As one of the most popular solutions for business majors, an accounting degree is continuously proving to be worth the investment. Constant changes in the laws, standards, and practices facilitate an exciting career characterized by innovation. Moreover, the job security offered by the field of accounting takes a back seat to absolutely no profession. In fact, the hiring rates for accounting majors are at an all-time high in most universities that offer recruiting events. So, is there a way that one could make a claim that the cumulative number of jobs in accounting is slowly decreasing?
University students may ask, “Are there accounting jobs available for college graduates?” A quick look at the data shows that accounting jobs are increasing at least as quickly as the growth of the overall economy. In the digital age, accountants have more opportunities than ever before.
Those who are willing to relocate or work remotely can find excellent opportunities all over the country. The domestic job market for accountants remains steady as new jobs are created and older workers leave the profession. If U.S.-based work isn’t the right choice for some accountants, there are plenty of opportunities to join multinational firms in foreign countries.
Taxes Are Always Due
When the economy goes into a downturn, a lot of businesses receive stimulation-based incentives. These may include things like debt relief or loan elimination services so that the company would not go bankrupt. Well, there is one specific liability that the government will never allow anyone to overlook – taxes. And who happens to handle tax returns? Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) that hold an accounting degree. Thus, no matter how bad the economy may be at any given moment, accountants will permanently have a job as their role in the world of tax is not impacted by a reduction in revenues.
Tax accountants have an advantage over bookkeepers and auditors because most people need help filing their tax returns each year. High-earners have an incentive to keep as much of their money as possible, so certified tax accountants will always be in demand.
With certification and experience, tax accountants can set themselves up for high-paying careers in a reliable industry. While the need for tax accountants will grow only as quickly as the overall economy, there will be a steady stream of job openings as older accountants retire. Tax accountants do most of their work at tax time, but they also work throughout the year to help their clients stay in compliance with laws and regulations.
The Risks of Automation and Outsourcing
Besides the economy, modernization is one of the most dangerous competitors to almost all industries. Although it is great for automizing low-level tasks, relying on computers to handle repetitive functions is slowly eliminating countless jobs. Just think about the industrial sector where assembly line employees are rapidly losing the battle to robotics. In accounting, however, such a shift in power is practically impossible. Contrary to popular belief, accounting jobs do not revolve around crunching numbers and entering data into spreadsheets. Instead, these professionals handle a plethora of functions that robots could not do. Some of those include the following:
- Face-to-face interactions with clients;
- Quantifying objectives based on clients’ expectations;
- Knowing how to interpret data to the client and perpetuate profitable decisions;
- Understanding how the law may bend in certain cases.
All of the aforementioned depict a narrative in which it is impossible to imagine a robot. Nevertheless, if automation somehow reaches this field, it will certainly be in the distant future.
While automation isn’t yet a threat to accountants, it will play a role in their work for the foreseeable future. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, emerging technologies such as data mining and artificial intelligence will impact the accounting profession over the next decade. Employers will still need accountants to ensure that these algorithms are reliable and productive.
As globalization continues to link distant economies together through foreign trade and digital technology, accountants will have even more opportunities. Although outsourcing may be a risk for U.S. accountants with only a four-year degree, those with more education will have no problem competing for good jobs.
Are there accounting jobs available for college students who are about to graduate? The BLS states that growth in this field will hover around 4 percent through 2029, creating about 125,700 jobs per year. Four-percent growth is the national average for all occupations, so accounting majors currently in school will have jobs waiting for them after graduation.
Are There Accounting Jobs Overseas?
Overseas accounting jobs present an opportunity and a risk for U.S.-based accountants. With the right credentials and experience, an American accountant can find excellent employment opportunities overseas. Countries all over the world need highly qualified accountants for tasks such as budgeting, cost estimation, bookkeeping and auditing.
A chartered accountant is the international equivalent of a CPA, and many chartered and certified positions are available online. In many cases, accountants working overseas will have to physically move to the country of their employment. Because accounting is quantitative, requiring technical skills rather than people skills, many accountants can do their jobs from home. This fact is a huge advantage for accountants in the increasingly digitized global economy.
Where Else Are There Accounting Jobs?
According to the BLS, the states that employ the most accountants are California, New York, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania. While the national median salary for accountants is $73,560 per year, the median for each of the top states is slightly higher. The median in California is $88,130 while the median in New York is $101,440.
The states with the most accounting jobs aren’t necessarily the states with the highest median annual income for accountants. The territory with the highest median salary for accountants is Washington, D.C., at $110,140. California employs the most accountants with 150,050 in the state, and New York employs the second-highest number at 112,360. While the cost of living in these locations can be higher than in other parts of the country, they offer abundant opportunities for accountants to find work.
Do Chartered Accountants Have Good Job Prospects?
