How to Transition to an Accounting Career
Why Consider Accounting as a Second Career
1. Above-Average Pay
2. Upward Mobility
3. Projected Job Growth
Do You Need a Master’s in Accounting to Change Careers?
- If you already possess a bachelor’s degree—even one that is not related to accounting—you can enroll to pursue a master of accounting. Many master of accounting programs will admit students with a bachelor’s degree in any field of study. Look into specific programs to understand admission requirements and see what prerequisite courses, if any, you might need to take.
- Also, the option to obtain a master of accounting online means you can take a flexible approach to earn this degree. This option is ideal if you want to continue working or have other responsibilities that preclude you from returning to school full-time.
How to Make a Mid-Career Change to Accounting
While every professional path is different, there are standard steps to take that can help aspiring accountants get ahead. These include understanding the necessary educational credentials required and selecting a specialization if you desire one.
Here is a breakdown of steps to take to enter and advance in the accounting industry.
- Fulfill Accounting Education Requirements
First and foremost, you must obtain the necessary education to become an accountant. A bachelor’s degree in accounting is the minimum qualification for most entry-level accounting roles. It is in this program that you will gain a foundation in accounting practices and principles. Furthermore, a bachelor’s in accounting is a necessary foundational requirement for anyone seeking to become a certified public accountant (CPA) in the future.
However, you do not need a bachelor’s in accounting in order to pursue a master’s in accounting. If you enroll in a master of accounting degree program, you may just need to take a few extra foundational classes.
- Obtain Accounting Industry Experience
To signal your value and understanding to future employers, gaining experience as an accountant in the field is crucial. It is common for accounting students to hold an internship or part-time position while still in school. Outside of the classroom, students can implement accounting practices in the real world and interact with professionals in the industry.
Obtaining temporary or part-time employment in the accounting sector can also open the door to securing full-time employment. In fact, the “Big Four” (Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and KPMG) accounting firms often hire a significant portion of their interns as full-time employees. For instance, Deloitte hires more than 3,000 interns each year, many of whom go on to work full-time at the company.
- Fulfill Accounting Certifications or Licenses
As this is your second career, you likely want to move up quickly in the ranks and stand out amidst other accountants. Pursuing certification allows you to specialize in a certain area.
For instance, you could prove your deep understanding of the stock market with a chartered financial analyst certification (CFA) or signal your financial planning knowledge as a certified management accountant (CMA). Typical requirements of these certifications include a certain amount of work experience and passing one or more exams.