Be an accountant

winnie 014 accountant kitty is not amusedIt’s not difficult to become an accountant.

In my 15 years as an accounting professor, I’ve had the good fortune to help prepare thousands students for the accounting profession.  Many of them probably never considered accounting until they started to study it.

Careers in accounting provide tremendous job satisfaction, high salaries, and comfortable job security.  Opportunities abound in public accounting firms, private companies, government, and even not-for-profit organizations.  While Bob Cratchit might be the stereotypical accountant, in reality accountants go places, advance, and meet people.  While they must know how to “crunch numbers,” they must also know how to work with others.

This is not going to sound politically correct, but key here is to earn the CPA designation.  In most states, this can be accomplished by:

  • completing 150 hours of course work usually with a bachelor’s degree plus additional college credits.
  • passing the CPA exam, and
  • completing an experience requirement.

Each state has its own requirements. Here is a list of state boards of accountancy.  Keep in mind that many states offer reciprocity – you can become certified in one state, and then recognized in another.  Therefore, you can get licensed in a state other than the one where you live.

What if you already have a college degree and you started a different career, but are thinking of switching to accounting?  Do you need to start all over?

Absolutely not.  Most states will let you take the CPA exam and get certified with a Masters of Science degree, which can often be completed in less than two years, part-time.  Many states will even let you take a simple series of courses to qualify to take the exam.  Furthermore, Masters of Science programs will offer recruiting opportunities and help you set up interviews for your first job.  The most rigorous programs are usually accredited by the AACSB in Accounting.  (BTW, in case you’re in the New York/New Jersey area, here is our program.)

In summary, if you’re looking for a satisfying, secure, and well-paying position, and you want to get started within two years, accounting may be the right field for you.

[Image: winnie 014 accountant kitty is not amused by apium, on Flickr]

About Mark P. Holtzman

Chair of Accounting Department at Seton Hall University. PhD from The University of Texas at Austin. Worked at Deloitte's New York Office. BSBA from Hofstra University.

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