A business professional who has data analysis skills that they want to use to help guide corporate decision making often search out the requirements to become a managerial accountant. A managerial accountant identifies and evaluates both quantitative and qualitative financial data to help company leadership meet an organization’s goals, mission and vision. While managerial accountants possess the same knowledge relating to accounting standards, principles, theories and ethics as financial accountants, their work is performed primarily for internal use. For example, they help other managers create product pricing models based upon analysis of cost factors and profit margin information. Alternately, many of the work products of financial accountants are used to inform external stakeholders about an organization’s financial status and health. Here are some of the steps that managerial accountants take to begin and maintain jobs in this interesting career category.
Education and Training
Most managerial accountants jump start their careers with an undergraduate degree in accounting, business administration, economics or finance. While all of these degree programs expose students to knowledge that they can use directly on the job, aspiring managerial accountants seek out as many accounting electives as possible when they choose non-accounting business majors. These courses allow students to develop competence in understanding and reporting accounting and financial data in ways that are standard to the industry. Course topics taught in non-accounting business concentration areas like business administration, finance and economics help students to hone critical thinking and problem solving skills using varying professional perspectives. Because many managerial accountant jobs do not require candidates to have certified public accountant licenses, competition is often high for these types of jobs. Subsequently, some managerial accountants return to school to earn advanced degrees like a Master of Business Administration or a Master of Accountancy.
Another way that managerial accountants distinguish themselves in the job market is by earning certifications that are relevant to their job and the industries that they support. For example, many managerial accountants gain the Certified Management Accountant credential, and others who support government agencies may go through Certified Government Financial Management or Acquisition Program Management certification programs.
Professional Development and Networking
Even when managerial accountants attain their dream jobs, successful practitioners pursue continuing education opportunities throughout their careers. These learning opportunities could be formal courses or webinars that are taught by industry experts, and they are most often found through industry associations. These associations like the Institute of Management Accountants are also known for their extensive libraries of industry research publications, journals and newsletters that keep accounting practitioners aware of current challenges in their career field. Networking helps accounting professionals to advertise their skills, knowledge and abilities to hiring managers and peers, and participation in industry association activities is one way to effectively network for better positions. Besides face to face networking at conferences and association meetings, many aspiring managerial accountants showcase their skills through professional networking sites like LinkedIn.
The job activities associated with managerial accounting help to support an organization’s profitability or cost reduction goals so that the business can operate as efficiently as possible. The data analysis efforts of managerial accountants can even identify trends that indicate financial opportunities or risks, and they measure the results of investment decisions to determine the level of financial success achieved and where improvements can be made. Many business professionals believe that the rewarding challenges of this job category far outweigh the time and financial investment needed to become a managerial accountant.
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