Maybe you’ve decided it’s time to switch to a new career. Or maybe you just need to upgrade within your current company or industry. Either way, you’re looking to make a move that will provide you with opportunities to advance and enough potential to keep you satisfied.
A career switch to accounting might be the best path for you professionally and personally. And here’s why:
The job market is strong
All organizations — from government agencies and nonprofits to small businesses and multinational corporations — need accountants. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts that the number of accountants will grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026. And unemployment rates for accountants are significantly lower than the overall unemployment rates. In other words, there are plenty of jobs out there for those bold enough to pull the trigger on a career switch to accounting.
Due to evolving regulations and tax laws in the U.S. and around the world, the global economy is growing more complex. Accountants, and those with deep accounting skills and knowledge, are essential to helping organizations of all types successfully navigate these burgeoning financial intricacies.
The pay is solid
Along with higher demand, a career switch to accounting also offers strong compensation and benefits. According to the BLS, the median pay for accountants is nearly $70,000 per year, but more qualified accountants can make significantly more. The average forensic accountant or accounting manager earns about $90,000 per year, for example. Many accountants, especially those with CPAs and advanced degrees, can earn six-figure salaries–sometimes after just a few years of work experience.
The career paths are varied
Strong employment and high pay are great, but they’re not the best things about a career switch to accounting.
If you think of accountants as people who spend their days bent over adding machines or manipulating spreadsheets, it’s time for an update. While crunching the numbers and analyzing financial data is an essential part of accounting, the profession also requires problem solving, creativity, and strong communication skills.
Accountants help organizations make better decisions — and help society function more effectively. Accountants provide fiscal insight, which in turn helps companies know when to launch new products, move into new markets, or avoid money-losing ventures.
Accountants are also the guardians of financial accuracy across the economy. They help protect against fraud, measure the impact of corporate environmental initiatives, and find ways to reduce wasteful spending.
If you decide to further your education in your career switch to accounting, a graduate accounting degree prepares you for many paths. Some accountants become top corporate executives, including chief financial officers and even CEOs. Others work in nonprofits or for government agencies, helping an organization fulfill an important societal mission.
And it’s not just accounting jobs. A graduate accounting degree is great preparation for jobs in finance, business forecasting, business analytics, and more. That’s because accounting provides the financial, analytical, and problem-solving skills essential in the 21st century economy.
You can work with purpose
Many accountants find fulfilling careers doing auditing, tax, or consulting work for public accounting firms–jobs that require plenty of teamwork and frequently bring opportunities for travel. And accountants with an entrepreneurial bent often find success starting their own firms or working in a startup.
Maybe the best thing about a career switch to accounting is that your previous work experiences, in whatever fields they may be, will help you develop your new accounting role. If you were a teacher, for example, you’ll still have opportunities to explain accounting concepts to people you work with as an accountant. Or if you’ve spent a few years working the phone and meeting prospects in a sales role, an accounting degree could help you forecast sales for the entire company — and even set goals for your former colleagues. In fact, combining accounting knowledge with a background in another field can make you more qualified and competitive for some job opportunities.
High school teacher and online MAC student Mark Loyd transferred from the classroom to the boardroom, starting a new career at PwC in Charlotte.
How to prepare for a career switch to accounting
What does it take to switch into accounting? The right kind of education, of course. Good news: even if you don’t have a degree in business or accounting, you can leap into a new career in accounting in as little as one year.
Many Master of Accounting (MAC) programs are open to people with a wide variety of undergraduate degrees, from finance to English literature. And online degrees allow students to continue to work while taking classes.
Once you’ve completed your degree, top MAC programs will also provide job placement support and access to a robust professional network with other alumni across the country. And MAC graduates are prepared for the CPA exam, which provides a unique, in-demand professional credential that boosts your earning potential.
Want some helpful advice from our experts?
Download our guide, “The Career Switcher’s Checklist”, for some great tips and suggestions.
What’s your next career move? Consider the #1-ranked online Master of Accounting degree from the University of North Carolina. With flexible schedules, evening courses delivered by world-class faculty, and a career services team dedicated to the needs of working professionals, the program can give your career the boost it needs.