Author Topic: Accountants - Why did you become one?  (Read 1185 times)

Future Lazy

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Accountants - Why did you become one?
« on: March 17, 2017, 10:23:28 AM »
Hi All,

It's recently come to my attention that my interest in personal finance is symptomatic of a deeper, long-term interest that I have in economics and business. So much so that I have been considering following a path to becoming either a Certified Financial Planner or a Certified Public Accountant, or both. I have been considering starting an accounting degree program through Western Governor's University, which would allow me to remain in the workforce while I move towards a degree. WGU also provides a higher education structure that rewards me for what I have already learned in the workforce by not forcing me to re-learn it.

That being said, I am still trying to decide if there is room for me in the accounting field on the other end of the degree. Can some current Accountant Mustachians help out?

Why did you choose accounting?

Do you still like it, or is it the grind you're trying to escape from?

What is your general workday like? Are you afforded workplace privacy? Is it possible to do your work primarily remotely?

Can you plan your own day and pace your workload, or do you work under deadlines and quotas?

Is your interaction with clients mainly customer service based, or sales based?
(Where customer service is doing work for a client they've asked for ex. tax preparation, sales is trying to persuade a client to purchase a product they don't really want or need ex. life insurance).

What are the benefits of working with businesses vs. working with the general public?

Are the barriers to independent practice or entrepreneurship in this field high, or low?

Is it possible to begin working in the accounting field before completing a BS? (Ex paid internship, freelancing, etc).

Any other words of caution before jumping in both feet first?

Thanks bunches!
Kayla

SpinGeek

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Re: Accountants - Why did you become one?
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2017, 01:21:15 PM »
I'm in upper management of our non-accounting services business unit, so I can't really answer your questions about the CPA/client role. I do know that our corporate office is forecasting a shortage of accountants in the next few years for their accounting/tax division, so it looks like a growth field in the future.

I chose accounting because I didn't want to stand on marble floors in heels for 8-10 hours a day selling clothes, and I could balance my checkbook. Seriously, that was the criteria for my first bookkeeping job. I have taken several accounting courses since that auspicious beginning. I like numbers (as long as they aren't imaginary or involve calculus), and I like making things add up correctly. Over 25 years in and I can't say it's my passion in life, but the good things still outweigh the tedious things most days. It is interesting to see how business decisions affect a company's bottom line, as well as how many things affect the bottom line that have nothing to do with what a company makes or does.

I'm in a bit of a unique situation; for the last two years I've been working from home four days a week, and at our client site one day a week for "face time" purposes. This is very much not the norm for our company. I am definitely constrained by deadlines, both corporate, SEC and state revenue departments (hello, only one possible week when I can take a day off each month). But at my current position I work pretty independently as long as our corporate office gets their stuff on time and the government gets their returns by the deadlines. It depends on whether you're working in an area where tax returns are involved. If so, pretty much count on having no life and no sleep from January to May every year.

You might be able to get a low-level job coding invoices for an Accounts Payable department without a degree, but probably nothing higher. I've even seen A/P clerk positions that ask for at least an Associates degree now. For many firms, it's a matter of liability -- Errors and Omissions insurance isn't cheap. I wouldn't be qualified for my job if I had to apply for it today; luckily 30 years of experience and reliability still count for something occasionally.

Bottom line: yes, accounting is a good field to get into if you're detail oriented and don't mind paying your dues with a ton of routine grunt work. If you're more into statistics, then actuarial accounting might be a better fit. If you like interacting with customers and want to work for yourself, then get some experience working at a CPA firm before striking out on your own. If you're looking for something more lucrative (and higher stress/risk), financial accounting may be for you.

TaxChick

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Re: Accountants - Why did you become one?
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2017, 01:50:52 PM »
I have twenty-five years experience in accounting, both public accounting and in private industry.  It has its positives and negatives.  Keep in mind you will need to have more than a bachelor's degree to sit for the CPA exam, so this adds a year to your study time.  I would recommend public accounting for 2-4 years as you can get a lot of varied experience during that time.  It can be grueling, so you most likely won't want to stay in public accounting for your entire career.  I would also recommend audit over tax.  I think there are more opportunities. You can always go into tax later.

Each workplace has different rules and values. I have been at the same company for 16+ years.  Some departments allow work from home, others do not.  There is also a lot of outsourcing going on for basic accounting functions such as AP and sometimes even general accounting. So you will always want to keep your skills fresh.

Joel

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Re: Accountants - Why did you become one?
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2017, 02:05:28 PM »
Getting an accounting degree,  your CPA, and working in audit at a public accounting form for 3-5 years can provide significant value and experience. There's so many directions you can go from that point. I highly recommend that route. Just know that getting your CPA requires a serious amount of studying and public accounting hours can be intense. That's hard if you have a family, but if you can do it while you are young, it is very rewarding.

-Ex-Big 4 Audit CPA currently working in Internal Audit- looking to get an assistant controller role.