Any Accountants here?

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alex123711
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun May 20, 2018 5:01 am

Any Accountants here?

Post by alex123711 » Thu Jul 26, 2018 1:57 am

I am looking at a career change to accounting and just after some advice from some in the field, whether it would be worth doing a degree in accounting now? Or is it too late, and will it change a lot with automation etc? Also I don't really want to do tax, so wouldn't really want to get stuck in a tax firm, are there many other options out there in this case, if so how would I go about getting into other areas? I am also interested in combining accounting with IT somehow. Any suggestions or advice on what paths to take would be greatly appreciated.

jbranx
Posts: 264
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2017 6:57 pm

Re: Any Accountants here?

Post by jbranx » Thu Jul 26, 2018 2:11 am

There are a number of threads on the topic of accounting careers on here; hit the google search on the top right. Here's one from earlier this year:

viewtopic.php?t=238618

MikeG62
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Location: New Jersey

Re: Any Accountants here?

Post by MikeG62 » Thu Jul 26, 2018 6:36 am

alex123711 wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 1:57 am
I am looking at a career change to accounting and just after some advice from some in the field, whether it would be worth doing a degree in accounting now? Or is it too late, and will it change a lot with automation etc? Also I don't really want to do tax, so wouldn't really want to get stuck in a tax firm, are there many other options out there in this case, if so how would I go about getting into other areas? I am also interested in combining accounting with IT somehow. Any suggestions or advice on what paths to take would be greatly appreciated.
OP, I would say that most “accountants” are not “tax accountants”, but rather “financial accountants”. Also, accounting jobs that leverage IT are very common - people with an IT background would in fact be in high demand.

Not sure your age, but I’d say that most people entering the accounting profession do so as their first job out of college (does not mean you can’t do it differently though).

FWIW, I started my career in public accounting (back in the 1980’s). Spent over 8 years there, before transitioning to a corporate position. Eventually rose to be the Chief Accoutant for a NYSE public company (for a dozen years) and then SVP of Finance. Much of the time I spent was more in FP&A than traditional accounting. So lot’s of options if you are good.

I am knowledgeable about taxes, but am not a tax expert as I never practiced tax as a professional.
Real Knowledge Comes Only From Experience

carolinaman
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Location: North Carolina

Re: Any Accountants here?

Post by carolinaman » Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:26 am

I started my career in IT (I did not have a degree). After a few years, I went back to school and got a BS in Accounting. All the major accounting firms offered me entry level jobs. I was already established in IT and made almost twice the amount they were offering. I decided to continue in IT and pursue IT management. That worked very well for me. I became a Sr VP for a tech company and then became IT Director for a large local govt where I eventually retired.

I was able to use my financial training a lot as a senior manager which made me a better manager and gave me a competitive edge over many managers who struggled with finances.

IT experience and accounting experience complement one another well, whether it be in an IT management position or a finance position.

I believe the most attractive accounting jobs are the senior management type jobs such as a Finance Officer or practicing CPA. It will take years and you will have to pay your dues to get one of those positions.

BogleMelon
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Re: Any Accountants here?

Post by BogleMelon » Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:45 am

Cost accountant here. I was lucky to come to a US state where there is so many manufacturing firms, so I was able to continue my cost accounting career instead of starting over in a new career.

Pros:
- Not so many cost accountants are there, relatively high demand from the company
- Higher salary than financial accountants
- Working closely to senior management
- Fun to do, unlike financial accounting which I find it basically a boring "book keeping", with some exceptions though
- Cost accountant can do financial accounting, but usually not vise versa
- Have good amount of free time, from time to time, during the month
- Brain teasing sometimes

Cons:
- Limitation to only manufacturing firms.
- Hard to find specific school that teaches only cost accounting courses.
- Some days are so crazy and demanding
- Working closely with other departments such as sales and engineers can be frustrating due to the natural conflict of interest between departments. But the same thing can be said for any job I guess.
- Hard to take days off, comparing to financial accountants, due to being the only cost accountant (or 1 of 2) in the whole firm.

Overall, I find it reasonable career with decent salary (in 2 countries so far).

Good luck.
"One of the funny things about stock market, every time one is buying another is selling, and both think they are astute" - William Feather

MichCPA
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Re: Any Accountants here?

Post by MichCPA » Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:53 am

When it comes to automation, past improvements in efficiency have not reduced total employment that much. Cheaper cost of accounting information (higher supply) has led to more total work that gets done. If I am cynical, I could also say that allows the profession to impose more obnoxious rules, but I digress. I would agree with prior posters that you need to explore options outside of tax more thoroughly. The average person doesn't need their tax return prepared by a professional and the $500-$1000 minimum for CPA firms bear this out. Explore the requirements to become a CPA (5 years of school and 1 year of exams, YMMV depending on the state). I would not leave IT for a non-CPA required/preferred accounting job because the salary hit would be substantial. Yes, IT skills would be a plus.

41Fin
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Re: Any Accountants here?

Post by 41Fin » Thu Jul 26, 2018 8:00 am

If you already have a degree, I would look at a certificate program as it will give you what you need to sit for the CPA (if you choose).

