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Is A Degree In Accounting Worth It?
Wherever you are at this moment in life, there is a reason why you're wondering if a degree in accounting is worth it. The thing is, answering any such question relating to a career path and an academic qualification has a lot of variables and considerations that need to be taken into account.
Are you numerically inclined? Has accounting been a source of fascination for you? Would you be happy in a role as an accountant? Have you taken the appropriate high school classes that may permit you to enroll in a college-level degree or bachelor's degree program for accounting?
With that being said, the general exception would be that pursuing a career in accounting would be worth it in that you would have a defined career path. You would have many job prospects open to you, and if you prove to be successful in the role, you can grow tremendously in the field.
But let us take a closer look at a degree in accounting and break down the prospects that may help you better decide if a degree in accounting is actually worth it.
Is An Accounting Degree Worth It?
Any academic career that you choose to pursue involves great consideration. There are many aspects to consider such as the amount of time and money you would need to invest in your degree, whether you are pursuing a graduate degree in the same field, how much a job in this field offers financially, and so much more.
Is An Accounting Career The Right Fit For You
The first and most important consideration you would need to make and the first decision you would need to make is actually a personal one. You would need to decide if accounting is something you would enjoy and if it is something you may be good at.
From an early age, our strengths and weaknesses are quite clearly exhibited, our teachers would comment on how well we do in certain subjects and what we should focus on a bit more. This ultimately determines what subjects and coursework you pursue later in life, and indirectly molds the person you will become.
First, you need to know what your motivation for considering a degree in accounting is. Are you hoping to pursue a career as an accountant? Do you want to better manage your own finances, business finances, and investment opportunities? Or do you just consider yourself as someone who is good with numbers and that is what's prompting you to pursue this career?
The reality is that the career path you choose needs to reflect your interests and what you are passionate about, or else you may find yourself unhappy in your career. And a career is different from a job – a career is your lifelong pursuit, and a job is what you have as a means to achieving your career.
If you are scientifically inclined, creative, or you enjoy interacting and helping people, you may find yourself quickly bored in the role of an accountant. And while accounting is a science and you do work with people in the form of clients, you need to be cut out for the role of the accountant.
In short, your personality, interests, likes, and dislikes all need to be compatible with this field of study.
Investing In Yourself
Next, let us look at it from the point of view of investment. When you choose to pursue a career and the academic path it requires, you are investing in yourself by learning skills for the trade. This means paying for your academic studies, and coursework, and spending time working on refining your skills.
From a financial perspective, the money you spend on yourself, and your studies can be returned because accountants have the opportunity to gain experience within the industry and achieve success in either accounting firms, as private accountancy firm owners, or working as permanent accountants for other companies.
Yearly tuition for a four-year accounting bachelor's degree program at a public institution costs an average of $8,730, and at a private non-profit institution, it can cost around $36,360.
Given the consistency and stability that a career in accounting provides, you are almost guaranteed to see a return on your investments if you have opted to pursue a career in accounting.
Guaranteed Job Security
As previously mentioned, there is consistency and security in accounting careers. But as someone just entering into your academic career, your interests are not set on the immediate job outlook and salary that accounting has to offer, but rather, on what the future holds for this career when you are actually entering the workforce.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field of accounting and auditing expects to see a 6% projected growth in employment over the next 10 years, between 2021 to 2031. This means that 136,400 job openings can be expected each year for the next 10 years.
Considering that it takes about four years to earn a degree in accounting, in four years from now, or from when you begin your accounting degree, one of these 136,400 jobs could be yours.
One of the great things about the field of accounting is that the harder you work and the harder you pursue your career, the more career growth you will experience. One of the reasons why 136,400 new jobs are opening up each year for the next decade is to replace those that have left the workforce.
People leave their roles as accountants for a variety of reasons, either for retirement, career growth opportunities, or to change careers entirely. If you study further, you have greater prospects of earning promotions and moving up the metaphorical ladder that each career has.
This presents you with endless opportunities for advancement.
It would be remiss not to mention a particularly important aspect to consider when seeking a career path – the salary and earning prospects of that career. The BLS states that accountants and auditors can expect to earn a median annual wage of $77,250, or an hourly equivalent of $37.14.
The lowest 10% of accounting jobs earn less than $47,970 and the highest 10% earn more than $128,970. Earning factors would be influenced by, but are not limited to, aspects such as experience, level of qualifications, and skills that the individual exhibits in the role.
What Can You Do With A Degree In Accounting?
