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How to Boost Your Accounting Career

“Managers and investors alike must understand that accounting numbers are the beginning, not the end, of business valuation.”

Warren Buffett

The earliest records of accounting were dated over 7000 years ago as our forebearers used accounting techniques to determine if there was a surplus or shortage of crops after the harvest each season. Since then, accounting has been recognized throughout history as a necessary part of the business world, and indeed life in general. The advantage accountants have over many other professions is that they can be sure their skills will always be in demand and at nearly twice the average wage, it’s a lucrative career as well.

While it is usually necessary to obtain an accounting qualification before embarking on this career path, for those already qualified and employed as an accountant, how can you give your career a boost? Perhaps you have seen others in your department getting those promotions over you, or perhaps you are a one-man show who would like to make yourself invaluable to your organization. Regardless, there are steps you can take to further your career prospects and increase your salary.

Qualify as A CPA

CPA stands for Certified Public Accountant. In order to practice as a CPA, you will first need to obtain a license, which is subject to a rigorous CPA exam as well as work experience. These ensure that all accountants practicing as a CPA maintain the highest standard of knowledge and ethics.

In order to sit the exam to become a qualified CPA, a bachelor’s degree or an online masters in accounting and a minimum of 150 college credits is required, which is 30 more than a typical bachelor’s degree. It takes at least seven years to qualify as a CPA and you will also need two years of full-time work experience to be eligible to sit the exam.

As a Certified Public Accountant, you will be responsible for the following:

  1. Financial records for a department or organization.
  2. Compiling and analyzing financial data.
  3. Ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations.
  4. Preparing written reports for clients or management.
  5. Advising management on streamlining activities to reduce costs and increase profit.
  6. Preparing tax returns for corporations or individuals.
  7. Providing financial and investment advice to companies or clients.

Benefits include:

  1. The respect of your peers as well as prestige within your organization.
  2. Clear career development.
  3. Career security, as CPA’s are in demand, due to the fact that they enforce higher standards of accounting.
  4. Job satisfaction as you perform highly specialized job functions.
  5. 10% higher starting salary than accountants without the CPA qualification.
  6. Above average employment growth.

Improve Your Networking Skills

Networking has been found to be the primary route to a new job. These are positions that are filled through referrals before they are even posted online. Getting your foot through the door before a job becomes public is key to securing the best roles with the best career progression.

Choose A Great Mentor

Many accountants will engage with a mentor for advice. A mentor is someone with many more years of experience who can help develop your leadership abilities as well as assist you in building a network of connections to help advance your career. Just as a mentor can assist you with all their years of experience, similarly, you can return the favor with your up to date training and cutting-edge technological knowledge.

“Accounting is the language of business.”

Warren Buffett

Keep Abreast of Technological Advancements

Be sure that you are at the forefront of new technology available to streamline your accountancy activities and to make you more appealing to new employers or indeed advance your career within your current job. Make sure that you are always on the lookout for new skills and technologies to further your existing skillset. Remember that when competing against other accountants for the same position, it is important that you bring up to date and cutting-edge skills to the table to set you apart from the competition.

If you have gained your CPA license, then you will need to comply with the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) requirements laid down by your state board of accountancy. This demands that you stay up to date with new laws in order to provide the relevant advice to your clients or employer.

Vary Your Areas of Expertise

Bear in mind that once you have mastered one area of expertise, then regardless of how many years you spend doing it, you won’t be able to broaden your horizons or indeed further your career. By familiarizing yourself with various types of activity within the field of accounting, you will be protecting your long-term career prospects and may even discover a specialty that interests you more. Remember that lots of experience in different niches relating to accountancy can only serve to strengthen your resume.

Take A Management Course

Just because you have spent countless hours qualifying as an accountant doesn’t mean that you have all the skills required to make a great manager. Even if you’re not a manager now, there is no harm in preparing for what might lie ahead and the skills obtained in a management course can be applied regardless. Skills like communication, empathy, decision making, time management and conflict resolution will make you stand out to your employers and solidify your place as a valuable team member. Demonstrate to your employer that you are ready to hit the ground running should a new managerial opportunity arise.

Make It Known to Your Employer That You Have Ambitions

As simple as it sounds, employers will often be impressed with employees who demonstrate ambitions beyond their current station. A company filled with ambitious individuals will often succeed beyond expectations. Be aware that ambition must be handled carefully and as a team member. Don’t compete with your colleagues but rather inspire and motivate others towards a common goal. Show that you have the capability to drive a team to achieve maximum results and demonstrate problem-solving skills with professional and technical expertise.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.

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