choices are public, private or government/non-profit. Public accounting, working for a CPA firm, historically is the most popular for newer accounting graduates because it provides knowledge and experience working with companies in a variety of industries. Unless the firm specializes in one type of company, working for a CPA firm gives a new graduate the opportunity to examine both a number of industries and experience both the write-up and audit function.
You might opt to enter a private industry, which can also be financially lucrative. Either gravitate toward an industry that you already find interesting or do some research to learn what the fastest growing industries are. They will be the most likely to have many entry-level opportunities and some wide open career paths to advancement.
If you're inclined toward public service or helping others, a career in government or nonprofits might be the right path. The accountant salary will be lower than public accounting or private industry, but the security offered by these choices and the satisfaction of doing something worthy are often powerful attractions. All departments of government need talented accounting personnel, including the
These three general paths all lead to interesting, financially rewarding, and important careers. While the physical functions of accounting and auditing are basically identical, the variations in focus of these different paths should all lead to a challenging professional life.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|