At my previous job, the guy who knew accounting and the financial system was probably the only person on the floor who was irreplaceable and got paid as such. Of course he put the time in but if you know the system you will be in demand.

alex123711
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun May 20, 2018 5:01 am

Re: Any Accountants here?

Post by alex123711 » Thu Jul 26, 2018 9:49 pm

Thanks for the replies guys, I don't have a degree and have worked for the past 10 years in an unrelated role (military) I am part way through a degree and would be able to transfer most of my credits to either an accounting or CS degree by using them as a minor. I've always been good with numbers and interested in business and working out how much things cost, and how much businesses are making. I'm also interested in computer science

Jimbo125
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Re: Any Accountants here?

Post by Jimbo125 » Fri Jul 27, 2018 10:14 am

For every two CPA's retiring, there is one new graduate coming into the profession. There is currently a severe shortage of accounting candidates in Public Accounting.

Once you get two or three years experience, you can almost name your price.

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dm200
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Location: Washington DC area

Re: Any Accountants here?

Post by dm200 » Fri Jul 27, 2018 10:19 am

One type of (in my opinion) well compensated career is being a bank or credit union examiner - federal or state regulators.

Pacman
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Re: Any Accountants here?

Post by Pacman » Fri Jul 27, 2018 10:31 am

If you have the chops for math, I would actually recommend looking into getting an Accounting PHD. Because the job market is strong for CPAs, there is a huge shortage of accounting academics, and a result, starting salaries for accounting phds are well into the six figures.

alex123711
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun May 20, 2018 5:01 am

Re: Any Accountants here?

Post by alex123711 » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:33 pm

Jimbo125 wrote:
Fri Jul 27, 2018 10:14 am
For every two CPA's retiring, there is one new graduate coming into the profession. There is currently a severe shortage of accounting candidates in Public Accounting.

Once you get two or three years experience, you can almost name your price.
What is meant by public accounting?

clutchied
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Re: Any Accountants here?

Post by clutchied » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:40 pm

it's the path you take to become a CPA; usually it's audit and tax. Public accounting firms do all kinds of things though.

was in public for 6ish years and got my license. Now I'm at a private company as the controller. It's a sweet deal but public was rough. Long hours and not the best working conditions... but you gain a lot of experience quickly which is the idea.

ge1
Posts: 394
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Re: Any Accountants here?

Post by ge1 » Sat Nov 17, 2018 4:26 pm

I‘m the Controller of a public company. As others said, accounting (be it tax accounting, financial accounting or cost accounting) is a field with a lot of demand and I don‘t see that changing anytime soon. Your challenge will be to find an job in Accounting, as companies typically either hire people straight from school or people with several years of relevant experience. Nothing you can‘t overcome but you have to be aware of it.

The challenge in Accounting (as in every field) is that in order to be good and successful, you have to actually enjoy it. So for Financial Accounting, you have to actually enjoy doing a cash flow statement or consolidated financials; if that‘s not the case you are wasting your time. So my advice would be if you are serious about this, buy some textbooks and study the Accounting basics, you will quickly realize if that is something you enjoy doing or not.

alex123711
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun May 20, 2018 5:01 am

Re: Any Accountants here?

Post by alex123711 » Sat Nov 17, 2018 9:17 pm

Thanks for the clarification. You guys must be in the U.S? Here (Australia) Accounting seems to be in oversupply and low paid with huge numbers of students graduating each year due to it being on the international student immigration visa list, with many unable to find employment.

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Nestegg_User
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Re: Any Accountants here?

Post by Nestegg_User » Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:00 pm

MichCPA wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:53 am
When it comes to automation, past improvements in efficiency have not reduced total employment that much. Cheaper cost of accounting information (higher supply) has led to more total work that gets done. If I am cynical, I could also say that allows the profession to impose more obnoxious rules, but I digress. I would agree with prior posters that you need to explore options outside of tax more thoroughly. The average person doesn't need their tax return prepared by a professional and the $500-$1000 minimum for CPA firms bear this out. Explore the requirements to become a CPA (5 years of school and 1 year of exams, YMMV depending on the state). I would not leave IT for a non-CPA required/preferred accounting job because the salary hit would be substantial. Yes, IT skills would be a plus.

...and usually, at a minimum, 3 yrs working under a CPA

(and in many cases, it takes more than one attempt at the exam to pass all parts)


AFA accounting....the best jobs are either up the management ladder (supervisor, manager, asst controller, controller, VP, ...CFO; most won’t make it past manager ) or making partner in the big 3 (low probability)


{there’s a real difference between payroll/accounts payable (which some might consider as “accounting”, because they work in the accounting department) and financial accounting.... most of the international students that come to US don’t have the full accounting curriculum needed to be a true accountant. Also, in financial accounting one must be fully familiar with GAAP and often also international standards...and be able to translate between the various countries requirements when working for an international company.}

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nedsaid
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Re: Any Accountants here?

Post by nedsaid » Sun Nov 18, 2018 12:03 pm

The problem with accountants is that when times get tough companies elect to consolidate their finance and accounting functions. Software is getting better and many tasks are automated. It is a good career but has its drawbacks.
A fool and his money are good for business.

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