Hi GC –
Just getting started in my accounting career (24 years old) and I am looking for some advice. I graduated with my BS in Business Administration (Accounting) in 2012 and my MAcc (Audit/Financial Accounting) in 2013. I also got my CPA in 2013. Spent one year at a Big4 firm, but left because my wife and I were not happy in the city we lived in (I wasn’t in love with audit, either – but that wasn’t my primary reason for leaving).
We moved to a medium sized town that we are much happier in, and I accepted an accounting position for a small engineering firm (Less than 5 people). I am the only accountant there, and they had previously outsourced all their bookkeeping and accounting to a local firm. The firm is made up three small business that offer consulting services and wholesale machines and systems to manufacturers. Non public and doesn’t report to a parent or anything, but the company wanted to have an accountant on staff who could do their bookkeeping, improve their internal controls and develop processes for accounting, keep track of sales taxes in various jurisdictions, and help get the financial statements cleaned up so they could get a bank loan. Additionally, they want the accountant to be in charge of all the A/R and A/P, and take on some operations roles such as purchasing, following up on sales calls for the engineers, and help with the cost accounting of projects. Lastly, the accounting firm that did the bookkeeping is currently conducting monthly reviews of the financial statements to ensure that everything looks OK going forward.
So to me, this job is somewhat a jack-of-all-trades position, which I know is common with small businesses because of low headcounts. The pay is comparable to what I made in public as a staff (~50k), which is decent for my region just a year or so out of college. I have almost been here for half a year cleaning up the books and reports, getting sales taxes sorted out, and helping them implement new processes for their business; including getting their books into accrual accounting. It's been great to have a normal work schedule, too — 8 hour days with minimal overtime. So far, it has been enjoyable to me.
My question is this – will this job still give me appropriate accounting experience? I just want to make sure that if I ever leave, I can still be viable for senior accounting or accounting manager roles. I want to have a house and kids one day, and I am doubtful 50k will cut it to support my family. I know I cut my growth leaving Big4 so early, but I don’t need to be a CFO or Controller – I would be happy making a comfortable living and having a life, too. And it doesn’t have to be immediately – I just want to know that I will still have options down the road.
Thanks for taking the time to read – appreciate any feedback or advice you might have!