CAs are in high demand all over the world, including locations in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Like CPAs, they have a higher level of training than typical accountants without any special designation. CAs can find work in the U.S. with businesses that depend on foreign exchange or foreign regulations, but these jobs are less common than CPA jobs.
The best prospects for CAs are with foreign firms that specialize in business, finance, taxation, management or auditing. These firms exist all over the world in countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. Accountants looking for a change of location can find plenty of opportunities in places where CAs are in demand.
Are There Accounting Jobs for Recent Graduates?
Entry-level accounting jobs are available for recent college graduates, especially those with advanced credentials, such as a CPA designation or master’s degree. Major accounting firms such as Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers recruit recent college graduates every year, selecting the candidates with the best academic records and test scores.
These businesses are large multinational networks of firms stationed in countries around the world, so they hire a lot of accountants during recruiting season. Because they’re selective in their hiring, many recent graduates will have to find work outside of the four major accounting firms. As the economy becomes more globalized and digital technology matures, new accounting graduates will have employment opportunities both at home and abroad.
Is Accounting Still a Good College Major?
Accounting is a challenging major with the potential for excellent rewards. Although accounting isn’t growing as quickly as some fields, such as computer science, it’s growing quickly enough to create jobs for each new class of college graduates.
In the global job market, accountants have even more opportunities, especially with the growth of online workplaces and schools around the world. U.S.-based accountants can become certified or chartered through online courses. Then, they can search for jobs online and possibly find remote job opportunities as CAs or CPAs.
How to Compete for the Best Accounting Jobs
The best accounting jobs offer high income, advancement opportunities and job security. Most accountants aim to join one of the Big Four accounting firms, which include Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and Ernst & Young. These large multinational firms employ hundreds of thousands of accountants around the world, and they’re often looking for new recruits.
The best way to compete for the top accounting jobs is to maintain an excellent academic record and obtain advanced certification. Most accounting schools offer a five-year CPA program, which prepares students to take the CPA exam. Only around half of all students pass the CPA exam on the first attempt, but those who earn their certification will have excellent job prospects.
Education Required to Be Competitive
With educational inflation, the education required to be competitive in the accounting job market is always on the rise. In previous decades, accountants needed only a four-year degree to find work in prestigious firms and eventually become chief executives. In the current economy, accountants should aim to have as many credentials as possible. The top professional designations for accountants include:
- Certified fraud examiner
- Certified management accountant
- Certified tax preparer
- Certified public bookkeeper
- Certified financial analyst
- Enrolled agent
With a college degree and professional certification, an accountant can expect to find high-paying work with good growth potential. As long as the degree comes from an accredited college, it will meet the educational requirements for an accounting career. However, some colleges are renowned for their excellent accounting programs. A degree from a top school could lead to a career in one of the Big Four accounting firms.
Are There Accounting Jobs for Older Job Seekers?
Older college graduates and career changers can find work in many of the same places as younger job seekers. Even the major multinational accounting firms will treat older applicants with the same respect and consideration as their younger counterparts. Employers value older applicants for their maturity, wisdom and life experience.
Career changers near retirement age may not receive the same opportunities as those at the beginning of their careers. For example, a large firm may not offer their older employees tuition assistance for graduate school. College graduates and career changers in their fifties or sixties may not have enough time left in their careers to justify the cost of graduate school. They can still earn excellent incomes with only a bachelor’s degree, especially if they become certified.
Job Outlook in Similar Occupations
An accounting degree can lead to a career in a related field, such as finance, management, teaching or actuarial science. Most of these careers offer high salaries and excellent growth potential, and a few stand out from the rest.
Financial management jobs are expected to grow by 15 percent through 2029, which is much faster than the national average. Financial managers earn a huge median annual salary of $134,180. Postsecondary teaching jobs are expected to grow by 9 percent through 2029. The median salary for college educators is $80,790 per year, which is higher than the median for accountants. Financial analyst jobs are expected to grow by 5 percent through 2029, and the median salary for this profession is $83,660 per year.
The job outlook for accountants is robust because it’s tied to the growth of the overall economy. The prospects for workers in similar occupations may be even better, especially for those with professional experience and advanced skill sets.
With educational inflation pushing the demand for professional credentials ever higher, a four-year accounting degree will gradually lose its significance in the job market. Instead, accountants will need master’s degrees and other certifications to stay competitive. Even with a bachelor’s degree from an Ivy League business school, an accountant will need to continue learning and acquiring credentials. Accounting firms may offer to pay for their employees’ master’s degrees in exchange for a commitment to stay with the firm for several years.
Searching for a job in the modern, globalized economy can be daunting, but just about everyone can find a job with a little effort. Accounting jobs increase every year across the country, so an accounting degree is still a good investment for a college student. Not only are there accounting jobs in the U.S. economy, but there are opportunities for accountants all over the world.
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