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How to become an accountant

Accounting is a prominent career path. Accountants are essential to the success of any company, as they offer vital support in financial activities. They operate in-house or with an accounting firm. Furthermore, nearly everyone requires the help of an accountant at some stage in their lifetime, for instance, to lodge a tax return. If you want to be an accountant, you've made the right career decision.

As per the BLS, the job market prospects for accountants are promising, as the expected rise is higher than the standard rate, with an 4% rise in job openings predicted between 2014 - 2024. Knowing how to be an accountant will have a reliable income in a profession that is in demand. We've assembled a rundown of the stages to become an accountant, what to consider as an accounting major.

Stages on how to become an Accountant

Image for part: Stages on how to become an Accountant

Many students' path to becoming accountants starts with academic work at a university, and also, there are a few more approaches to finish the journey. Continue reading for a thorough explanation of how to become an accountant.

Stage 1: Register in a college degree course

You will have to get a Bachelor's degree in accounting which is the initial phase in becoming an accountant. The accounting degree program will include calculus courses and studying tax law. You may also take business classes like these:

  • International finance
  • Personal and business tax
  • Ethics
  • Financial recordkeeping
  • Management
  • Auditing
  • Statistics

Finally, you'll want to refine your interpersonal skills because they'll be critical to building cordial relations with the people and management staff that will depend on your experience. Students that succeed in accounting courses strive to be coordinated, logical, and disciplined and stand out in math. A bachelor's degree is the initial stage in planning to qualify for the CPA test or pursue an entry-level job.

Before moving on:

If you are on your job hunt process and don't know how to write a resume for an accountant job position, here is a complete guide on how to write an accountant resume.

Stage 2: Pick a career track

Finding a career choice is perhaps the next stage in being an accountant. You may opt to practice in a specific accounting field, such as administrative accounting, financial or tax accounting. Alternatively, you may pursue becoming a Certified Public Accountant or earning your MBA, all of which need extra hours and continued education. Accountants offer a variety of valuable resources to their customers. Here are a couple of instances;

  • Accounting
  • Tax record monitoring
  • Submitting tax forms
  • Advising on the right places to invest for business or personal investments

The majority of accountants operate in individual offices or as members of a management group. Some work with government departments at the city, national, and federal levels. From year to year, accountants may move from one business to another to evaluate financial reports and offer impartial advice to clients locally or in a specific area.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average income for accountants in 2017 was $69,350. Those in the banking and insurance industries made the most money, with an average income of $71,760, whereas public accountants made the least, with an average wage of $65,180.

Stage 3: Take an internship in accounting

Serving at a paid or unpaid internship will offer a lot of exposure that will result in better pay and more career openings after graduating from college. A work experience can also contribute to a permanent job, so it's critical to be respectful, develop your connection, and put in your maximum performance each day.

Stage 4: Finish your accounting degree

Obtaining your accounting degree and any subsequent classwork is the next stage towards a career in accounting. Remember that some colleges need a minimum GPA if you wish to obtain an advanced education.

Stage 5: Get an entry-level accounting job 

You will be ready to pursue and secure an entry-level job in the accounting profession after you've completed your education. During your initial accounting work, you might also receive the additional credit points necessary to qualify for the CPA test.

Stage 6: Receive an accountant certification

You can opt to receive one of a variety of advanced certificates based on the specialization area you decide. Acquiring accreditations in addition to your degree will boost your viability and technical validity. Here is a list of certifications to become an accountant;

  1. Certified Public Accountants or CPAs have to complete an examination and have extensive experience of the accounting profession. These practitioners have to help customers in front of the Internal Revenue Service and report information with the Stock and Exchange Commission.
  2. Auditors with a minimum of 5 years of experience in the data management area will sit for the ISACA exam, previously regarded as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, to become a Certified Information Systems Accountant.
  3. Certified Management Accountants should obtain two years of management accounting training and complete an exam conducted by the Institute of Management Accountants.
  4. Certified Internal Internal Auditors must complete a four-part examination held by the Institute of Internal Auditors and get at least two years of auditing expertise.

All of these credentials involve a four-year accounting degree as a requirement.

Accounting courses and entry prerequisites

Selecting an approved institution is critical to ensuring that the degree has importance following graduation. Experienced professors are crucial things to remember if you want to succeed in your profession after receiving your degree. Accounting qualification standards can differ based on the specialty area you select;

  • Management - Statistics, finance, management, marketing, law, and ethics
  • Accounting - Business and personal taxation, investments, cost accounting
  • CPA Preparatory - International finance, information systems, operations management, and other necessary academic work

Apprenticeships can be accessible and may also offer relevant training that reduces the time it takes to gain further accreditations following graduation. In several contexts, candidates must submit 120-125 college credits to earn a BS in accounting. Accounting degree criteria can differ based on the type of course and specialization selected.

