How to Get a Job as an Accountant
Rebecca Mahler, manager of career research and student organizational partnerships at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), can't stress enough how important it is for aspiring accountants to become certified. "It's really the gold star on the resume," she says, primarily because certified public accountants must take courses each year to maintain their certification, which is useful to employers. "It's an invaluable credential, and you get a 10 to 15 percent higher salary." Aside from obtaining certification, Mahler has several tips for landing an accounting job. First, she suggests specializing in a specific type of accounting, like forensic or managerial, which can lead to consulting opportunities. Second, Mahler recommends networking, saying that "The more you can get involved in the accounting community, the more likely you are to get that phone call." And lastly, Mahler strongly recommends taking some time to study before an interview. "My number-one recommendation for applicants is to brush up on your basic accounting skills," she says. "Interviewers want to know that you still have that foundation."
Interview Questions Submitted by Real Accountants
"What contributions can you bring to the organization that will enhance our financial goals?" - Unigroup Accounting Candidate (Saint Louis, MO)
"Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" - AIG Senior Investment Accountant Candidate (Woodland Hills, CA)
"Do you enjoy a matrixed environment with little structure?" - The Mentor Network Staff Accountant Candidate (Location Unknown)
What is the Job Like?
Most accountants work in an office setting, although some may be able to work out of their homes. The standard work week is 40 hours, although many accountants work longer, especially if they are self-employed or have numerous clients. Longer hours are also common during tax season. The work is deadline-oriented, however, so you may feel more active than you would at a typical job. Accountants working for public firms, government agencies, and organizations with more than one location may have to travel fairly frequently to perform audits at multiple branches, places of business, or government facilities. There is also plenty of room for advancement: Starting accountants may find themselves with a managerial position after only a few years if they are working with a firm, while some may go on to open their own practice.
Real Reviews From Accountants
+ "Great exposure to different clients and different businesses. Very good training and preparation for incoming staff. Gives room for personal development." - Ernst & Young Staff Accountant (Location Unknown)
+ "Great entry level job. I got hired straight out of college for a $40k+ job that is great experience and a great resume builder." - T. Rowe Price Fund Accountant (Owings Mills, MD)
- "There were long hours. Sometimes you had to do overnight traveling, which depending on location can take a mental toll." - KPMG Staff Accountant (Location Unknown)
- "Lack of recognition outside of accounting industry. We are constantly compared to the Big 4. Everyone has heard of the Big 4 accounting firms, very few have ever heard of UHY." - UHY Advisors Accountant (Houston, TX)
Review information and interview questions supplied by Glassdoor.