Careers in accounting have always been in demand. In 2016, the BLS estimated that there were 1.3 million accounting positions in the United States. By 2026, that number is projected to rise to 1.5 million. Jobs for accountants continue to expand, providing excellent career satisfaction and security. Additionally, the average annual salary for an accountant is $69k, significantly more than the median salary for all professions.
Though moving up the accounting ladder is easier said than done, taking the right steps will ensure you get the job done rather smoothly. To give you a better idea, here are a few tried-and-true strategies that will pave the way for out-of-proportion growth:
5 Advance Tips For Accounting In Your Career
1. Obtain your CPA Certification
Acquiring the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification can significantly boost your accounting career. This qualification is highly demanded by employers and helps you stand out among other candidates. Like other industries, accountants’ salary is based on various factors. However, with a CPA, you can anticipate roughly earning a million dollars more compared to your non-CPA peers throughout your career. Along with a better salary, holding a CPA certification gives you negotiation leverage and access to several other perks.
Bachelor’s is the minimum degree required for accountant positions, along with the completion of specific hours of study. It explains why most professionals pursue a master’s of accountancy degree to attain career advancement. A master’s degree hones essential accounting and finance skills alongside boosting career growth prospects.
2. Keep up with the latest technology
The last several years have seen a massive technological change that has modified many different corporate activities. As a result of this transformation, accounting has also witnessed a significant increase in efficiency. With the advent of digital tools like advanced applications and analytics, accountants have been able to make the transition from completing repetitive tasks to acting as strategic business partners.
Eliminating human mistakes is technology’s most noticeable effect on the accounting field. With the right technology, accountants can easily fix errors and provide accurate financial data to their clients.
3. Find a mentor
Mentors are experts in a given profession who have demonstrated their ability to guide others. People who want to get to the top in any sector, whether it is technology or professional sports, often solicit the aid of knowledgeable mentors to help them along the way. The same goes for the accounting sector.
With proper mentorship, young accountants can get insight that can only come from the wisdom of age, allowing them to avoid pitfalls and make the most of opportunities. Since many procedures and conflicts in the accounting sector are intricate and call for in-depth familiarity with the system, a mentor can come in handy to guide you in the right direction.
Besides, open communication is fostered in a supportive mentoring environment. When a mentor has earned their mentee’s trust, the mentee is more receptive to constructive criticism, realizing that it is meant to help them grow professionally.
While looking for a mentor in accounting, it can be tempting to approach the dynamic speaker from the last seminar you attended or the tax manager profiled in a professional journal. However, this may not be the best option. Experts advise against approaching a stranger to act as a mentor. Why? Successful mentorships are built on a foundation of mutual agreement and trust. If a mentor does not already know you, they probably will not take sufficient time to help you.
4. Expand your network
As an accountant, it is easy to get lost in a haze of numbers and spreadsheets and forget about the evolving world outside your cubicle. But this is possibly the worst thing for your career. There is no getting away from the fact that your technical abilities will help you find work in the accounting industry. That said, getting the hang of connections and expanding your professional network can give you an edge over other accountants and pave the way to a more successful career.
So, to begin with, your office could be an ideal place to apply your networking skills. Employees come and go, and their ultimate destination is anyone’s guess. They may be able to vouch for you in times of need, connect you with useful contacts, or even work their way up to the position of chief financial officer (CFO) or strategic partner at your company. Therefore, cultivating professional relationships with coworkers is in your best interest.
You can get together once a month for lunch or meet for coffee once a week. Place a warm welcome mat, seek common ground, work on initiatives, and exchange ideas and contacts. Likewise, be sure to stay in touch with coworkers even after you have left the company. You never know which of your colleagues might end up being important to your future success.
We also recommend going to seminars and discussions for efficient networking. At the end of the event, stick around to connect with the presenters and attendees. If you have done your research, you will have at least some idea of who you are looking for in the crowd.
5. Nurture soft skills
The growing prevalence of technology in finance has refocused attention on soft skills. Though technology can automate tasks and handle data crunching more efficiently than humans, it cannot feel empathy for its clients or tell a compelling story. Therefore, becoming a well-rounded accounting professional requires developing soft skills, including storytelling, time management, effective communication, decision-making, persuasive presentation, etc.
One way to improve soft skills is to be receptive to criticism from higher-ups and peers. If you are open to feedback, you will have a better chance of getting constructive criticism and being able to put that insight to enhance your soft skills.
Despite economic downturns, a career in accounting remains one of the most stable options. Accounting is also a popular line of work because it provides ample opportunity for diversification and self-employment for those with the right talents. If you feel stuck in your accounting career for some time and cannot progress despite your best efforts, implementing these tactics will help big time.