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Accounting FAQ

Q1. How much time does it require to become a Certified Accountant?

Answer: The total time to earn your degree will rely on many indicators, like how many college credits you finished and the course of studies you plan to pursue. A bachelor's degree in accounting usually requires four years of education. There is extra academic work necessary for students seeking CPA credentials, and the average time to finish could be longer. But some universities have dual programs that allow you to pursue your CPA specifications while completing your four-year degree course. If you want to obtain your MBA or Master of Accountancy, you'll have to schedule extra time for a degree program and, if necessary, entrance tests.

Q2. How much does an accountant earn?

Answer: Accountants in Australia receive an annual wage of around $89,646. The lowest annual salary is under $80,000, while the highest average income is up to $100,000. Accounting may not be one of the highest-paying sectors, but it sure rewards adequately. It is a well-paid occupation. The labor market is increasing with a 16% rise in accountant positions between 2015 - 2020.

Q3. What qualifications do you require to be an accountant?

Answer: Accountants have varied positions, so they need a lot of expertise to manage everyday responsibilities.

  • Communication skills

If you intend to have a job in accounting, you must have excellent interpersonal skills. You have to collaborate with co-workers, third parties, and, in some contexts, government officials.

  • Presentation skills

If you want to be an accountant, a decent way to begin your studies is by learning how to use Microsoft Excel. Most accounting positions enable you to use either spreadsheet or financial analytics software. MS Excel can present you with a framework for knowing the kinds of formulas, knowledge, and data connecting you will find in your job. Also, you have to discuss quarterly reports or conclusions with supervisors. You can benefit from introducing yourself with a variety of presentation techniques, like Powerpoint.

  • Problem-solving skills

An accountant has to examine a case or a sequence of figures to reach a quantifiable decision. When you're in your new job and applying for a promotion, utilize your accounting expertise to address the company's challenges. It reflects how you can handle issues which increases the possibility to get that promotion.

  • Organizational skills

Strong organizational abilities would be very beneficial to you throughout your accounting profession. You should be able to manage overlapping requirements on your scarce resources while still responding to dynamic requests on time. 

  • Discretion

When you become an accountant, you will be working with a lot of classified info. The accountants have to manage confidential details to some extent. Your company will entrust you with sensitive data, and you have to keep the data secure at all times.

  • Work Ethics

Discretion applies to ethical standards. Auditors cannot deliberately violate the rule, even though their employer instructs them to do so. As an accountant, your allegiance is to humanity, not to your business. Ethically conducting your work is the main priority when you train to be an accountant.

  • Teamwork

Accountants tend to serve as part of a group in most medium-large corporations. It is imperative that you have a great repo with your colleagues and do not generate any problems. It will help you remain in any position for a long time.

Q4. Which degree do you require to become an Accountant in Australia?

Answer: The three professional organizations govern the accounting sector in Australia;

  •  Charted Accountants Institute of Australia 
  •  Institute of Public Accountants 
  •  CPA Australia

A bachelor of accounting or bachelor of business is mandatory for admission to the CPA or ICAA. A diploma in accounting is necessary to qualify for the IPA. Even so, an accounting degree is not essential to get a job. You have to get authorized by one of the above entities to generate financial results, especially those checked externally.

Q5. What are the initial stages for becoming an accountant?

Answer: Firstly, get acquainted with the sector and develop a sense of what you have to do in the job. If you are not able to receive a bachelor's degree, here are some options;

  • Certificate IV in Accounting

Certificate IV in Accounting can assist you in applying simple accounting rules to your job. Organizing high-level estimates, accounting audits, and tracking ledgers are among them. You can gain knowledge on how to execute activities relevant to company transaction reports and understanding transferrable skills. And for instance, managing a payroll system and writing a variety of business papers. This certification will equip you for a position as a Bookkeeper or Accounting Support Officer.

  • Certificate IV in Bookkeeping

The Certificate IV in Bookkeeping provides you with a significant information background in financial accounting and simple company finances. It's an outstanding prerequisite for launching your small firm and entering into the accounting industry. Classes include payroll, accounting processes, writing financial accounts, detailed analyses, and following best practices for bookkeeping policies. 

  • Diploma of Accounting

The Diploma in Accounting is quite comprehensive than Certificate IV-level programs and can provide you with specialized training. You can know how to include market and financial progress details, compile tax records, plan strategies, and budget projections. 

