Accounting is a data-driven profession that plays a key role in every organization
Accounting helps keep businesses and organizations at peak operational efficiency — from corporate giants to small business, government, and not-for-profits. Without financial accountability, there is no revenue stream. Once the money dries up, so does the dream. The work of accountants helps keep the dream alive.
Accounting professionals are at the forefront of societal and institutional change. This change will require an enhanced skill set and understanding of proven best practices, along with a shift in methodology to address expectations that will define the accounting field going forward. Keep reading to determine the accounting career path that’s right for you.
Why pursue a career in accounting?
Impressive earning potential
The median annual wage for accountants and auditors was $71,550 in May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Personal satisfaction and community impact
The accounting profession appeals to upwardly mobile professionals who are looking for career stability, job satisfaction, and opportunities for growth in a leadership position.
Diverse career opportunities
Professionals with accounting degrees are in demand and work across a variety of industries, providing services that appeal to markets across multiple sectors that include finance, insurance, management, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and government.
According to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, nearly three-fourths of Certified public accountants (CPAs) plan to retire in 2020, which means that license holders are increasingly in demand. A master’s in accounting can prepare you to practice in a recession-resistant industry at the highest level.
Return on your investment
Due to the high demand for CPAs and higher-than-average starting salaries, an investment in an accounting degree is likely to lead to increased career opportunities.
Industry trends in accounting
Here’s a quick look at trends in this industry according to Burning Glass Technologies:
Compliance functions will soon require a higher rate of automation. This will empower accounting professionals to streamline tasks like data entry and to focus on job aspects that can’t be handled through artificial intelligence, such as financial consulting and other tasks that require problem solving, strategic thought, and human intuition.
The rise in technology and cloud-based accounting software lowers the risk of inputting errors and gives clients access to financial data from anywhere. As more firms work remotely to support businesses with financial data in real time, data security will be paramount.
With access to the latest digital tools, accounting professionals are expanding their advisory services. Leaders in the profession are transitioning from short-term bookkeeping and compliance work to becoming forward-thinking consultants who equip clients with strategic, in-depth insights.
Specialized accounting professionals are in high demand and low supply. It’s often difficult for employers to fill accounting roles with the right candidates — specifically, those with specialized skills and advanced education. Research indicates that filling some positions can take up to two months or more.
No matter what area of accounting you may be interested in, new technology is being implemented by employers across industries and will continue to shape the future of the profession. Those willing to adapt will not only stay relevant in the accounting field, but will also maintain the skill set needed to remain highly sought after by employers.
Areas of opportunity in accounting
Popular career areas of accounting include:
Financial analysis and consulting
Accounting information systems
What are the different types of accounting jobs?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are nearly 1.4 million people currently working in the accounting and auditing field and an additional 61,700 expected to join them between 2019 and 2029. Choosing the right career specialty can set you apart and place you on a path toward career stability and longevity.
The accounting field provides opportunities to get in at the ground level and pursue a variety of career paths that can lead to management and analyst opportunities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for entry-level careers in the accounting field are identified as follows:
Financial advisors and consultants $87,850
Top skills and digital tools for careers in accounting
The future of accounting will favor those who are able to combine business insight with emerging technology, software, and data application. Below is an overview of the diverse skill set that can help you thrive in the workplace and stay ahead of the competition.
Fastest-growing accounting skills
In the accounting industry, 50% of the fastest-growing skill needs require technological competence. Future trends in accounting dictate that data analysis, problem solving, and knowledge of software applications will all be necessary to manage the continued needs of the industry, as well as to keep pace with emerging technologies.
Here are the top 10 skills that will see the highest projected growth in the accounting industry:
Over the next five years, the industry will see even more impact from technology and the hybridization of skills. In the future, experts expect to see the following skills featured in more job postings:
The accounting industry still has a heavy focus on Microsoft Excel. However, as technology and coding skills become more of a necessity in a digitally focused world, other programming languages and tools will become part of the standard toolkit for accountants, including:
Count your opportunities. Calculate your return.
Accounting careers are among the most sought after in any industry. With the right skills and expertise, accounting professionals can earn lucrative salaries and work in diverse areas of business.
As the field continues to grow and the technology behind accounting strengthens, we’re here to provide pathways that can connect motivated individuals like you with educators and employers.