It is often assumed that people enter careers in accounting for security, not enjoyment. But how accurate is this?
According to recent research by Monster.com, accountants are among the most satisfied with their jobs. This is supported by a US study that analysed more than 100,400 employees in terms of 10 factors that contribute to workplace happiness found that the 8th happiest job was accounting.
On top of this, a recent survey of AAT qualified or part-qualified accountants shows that 74% are satisfied with their jobs.
So, let’s challenge some of the assumptions that are commonly made about working in accounting.
As accounting is such an important part of any organisation, there are high expectations of accountants, and many have significant levels of responsibility.
Accounting is a bigger, more complex field of expertise than most people think, and accountants always have more to learn. While it is a practical profession, it has close links with fields like finance, economics and law, which means that there is more knowledge relevant to accounting than any one person could learn in a lifetime.
Even within accounting itself, there are a number of specialised areas, each of which has its own set of knowledge and practices, and takes years to master. This means that accountants often work in very specific fields, such as audit or tax, becoming experts throughout their careers.
Which accounting career path is right for you?
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If you think being an accountant means sitting in a corner with an abacus all day, think again. There is actually a surprising amount of diversity within the profession, with a massive choice of potential career paths and roles.
Accountants don’t have to work at generic accounting firms, and can specialise in exciting areas such as entertainment or forensic accounting. They can join organisations within almost any industry, in roles from credit control to management accounting. Accountants can tailor their careers to their interests, whether they particularly enjoy detailed analysis, strategic thinking, or something else.
Even within a single role, there is normally a great deal of variety. Accountants are often involved with a number of different clients or projects at any one time, allowing them to switch focus and exercise different skills.
Is it often thought that accountants are simply people who are good with numbers. But you don’t need to be a mathematician; in fact, being a good accountant requires a number of other important skills. Here are some that might surprise you.
As accounting is at the centre of any organisation, accountants can end up meeting and working with almost anyone. Whether they work for a firm or in-house, they are required to work closely with other professionals, such as those in senior management, sales, IT and human resources.
They need to be able to explain complex financial information in a way that is easily understandable for those from different professional backgrounds, which involves carefully tailoring their communication to different audiences.
At some point in their careers, most accountants will be involved in leading others. Even if they don’t take on a direct management role, they often provide a role model or mentor for less experienced team members. More experienced accountants are likely to take the lead on projects, coordinating others involved and motivating them towards shared goals.
Accountants do far more than crunch numbers, and will often need to come up with solutions, suggestions and strategies based on their analysis of financial data. This involves being able to see the bigger picture, and the ability to come up with innovative ideas.
Accounting is a challenging, varied and highly skilled profession. To find out about taking your first steps with an accounting qualification, get in touch below.