Are you considering a career change but unsure about which direction to take? You’re not alone. Many people find themselves at a crossroads at some point in their professional lives, seeking new challenges and opportunities. If you’re in this position, you may want to consider accounting as a second career. In this blog post, we’ll explore the advantages of pursuing accounting as a second career and provide guidance on how to make the transition. So, let’s dive in!
Accounting is a versatile and in-demand profession that offers numerous benefits, making it an attractive option for career changers. Here are a few reasons why accounting might be the right choice for your second career:
- Job Stability: The demand for qualified accountants remains high, as businesses of all sizes and industries need professionals to manage their finances. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow 7% from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is driven by an increasing need for financial professionals who can help organizations navigate complex regulatory environments and make informed financial decisions.
- Attractive Salaries: Accountants typically enjoy competitive salaries, with the potential for increased earnings as they gain experience and advance in their careers. The median annual wage for accountants and auditors was $73,560 in May 2020. Additionally, accountants with professional certifications, such as the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA), tend to earn even higher salaries.
- Flexibility: With a wide range of industries and roles available to accountants, you can choose a career path that aligns with your interests and goals. Whether you’re passionate about working for a non-profit organization, a large corporation, or starting your own business, accounting skills are highly transferable and valuable. Accountants can work in various sectors, including government, healthcare, education, and entertainment, to name a few.
- Opportunities for Growth and Advancement: As you gain experience and expertise in accounting, you’ll have the opportunity to advance to higher-level positions, such as financial manager or controller. Obtaining professional certifications, like the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designations, can further enhance your career prospects. Many accountants also choose to specialize in a particular area, such as tax, audit, or forensic accounting, which can lead to even more opportunities for growth and advancement.
- Personal Fulfillment: A career in accounting can be both personally and professionally fulfilling. Accountants play a critical role in helping organizations make sound financial decisions, ensuring their long-term success. By providing valuable financial insights and guidance, accountants contribute to the overall health and stability of the economy.
Making the Transition to Accounting
Now that we’ve established why accounting is a great choice for a second career, let’s discuss how to make the transition. Here are some steps to help you get started:
1. Assess Your Skills and Interests
Take some time to reflect on your existing skills and interests to determine how they align with a career in accounting. Are you detail-oriented? Do you enjoy working with numbers and analyzing data? Do you have strong problem-solving and critical thinking abilities? If so, these traits will serve you well in an accounting role.
It’s also essential to consider your long-term goals and what you hope to achieve in your new career. Do you want to work for a specific industry or type of organization? Are you interested in specializing in a particular area of accounting? Answering these questions will help you determine whether accounting is the right fit for you and guide your educational and career choices.
2. Enhance Your Education
While it’s possible to find entry-level accounting positions with a non-accounting degree, pursuing further education in accounting can significantly improve your job prospects and help you gain the necessary knowledge and skills. Options for further education include:
- Accounting Certificate Programs: These programs typically take less than a year to complete and can provide a solid foundation in accounting principles. Some programs, like the AIPB’s Professional Bookkeeper Certification, are specifically designed for individuals seeking a career change to accounting. Certificate programs can be an excellent option for those who want to test the waters before committing to a more extended degree program or for those who already have a strong educational background in another field.
- Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting: If you don’t already have a degree in accounting, consider pursuing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree to gain a comprehensive understanding of the field. Many colleges and universities offer online accounting degree programs that allow you to study at your own pace while maintaining your current job. An associate’s degree in accounting can be completed in as little as two years, while a bachelor’s degree typically takes four years to complete. Both options will provide you with a strong foundation in accounting principles and practices, as well as general business knowledge.
- Online College Courses: If you already have a bachelor’s and need extra courses to fulfill your 150 credits requirement to earn your CPA, you can take the courses you need easily and affordably at cpacredits.com
Regardless of the educational path you choose, be sure to select a program that is accredited by a reputable organization, such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Accreditation ensures that the program meets high-quality standards and is recognized by employers and other educational institutions.
3. Gain Practical Experience
Hands-on experience is invaluable when transitioning to a new career. Look for opportunities to gain practical accounting experience, such as:
- Volunteering: Offer your accounting services to local non-profit organizations or community groups. Organizations like Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) provide free tax preparation services and often seek volunteers with accounting skills. Volunteering not only allows you to gain practical experience but also demonstrates your commitment to the accounting profession and your community.
- Internships or Part-time Jobs: Seek out internships or part-time accounting positions to gain experience while you’re still studying or working in your current job. Many companies offer accounting internships for career changers or students. These opportunities can provide you with valuable hands-on experience and help you build a professional network in the accounting field.
- Freelance or Contract Work: Offer your accounting services on a freelance or contract basis to gain experience and build your portfolio. Websites like Upwork and Freelancer can help you find freelance accounting projects. This option can be particularly appealing if you’re looking for flexible work arrangements or want to gain experience in a variety of industries and roles.
4. Network with Accounting Professionals
Networking is crucial for career changers, as it can help you learn more about the industry, discover job opportunities, and gain valuable advice from experienced professionals. Attend local accounting events, join online forums, or participate in professional accounting associations to connect with others in the field. Networking can also help you build relationships with potential mentors who can offer guidance and support as you navigate your new career.
Some professional accounting associations to consider joining include:
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
- Institute of Management Accountants (IMA)
- Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA & CIMA)
- National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA)
In addition to joining professional associations, consider attending industry conferences and events, such as the AICPA & CIMA ENGAGE Conference or the IMA Annual Conference & Expo. These events offer opportunities to learn about the latest industry trends, network with professionals, and participate in educational sessions.
In summary, it’s never too late to pursue a career in accounting. With its job stability, attractive salaries, flexibility, and opportunities for growth, accounting is an excellent choice for those seeking a fulfilling second career. By assessing your skills and interests, enhancing your education, gaining practical experience, and networking with professionals, you can successfully transition to an exciting and rewarding career in accounting. So, take the leap and embrace the world of numbers!