It is an excellent first stage into a successful accounting major. And it will provide you with the necessary skills to work as an Assistant Accountant or in a management role in the financial sector.

Q6. How to become a global accountant?

Answer:  Deciding to be a global accountant is one of the right decisions you can consider in your whole life. Becoming a worldwide accountant provides you with an excellent opportunity to extend your possibilities and earn a higher salary. The title is therefore well regarded and valuable. Here are all the steps you can take to be a global auditor.

  1. The first approach towards becoming a worldwide accountant is to get a bachelor's degree at a reputable institute. When selecting elective courses, it is critical to concentrate on subjects that introduce you to global accounting. It is also better that you enroll in foreign language courses in the first year of college. You can learn languages like French, Spanish, and Chinese. Few colleges provide students with the chance to study overseas for a semester or an entire year. It can be helpful to your career chances as an international accountant.
  2. You can pursue a degree in global accounting. A graduate course is a turning point to obtaining applicable accreditations and decent careers. Many universities in the United States provide a master's in accounting with a focus on worldwide accounting. Most European institutions deliver foreign accounting academic courses. Most individuals want to study overseas to gain foreign experience. You'll hear from widely agreed accounting rules, how to view overseas financial information and the cultural variations in accounting practices around the world. Such subjects are available in the section on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
  3. When completing your master's degree, you will have to obtain some job experience. You must gain quite enough job experience as possible and try to advance your job prospects. You can start as paid or unpaid intern, or a placement employee is an option. You must select an organization with a worldwide reach to assist you in obtaining some foreign accounting experience.
  4. To be recognized as an international accountant, you must first receive the requisite credential. The Certified Public Accountant is the first credential you can obtain. To achieve this credential, you must complete the Standard CPA exam. The American Institution of CPA administers the test. After earning your CPA, you may qualify to be a Certified International Financial Accountant or a Chartered Global Management Accountant. The Institute of Accredited Business Consultants (ICBC) offers CIFA certification, for which you have to complete the test. To be considered for the test, you should have two years of industry experience as an accountant. The CGMA test is crucial for the GCMA certification. The test evaluates your comprehension of the areas of expertise eligible to obtain management accounting concepts in real-world business settings.

Many with a passion for international finance may discover a rewarding profession as foreign accountants. This profession is in high demand because more businesses continue to explore foreign economies. To become a worldwide accountant, you merely have to attend a decent education, acquire some job experience, and earn the required credential.

Q7. What are the top online universities for pursuing accounting programs?

Answer:  Here is a list of top online universities for accounting programs;

  • Trine university's bachelor's degree in accounting delivers realistic, hands-on training in financial and cost accounting. Students study how to use Quickbooks, one of the most common accounting software. Trine can also acknowledge up to 90 credit points from previous education, jobs, or military service.
  • Colorado State university's online accounting curriculum establishes problem-solving capabilities to solve existing accounting challenges such as data processing, market analytics, and automation. A thesis, a final apprenticeship, and additional specializations are also part of the curriculum.
  • The University of Massachusetts-Amherst BBA in accounting teaches students basic management knowledge as well as intensive accounting research. Micro and macroeconomics, metrics, business finance, management principles, and advertising are present in the curriculum.
  • The Maryville University of Saint Louis concentrates on a new paradigm to accounting by assisting students in developing broadly relevant knowledge. Students at Maryville learn economics, advertising, and sales to train them for multidisciplinary accounting fields. Maryville's simplified college degree in accounting enables students to complete their degree in 2.5 years while maintaining their current lifestyle.
  • University of Minnesota-Crookston graduate degree in accounting provides students with a career-focused course and many advanced resources to train them for jobs. The taxation degree program intends to equip students for tax planning for individuals, farmlands, enterprises, trusts, and properties.

Q8. What are the major accounting courses?

Answer:  Programs can deliver a variety of electives or require a more static structure. Before graduation, some courses, especially those with a more business emphasis, need students to finish a thesis work. The capstone concentrates on corporate strategy, a significant practicum. Other common prerequisites are: 

  1. Federal Income Tax - This program addresses formal and fundamental tax rules and their relation to individuals and companies. Students obtain a thorough understanding of the laws governing income taxes, allowing them to deal with individual customers. The curriculum also includes the taxation of corporations and partnerships.
  2. Cost Accounting -  an advanced financial planning subject, involves learning how to estimate costs and results of particular projects. The course emphasizes capital projects offers techniques and methods, such as worksheet templates, for planning leading investments and reviewing outcomes.
  3. Corporate Finance -  teaches accounting students to help corporate entities in their professional jobs by examining budgets, financial reporting preparation, and the financial industry. The curriculum also covers administrative-accounting concepts like budgeting.
  4. Economics  - Accounting practitioners can better place their jobs if they grasp macro and microeconomics. Subjects in economic strategy, global business, antitrust policy, and financial market are often necessary for accounting courses.
  5. Business Law  - This course is mandatory in the accounting curriculum that focuses on business and helps with regulatory problems that exist in the company. Contracts, land law, and litigation tactics are all present. Some corporate law classes often cover legal issues when they relate to corporate and the regulations.

