Accounting was not the career I envisioned for myself when my first grade teacher asked me what I wanted to be “when I grow up”. In fact, I didn’t seriously consider accounting until I completed my first internship in Internal Audit. Since then, I’ve noticed accounting is hard. Very hard. So, before you decide accounting is what you want to study in college, let’s discuss why many people find accounting challenging.
What is Accounting?
Accounting is the recording of financial transactions along with storing, sorting, retrieving, summarizing, and presenting the results in various reports and analyses. Accounting is also a field of study and profession dedicated to carrying out those tasks (Accoutingcoach).
Why is Accounting Hard?
There are many reasons accounting is hard but I focused on the three I found most challenging.
It Involves A Lot Of Numbers
Most if not all accounting courses in college are quantitative courses. Therefore, most if not all careers in accounting require the accountant to be comfortable working with numbers. While a high level of complex mathematical concepts is not required, accounting students must have knowledge about a wealth of formulas. This is because various transactions require different treatment in different situations. Accounting students must know what formula is appropriate for specific transactions. Accounting also requires analytical skills that is very useful when working with large sets of data and understanding the effect each transaction has on the business.
Large Volume of Information
When you ask the average person what they think accounting is you get one of two answers. First, it’s recording transactions and the second is someone who does your taxes. Well, that’s just bookkeeping and personal taxation. Accounting is much much more than that.
As an accounting student and professional you’ll be required to be familiar with regulations surrounding accounting and finance. This includes understanding how certain transactions should be treated, reported and audited. Not just for publicly traded companies but government and non-profit entities too. To put it in context, look at the financial statements of your favorite company to invest in. Accountants must know the rules around each line item on the financial report and all the disclosures that come with them. Additionally, accounting students not only need to know all this information for U.S. companies, in some instances, they must also know them for international companies operating in the U.S.
You Need 150 Credits For The CPA Exams
While not all accountants are Certified Public Accountants (CPA), all CPAs are accountants. The CPA is a professional designation that accounting majors may pursue after graduating from a 4 year college. There is a glaring discrepancy however between the eligibility to become a CPA and a degree from a 4 year college. To become a CPA in certain states you need 150 academic credits while the standard 4 year degree only requires 120 credits. Therefore, students who want to obtain their CPA will have to either pursue a Master’s degree or additional courses in undergrad.
What Are The Benefits Of Accounting?
Although it’s hard, accounting can be a very fulfilling career. In fact, there are some really good benefits to pursuing a career in this field.
Variety Of Career Paths
One of the biggest advantages to studying accounting are the many different career paths an accounting major can pursue. For example:
- Financial Manager
- Information Technology Auditor
- Forensic Accountant
- Tax Strategist
- Financial Analyst
There’s a reason accounting is “the language of business”. That’s because every business in every industry at some point in time must engage in accounting. Because of this, accounting has long been seen as a secure career. While not immune to economic downturns, the Bureau of Labor & Statistics estimates that jobs in accounting will grow by 6% between 2021-31. Furthermore, the median pay of an accountant is $77,250. Well above the $54,132 national median income (BLS).
Looking for more career tips? Check out my previous blog 6 Career Tips For 2023
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