Entering the workforce upon graduation from college can seem overwhelming. After four or more years of classroom study it is time to put all the knowledge gained to the test in the real world. For many, the struggle will not be proving that knowledge was gained, but rather getting the opportunity to prove that knowledge was gained. Luckily for accounting students, businesses often have a need for someone to watch the books, track income/expenses, and accurately report and file taxes.
According to USNews.com, as of January 2012 accountants are expected to be the hottest hires throughout the calendar year. On its list of 6 Careers to Watch in 2012, USNews.com ranked accounting as the number one, hottest hiring position in the U.S. for 2012. Upwards of 279,000 accounting positions are expected to be added to the economy by the end of the 2008-2018 decade. A Bachelor’s in Accounting is the minimum education requirement for many accounting positions.
One of the two most popular choices for recent college graduates is to go into the business field as a private accountant. This doesn’t mean working for an individual person; rather it means working for a corporation or business handling internal financial operations. The typical entry level position can be within a company’s controller’s department working on monthly reports or performing internal audits of business operations.
The other option that is popular among recent college graduates is to become a public accountant. Individuals working as public accountants often work for corporations, large and small, as well as large accounting firms handling businesses on a client-by-client basis. Public accountants can generally break into the field as Staff Accountants or Junior Auditors working on tasks such as forensic accounting, financial planning, and tax preparation.
According to Monster.com, public accounting positions are expected to make a rebound in 2012 after seeing high levels of layoffs during the recession. Public accounting firms are expected to lead the hiring trend as companies look to improve the quality of their staff.
Government and Non-profit
The federal government and its state counterparts in the U.S. are always in need of accountants just like their private sector counterparts. Accountants, Auditors, and Tax Examiners are needed by federal, state, and local governments to analyze financial reports, record and review income and expenses, investigate and analyze agencies and programs in search of financial waste, and determine what businesses and citizens owe in taxes.
Non-profit accountants perform many of the same tasks as their counterparts in the for-profit and government world. Responsibilities can include preparing financial forecasts and analyzing income and expenses.
No two individuals earning a Bachelor’s in Accounting can expect to have similar career paths. There are a variety of paths that can be taken, each requiring different credentials. Those who test out the public accounting path will need to pass the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam in order to advance their career, and usually requires more than a Bachelor’s degree to take the exam. Private accounting positions may not require a CPA license to experience success in the field.
For some accounting graduates, there is the option of becoming their own boss. A small percentage of individuals will open their own small accounting business to consult individuals, families, and small businesses. A U.S. News article recently cited data showing that 8% of accountants are currently self-employed.