The truth is, it’s not exactly easy to become an accountant. Not only is it a rather demanding and challenging position, but it’s also one in which your expectations are set pretty high.
What is easy, though, is figuring out the path to take to find an accounting position. This is, to put it simply, because the path is quite narrow; while many other careers are attainable through a variety of pathways, becoming an accountant requires that you generally follow a fairly rigid progression.
Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to do.
3 Things You Need To Do To Start an Accounting or Finance Career
#1: Gain the Proper Education, Licensing, and Skills
The pathway to a career in accounting or finance begins with a proper education. While it’s possible to get your foot in the door as a bookkeeper with a two-year degree, you’ll eventually want to at least earn a Bachelor’s in a field related to accounting.
If your goal is to work as a public accountant, you’ll need to pass the Certified Public Accountant exam. To be able to sit for this exam, you’ll typically have to have completed 150 or more college credits. In order to do so, many accountants usually also attain their MBA – and take the CPA exam during their course of study.
(Note: CPA licensure requirements vary by state. Take a look to see your state’s requirements.)
During your course of study, you’ll focus on strengthening your math skills, your attention to detail, and your knowledge of accounting guidelines and regulations. While you’ll be free to take a variety of electives during your undergrad program, it’s advised that you focus on these areas as much as possible.
#2: Find Open Positions
As you get closer to graduating and becoming a certified accountant, you’ll want to begin looking everywhere you can for open positions in the field.
Your best bet, if you’re still in school, is to work with your college’s recruitment program to see if there are any entry-level positions, or even internship positions, opening up in the near future. While such positions won’t pay much (if at all) it could be a good way to get your foot in the door in order to essentially walk into a job upon graduating.
Additionally, you can also check with your professors to see if they know of any companies in need of an accountant. At the very least, your professors should be able to point you in the right direction when looking for a job.
Lastly, consider contacting alumni via your school’s career office. As with your professors, they may be able to introduce you to companies in need of a new employee, or at least provide you with some guidance as to the next steps to take.
#3: Prepare Your Resume, and For an Interview
We’ve recently discussed the best practices for creating a resume (NOTE: LINK TO THAT ARTICLE HERE), so for our specific purposes here, let’s focus on both preparing your resume and preparing for an interview.
Essentially, you want to keep three main things in mind:
- Your objective strengths with regard to the field of accounting
- Reasons you’d be the best-fit employee for the position in question
- An explanation of any real-world (or hypothetical, as the case may be) situation in which you’ve utilized your accounting skills to effectively solve a problem or accomplish a goal
Again, your prospective employer will want to know not only that you’re qualified for the position, but that you’ll be able to handle the actual workload that comes with said position. Your qualifications will get you in the door – but it’s your ability to think on your feet and apply what you’ve learned that will land you the job.
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