Accounting (in the US) or Accountancy (in the UK) has an undeserved reputation of being a boring field of study and a routine-filled career. But nowadays and well into the future – with the globalization of economies, commerce, and financial markets – the need for accounting services will continue to grow more and more. Whereas before the working environment of accountants was usually limited to the four walls of an office, if not a cubicle, now and in the future there will be more opportunities for accounting jobs that are self-managed, open-walled, even multi-national.
The collapse of big financial corporations and conglomerates also opened the door to more stringent controls and with it, more demand for people to oversee these controls. So there is no question about whether or not accounting is an interesting, challenging option for a course of study or choice of career. The question is, simply, how to become an accountant.
Accounting, simply put, is finding out, recording and reporting financial data. These data will be used by business, financial, or government authorities to make important decisions about the viability, usefulness and distribution of resources. The application of these data could range from accounting, auditing, bookkeeping, tax, litigation support, and other financial advisory purposes
So how does one go about becoming an accountant?
You have to possess certain qualities to become a good accountant, so first, assess yourself. An accountant needs to be meticulous with details, methodical, organized, analytical. He or she does not necessarily have to be brilliant at math. However, an inclination to solving problems and seeing everything neatly lined up is essential. Do you possess these qualities?
Training. For the most part, the accounting profession is governed by similar procedures across the globe. Basic, of course, is a degree. You need solid education. In some countries you can get by without a degree so long as you pass the certification or accreditation exams, but nothing beats a diploma for better preparedness and resumé boosting. Schooling will also give you added advantages such as early introduction and entry into accounting organizations for students that will give you training and visibility to mentor-figures in the field. College instructors will give you invaluable advice on career direction.
Additionally, you would also need to build up your capacity for using computer operations and applications, oral and written communication, problem-solving, analysis, interpersonal relations, management, consultancy.
After acquiring a degree, and depending on where you are in the world, you need to be chartered, certified, licensed, accredited, or registered as an accountant. This simply means that you have the legal authority to practice the accounting or accountancy profession in an official capacity. Each country has a governing body that monitors the certification of accountants. Therefore, the level of preparation and qualification you need will depend on where you want to practice.
Familiarize yourself with the accreditation bodies, the requirements and application procedures for accreditation. There usually are review courses available for some exams and you might consider doing those, as well.
Membership in accounting organizations is also usually required for a practicing professional. So is keeping abreast of new laws or regulations in the financial world, usually done through conventions, conferences, trainings, seminars, and other professional fora under the auspices of these accounting organizations.
Networking with other professionals is a must, but do not limit yourself to those in the financial sector. All businesses and professions need accountants so do not discriminate with your contacts.
Cast your net wide: explore opportunities outside your comfort zone. Accounting uses principles and practices that are generally accepted all over the world, therefore the profession and skills are transferable worldwide. With a good educational background, hands-on experience, and the willingness and determination to study and acquire whatever knowledge and skills is lacking in your training, there is little that should stop you from going beyond your normal borders.
Job opportunities for accountants are many and the opportunities are endless. Virtually all businesses, from home-based to global corporations, need accountants. The financial sector is obviously and almost entirely made up of accountants. Government, non-government, even non-profits need accountants.
We’ve heard it said that in this world only two things are sure: taxes and death. Taxes are, of course, covered by accountants. Moreover, in many countries, especially the affluent ones, death and dying involve accountants, as well. There is no mystery about how to become an accountant. However, there is every opportunity for interesting career prospects.