Author Topic: Accountants, actuaries and human resource managers, I need your help!  (Read 6719 times)

LizzyBee

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 65
I have been struggling with disliking my career since I started it. I was an elementary teacher and now I coach and train teachers. When I think about my dream job and what I genuinely love doing, it's teaching adults (that's a tiny portion of my current job), organizing, budgeting, and number-crunching. I've thought about going into human resources since that could be semi-related to what I currently do giving feedback to and training adults. I've been joking for years that I wish I would have gone to school for accounting. I've also thought being an actuary would be interesting.  But how would I know, I literally know no one in those fields, and because I got a degree in liberal arts (sociology and then teaching and then a masters in education) I have no idea if I even like that much math or am even good at it. In high school, I excelled and enjoyed math, but I didn't take a lot of advanced math classes.

Are you an actuary, an accountant or do you work in human resources? If so, what is your typical day like? What do you love and hate about your job? Are there avenues into your field that would not require me to go back to school full-time? If I were to take a math class what classes would be most applicable to accounting or being an actuary?

Is changing careers worth a possible pay cut and/or going back to school especially if I'm not sure what I want to do? What are some steps I could take to make sure that my new career is one I will love? 




Fuyu

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 58
  • Age: 29
Re: Accountants, actuaries and human resource managers, I need your help!
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2013, 05:01:10 PM »
Hope this helps. I've only worked in public accounting for a little over a year. My typical day consists mostly of staring back and forth at two monitors and referencing and tying out one number to another and rolling forward prior year work papers. I like my salary and the stability accounting offers. And my manager and coworkers are nice and easy to get along with. But, its a lot more tedious than I imagined when I was in college taking accounting classes. I loved accounting in school, but accounting work is so different.

For accounting, you don't need to be good in math. You just need to know how to add and subtract using a calculator/Excel.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2013, 05:05:32 PM by Fuyu »

marty998

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6479
  • Location: Sydney, Oz
Re: Accountants, actuaries and human resource managers, I need your help!
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2013, 05:55:22 PM »
I'm one of them. There's 3 main types of accounting: tax/business services, audit, and corporate.

I've done all 3, hated audit, grew to hate preparing tax returns but found a happy home within the corporate sector.

It's not all about adding up (ok I admit that's a lot of it). There's budgeting/forecasting, treasury, analysis, board reporting.

Biggest drawback is the office politics (and my 3 hour daily commute)

FrugalUndercover

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 25
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Australia
Re: Accountants, actuaries and human resource managers, I need your help!
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2013, 06:21:07 PM »
I work in actuarial consulting.  Qualifying as an actuary will take years (circa 3 years university full time followed by at least two years of professional exams while working). It is quite heavy on mathematics, as the field is basically finance (discounting cash flows) and statistics (probability of events) to price or reserve for insurance.

Working conditions are good in actuarial, but I think the qualification and study commitment exceeds that for accounting.  Accounting is a more general skill set that would open a range of job opportunities, and there are a range of part time study options.

You could also look at the curriculum to get more insight into course content. But day to day work is crunching numbers in spreadsheets, trends in claims experience etc. hope that helps.

Fletch

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 142
  • Location: DC
Re: Accountants, actuaries and human resource managers, I need your help!
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2013, 06:24:19 PM »
I was at one point interested in becoming an actuary, so I'll chime in. It's a certification process, a series of 10 exams, which takes 5-10 years to complete. With a solid math background, you could get hired after passing the first one and most companies will pay for you to complete the process. Without a math/stats/programming background, you would probably need to pass more like 3 to get taken seriously.
As a warning, the tests are BRUTAL. The study materials are expensive,it takes at least 6 months of dedicated studying to even think about passing, and the failure rate is high (50-60% of first time takers). I gave up after wasting a few hundred dollars on failed attempts, and got a job doing SAS programming instead, never looked back.

FrugalUndercover

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 25
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Australia
Re: Accountants, actuaries and human resource managers, I need your help!
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2013, 06:37:34 PM »
The exams are very difficult.  I know of 5 people who passed all exams first time out of perhaps 200 'actuarial' people I've known through university or work. Pass rates are c30% for the final level qualification exams, so you would need to be committed (one person i know took 9 attempts for a single exam - their final to qualify). Not qualifying would limit the work you could do in the field, but you could still work as an analyst.

I wouldn't to overly deter you from the field though. Mustachians are not 'average'

clutchy

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 339
Re: Accountants, actuaries and human resource managers, I need your help!
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2013, 07:21:13 PM »
I'm a public accountant; been doing it for 6 years and almost finished with my license(lazy). 

It honestly sounds to me like you need to leverage your knowledge and degree doing what you like.  I'm getting the distinct impression that making a jump or a change to a different field would not satisfy what you are actually looking for. 

I'd personally do some brainstorming and find a mentor/coach to help me flesh out some ideas and see if I could come up with something that I enjoy and find a career or create a career doing that.


re; public accounting.  My favorite part is communicating with others.  I like asking questions and determining control risks and how to mitigate them.  I actually spend a decent amount of my time talking with others but alot of time doing grunt work that is boring and menial. 

I wish you luck.

MMMdude

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 322
Re: Accountants, actuaries and human resource managers, I need your help!
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2013, 09:11:49 PM »
I'm a controller in industry for a large construction company that is part of a company you would all know - think top of the Fortune 500 type stuff.

Once you are designated, the $ is good.  Six figures should be a given unless you are in a depressed part of the country (I'm in Canada FWIW) and if you move onto a CFO role - double that.

It's OK, but I'm not really passionate about it though.  Once you have gone through some month ends, they are all the same.  Repetitive and somewhat stressful.  Once month end is over, then it's making sure nothing breaks, managing staff to ensure they are doing "exciting" stuff like bank recs and cheque runs.  Walking VP's through their P&L's in a way their eyes don't glaze over. 

 I feel at times that I am more an HR manager as managing my 9 staff members sometimes takes up most of my time.  Once in a while projects do come along and these are typically the only things that get me 'excited' nowadays in my job.  GroundHog day syndrome is very much in effect for me for the most part.

Prior to industry i was in public practice and despised it.  Having to keep track of your time, 'eating' hours on files, dealing with PITA clients, repetitive nature of the work, more and more and more and more checklists after Sarbanes/Oxley nonsense. 

I realized early on I chose the wrong career so am maxing salary and savings now to get to a FI status.  Once I'm there I could see myself doing bookkeeping part time or taking on contracts through the headhunters.

Oh..,,one other thing - you better be a Type A personality to the max in accounting. They are all Type A's for the most part and that gets annoying dealing with those types after awhile.  I have realized I am a Type B and am perfectly happy with that.

LizzyBee

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 65
Re: Accountants, actuaries and human resource managers, I need your help!
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2013, 09:26:47 AM »
Thank you all for the replies. I know it may be awhile, and I have a lot of thinking to do, but the descriptions of your jobs got me pretty excited. Taking the exams to become an actuary sounds brutal so maybe accounting would be easier to get into and offer more opportunities. I'm kicking myself for not getting some sort of math or finance degree, but my 20 year old self did not know that is what would make me happy. I'm pretty introverted (but still enjoy interacting with people), very Type A, and like making excel spreadsheets and crunching numbers in my budget for fun. Seriously, there are nights I would rather stay in and work on my budget or making my spreadsheet prettier or more efficient than hang out with friends. Kind of embarrassing, but true.