Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Advice for the Accounting Grad

You may not make 65K your first year out of school, but the future job outlook for accountants is good. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) beginning in 2008, 22 million workers who are 45 or older will start leaving the workforce, primarily due to retirement. One of the job categories expected to see higher than average departures in that age group are financial managers as well as bookkeepers and accounting and auditing clerks. I have already begun experiencing this at my organization. As members of my staff retire or move on to better opportunities, I have found it increasingly difficult to fill their positions. Recent accounting grads do not even consider accounting clerk positions. I firmly believe they are holding out for better opportunities and are finding them.

How to be more marketable:
Don't overlook summer intern or seasonal tax preparer positions in hopes of a permanent job. If you perform well you will most likely be hired permanently in the fall or when a permanent position becomes available. If at all possible get experience in public accounting. More employers now require public accounting experience. Join business fraternities and professional organizations, and become an active participant. Recently during a CPE workshop sponsored by my accounting organization, a member practically hired a student attendee as a summer intern on the spot.

Get your Certified Public Accountant CPA or Certified Management Accountant CMA certification:
At this same meeting, an accounting student asked whether or not she should take the CPA exam; her boss had advised her against it saying she didn’t need it to be an accountant. Hello, maybe not to work for him, but a lot can happen over the course of a career. The CPA designation comes with a lot of honor and recognition. He is correct it is not a requirement in order to work as an accountant but it does make a difference. It has certainly opened a few doors for me. Also, don’t rule out the CMA exam. When I was in school, it was all about the CPA exam, now my boss wants to know why I never got a CMA.

Which Offer Should I Take?
One of my college professors advised that if you had the luxury of receiving two like job offers to take the one in which you liked the people the best. You will be spending at least forty hours a week with your new co-workers; if you don't like them, your working life has the potential to be miserable.

In closing, a respected CPA I worked with early in my career found the best accounting professionals to be highly motivated and committed to continuous learning. Remember, now that your classroom time has ended you are responsible for keeping your skills and knowledge current and for managing your own career, not your employer.

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