How to Start a New Career in Accounting

Man in professional setting looking down.

You have an impressive resume in your chosen field, rich with myriad professional highlights and experiences to carry you on your upward trajectory. But something seems amiss lately, and you find yourself at somewhat of a crossroads.

Your career path has helped you build new skill sets, hone existing ones and strengthen your network. But you can sense that the time has come to make a change … and a career in accounting is the professional path that resonates the loudest with you. 

Is it time to switch gears? Know that you’re not alone — in fact, statistics show the average American employee will make a career change between three to seven times in their lives. During the Great Resignation of 2021, 53 percent of employed adults quit their jobs and changed their occupations, according to Pew Research. 

So if accounting is the field of work that piques your interest the most, go for it! Here are some tips on how to make the pivot.

Make Sure Your Goals Are Realistic

Ask yourself why you want to delve into accounting. Do you like working with numbers? An accountant’s world involves calculating, preparing budgets, managing revenue and expense accounts, auditing books, preparing and presenting important financial reports, and analyzing and evaluating financial statements and operations to ensure businesses run smoothly. If you enjoy math and can perform basic math functions, you can succeed in accounting.

It’s important to identify where you’d like this road to take you. Is it for the challenge of problem and equation solving? Is it for better career advancement? Better pay? When job interviews come, be prepared to talk about why you picked accounting — especially if it diverges from your prior career field.

Decide Your Direction 

Accounting can take shape in many different ways. Do you want to be a staff accountant for a company? Are you ambitious and want to work for one of the Big Four firms? Do you want to enter the public or private sector? Or do you want to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)? 

Also consider what your specialty might be. Just as a medical student needs to decide between becoming a general practitioner or a specialist, the same thinking applies to accounting careers. Is your interest in auditing? Bookkeeping? Financial accounting? Tax accounting? Forensic accounting? Management accounting? Nonprofit accounting? Internal or external financial reporting? Government accounting? The choices are seemingly endless.

Earn Your Degree in Accounting

A BA in Accounting is recommended for entry-level accounting positions — a must if you intend on moving up the ladder or earning additional certifications. Graduating with a degree will leave you with the knowledge of accounting fundamentals, such as the four Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or GAAP, plus coursework on auditing, statistics, economics, accounting information systems and more. 

Down the line, consider pursuing a Master’s Degree in Accounting, which can be helpful in qualifying for roles with higher responsibility and higher pay. Many employers also support continuing education, which can help balance a return back to school with the responsibilities of an accounting career.

Gain Experience With Employment

Be proactive while pursuing your degree and seek out accounting internships to better fortify your qualifications for entry-level accounting roles. By finding opportunities that offer relevant experience, and you get to be actively working in the field — that career change you dreamed of is actually happening! Not only does it offer opportunities to advance your career, but you also gain essential industry knowledge that can help gain the attention of other employers. Some initial accounting positions may include:

  • Bookkeeper
  • Accounting clerk
  • Staff accountant
  • Financial analyst

Earn an Accounting Certification

Pursuing a certification post-graduation is a surefire way to give your college degree a boost and stand out as you enter the job market. The most coveted certification is the CPA designation, which requires taking a rigorous, four-part exam that’s on par, difficulty wise, with the bar exam.

Some other accounting certifications include:

  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
  • Enrolled Agent (EA)

Facilitate an Accounting Career Change with AP Professionals

Accounting as a second career can open up opportunities you might never have thought possible before, such as above-average salaries (the median annual accountant’s pay is $70,500); industry job growth; and career advancement. The recruiters at AP Professionals can help you make the transition by matching you with the right company at any stage or phase of your newfound accounting career. 

If you’re planning on pursuing accounting, or you’re a recent graduate looking for job placement, we’d love to hear from you and work with you. Contact us today.