Q9. What are the job opportunities available to accounting graduates?

Answer:  Accounting graduates are eligible for a wide variety of career prospects and high-income prospects. Accountants and auditors earned a total yearly income of $71,550 in 2019, as per the BLS, while private financial advisers received $87,850.

Many companies want top management with accounting backgrounds. According to the BLS, general and operations managers received an average total pay of $100,780 in 2019, and the chief executive officer's salary was $184,460.

Workplace bus transportation, the federal executive branch, inland navigation, capital investments, and associated operations are among the highest-paying sectors for accountants. Accounting majors involves the following careers opportunities;

  • Management Accountant produces comprehensive financial statements that examine the activities of their business. They analyze business expenses and work with financial managers to build investment, working capital, and property-keeping tactics. They can also make cost forecasts for future projects. Management accountants have a bachelor's degree, though some companies require a master's degree and CPAs qualification.
  • Public accountants determine financial information, file financial records, and counsel their clientele on tax policy matters. The corporations and government organizations employ them. They can also give financial guidance and make suggestions for changes. Many entry-level positions require a bachelor's degree for public accountants, but many businesses favor CPA qualifications and a master's certification.
  • Financial analysts are in charge of large-scale financial planning for their companies. They work with other administrators to develop, execute, and track strategies, administer budgets and oversee employees. They also manage investment operations, keep up with industry trends, and review reports. Financial professionals have a bachelor's degree and many years of work experience. Few employers require a master's degree.
  • Management consultants are usually outside specialists employed to work with client companies. They do an in-depth analysis of business operations. They evaluate financial reports, organizational structure, and processes to provide feedback for change. The majority of management analysts start with a bachelor's degree, while hiring managers may expect a master's degree, such as an MBA.
  • Personal financial planners aid customers in reinforcing and preparing their financial futures. They examine financial documents and assist in setting targets for education, loan completion, retirement, and estate planning. They can assist clients in interpreting proper accounting principles, guiding investing practices, and obtaining sufficient insurance. The majority of personal financial consultants have a bachelor's degree.

Q10. What are the top accounting master's programs?

Answer:  A master's degree in accounting hones fundamental expertise in data collection, analysis, and documentation. The course also teaches economic decision-making, proactive problem-solving, and corporate law. Furthermore, several accounting university courses introduce students to emerging advances in the industry, like new regulations, technologies, and latest developments. Here is a list of top accounting master's programs;

  • The Stern School of Business, New York University provides a 30-credit master's degree in accounting to finish it in a year. Students of this course are eligible for the CPA exam, public and private accounting positions, and doctoral degrees in accounting, economics, and business management.
  • The Wharton School of Business has an MBA degree with a specialization in accounting. The course teaches students how to interpret accounting data and how to assess the validity of the report. Accounting majors require to complete at most 19 credits to graduate. The school's versatile course encourages students to attend the classes necessary to qualify for the CPA test, which could entail more than 19 credits.
  • The 30-credit master of accounting course at the University of Southern California aims to enhance knowledge in financial studies, evaluation, and monitoring, with options for learners to relate the concept to real-world situations. Students confront prevalent moral and professional problems that accountants can encounter in various industries. The course equips students for careers in finance and business banking, auditing, consultancy, and assurance services.
  • For applicants with bachelor's degrees in management, finance, or accounting, Rochester's Simon Business University provides a master's degree in accounting. The program entitles students to take the CPA test in New York State. Students collaborate with career counselors to create curricula that are relevant to their interests and aspirations. Students interested in obtaining hands-on experience may participate in the course's internship track.
  • Northwestern University course provides professional experience in financial statement preparation and the construction of legal and tax systems for mergers and acquisitions. It also enables degree candidates to pursue a field study or academic research in an area of specialization of their choice.

Q11. How can I write an accountant cover letter?

Answer: Don't worry we have a resource on how to write a cover letter for an accountant position which includes cover letter tips, cover letter examples and cover letter template.

Check out these comprehensive guides on how to write an effective resume and how to write a cover letter.

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