Accounting is an ever-popular college major. There are many reasons to get a degree in accounting. This career path offers growing opportunities, evolving job assignments, high salaries and high respect, especially for those advancing into high-level roles. Given all the advantages of majoring in accounting, getting a degree is worth the time, money and effort.
Due to faster than average job growth, accounting jobs are plentiful today. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment opportunities to rise 10 percent over a decade, compared to the only seven percent job growth expected for all occupations. The accounting field had to add nearly 140,000 new jobs in just 10 years. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) lists accounting as the second most in-demand major for 2018, with 60.6 percent of employers surveyed stating that they intend to hire candidates with an undergraduate accounting degree.
However, even in a more challenging economic climate, job opportunities for accountants are likely to remain strong. US News & World Report has ranked accounting among the top degrees guaranteeing the best job offers and college majors for finding full-time employment in recent years. In both good and bad financial times, individuals need help preparing tax forms, companies have to submit the reports required by law and businesses are constantly looking for ways to become more profitable. While students of other college majors may depend on hiring trends, accounting students have relatively stable job prospects.
As technology develops, those who are unfamiliar with the scope of accountants’ work may think that tax preparation software or robots could eventually replace accountants and auditors. However, accountants learn the theories and concepts of financial reporting as well as the technical skills needed to create financial reports. They apply this knowledge in ways that go beyond just calculating the numbers, such as analyzing and interpreting financial data to suggest ways to improve business operations and profitability, achieve financial goals, and eliminate wasted resources. The idea of skilled accountants being replaced by machines and software applications is a myth .
Even in the accounting and bookkeeping industry, the job prospects for those without a college degree are not very positive. Bookkeeping and accounting clerks, who typically have associate degrees or don’t have college degrees, experience reduced job opportunities.
Accountants earn well above the average salary for all occupations. As they gain the experience needed to move into senior-level roles, the income potential of accountants increases considerably. Those with a wealth of experience, advanced degrees and professional certifications are looking for, in particular, can achieve salaries close to six figures.
Public accountants and companies can benefit from obtaining a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. Generally, being a CPA raises your salary by 10 to 15 percent, the AICPA reports.
An undergraduate degree is sufficient to meet the degree requirements to become a CPA, but in most of the US, you will need an additional year of college study at either the undergraduate or postgraduate level to earn this credential.
Accountants can be prestigious careers, especially when you work for one of the “Big 4” public accounting firms or as corporate accountants for a well-known firm. Other factors, such as earning a master’s degree or having credentials such as a CPA license, can add to the distinction of being an accountant. The reputation that the career path has for job stability and lucrative earning potential only adds to the respect that accountants can receive, especially those in senior-level positions.
The CPA is perhaps the best known accounting credential, but other on-demand certifications include the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA) and Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)