In a nutshell, you would be a number whizz. But let us take a closer look at what you can do with a degree in accounting.
An accounting degree, coupled with a related business degree, provides you with a number of opportunities that you can pursue. If you take any business management, business administration, or financial management courses with your accounting major, you have the opportunity to successfully fulfill management roles, in finances and beyond, in a number of different companies.
Having a qualification in accounting opens up a number of potential roles including those as a financial analyst, a financial advisor, or an auditor.
Having a qualification as an accountant equips you with a number of skills that go far beyond the field of accounting. As an accountant, you will learn how to audit the financials of both companies and organizations, as well as for your own needs.
You will learn not only how to balance financials and how to effectively draft and stick to budgets, but you will also learn how to conduct in-depth financial analysis. The skill of analyzing numbers goes beyond accounting, and it helps you stay in line with projected inflation and other concerns that sometimes get overlooked.
With your calculation skills honed in, you have the unique skills of providing sound financial advice either on a professional level or on a personal level.
What Are The Downsides?
As with every career, there are upsides and there are downsides, and the truth is, accounting is no different. While the benefits are monumental, you should know some of the drawbacks that you may face if you do pursue a career in accounting.
The first is that it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, commitment, and long hours to first complete your degree and then work a job as an accountant. When auditing and tax season rolls around, or when monthly financials or financial year-ends roll around, you may find yourself working later and longer hours. But while it does take hard work, nothing worth having ever comes easy.
It is for that reason that if you pursue this career from a place of passion, you are guaranteed to succeed despite the difficulties you may face.
The second drawback you might face is that you cannot advance in the field of accounting without further pursuing your studies. This means that if you are hoping for career advancements and you are hoping not to face stagnation in your field, you would need to pursue higher degrees in the form of a master's or doctoral degree, and you would need to take coursework that is directly targeted to the field you are in and the field you are hoping to pursue.
Lastly, the role of an accountant is an extremely stressful one. With a lot of responsibility on your shoulders, it is up to you to make sure one of the most important aspects of a business – its finances – is in check.
With such a heavy weight and responsibility, it is important that as an accountant you always make sure you give attention to your family and yourself. Do not cast aside your mental health and mental well-being. Being a healthy version of yourself will allow you to mentally thrive in your job, especially a job that has no room for error.
Different Accounting Roles You Can Hold
Having a degree in accounting not only equips you to fulfill the role of an accountant but also opens up a myriad of other career prospects. You can walk into a number of other jobs that are related to accounting but are not necessarily accounting roles, all of which offer great benefits and income.
At an entry-level, you may assume a role as an accounting clerk. You could also pursue entry-level roles as administrative assistants, accounting assistants, financial assistants, bookkeepers, and auditing clerks. As entry-level roles, these jobs may even be considered while you are pursuing your degree and while you are studying for your accounting qualifications.
As you pursue higher qualifications in the field of accounting, you can consider roles as a senior tax accountant, budget analyst, accounting manager, financial manager, management consultant, financial advisor, compliance analyst, forensic accountant, and financial consultant.
How Can An Accounting Degree Benefit You In Other Areas Of Your Life?
Whether you are calculating a tip at a restaurant, whether you are working out your own taxes for the year, whether you are seeking viable investment opportunities, or whether you are advising others on their finances, having a qualification in accounting can help you in your personal life as well.
As someone who is an accountant, you may not need a personal financial advisor, you may not need a personal accountant, and that can save you and your business on the cost of having an accountant.
Additionally, the skills that you will acquire as an accountant will allow you to look at other facets of life with an analytical approach. You may find yourself spotting details that others may miss, and this can be attributed to the skills you acquire from your degree.
Things To Consider
Pursuing a degree in accounting is not a 'one and done' kind of deal. It means working hard toward growth and pursuing higher degrees that are targeted to the specific role you are hoping to fulfill. If you want to focus on the tax aspect of accounting, you will need to focus on coursework that is tax related.
If you are hoping to pursue a role as a bookkeeper, that is the type of coursework you would need to pursue.
With that being noted, any duties you are hoping to fulfill as an accountant would need to be backed up by the appropriate qualification. You may also need to pursue certification to work as a charted accountant and to be approved by an accounting board.
Working with money and the financials of a business requires you to have innate attributes such as honesty, integrity, and loyalty.
Accounting provides you with an impressive number of career benefits that have the ability to reap lifelong rewards. As an accountant, you will be equipped with skills that are set in stone, and that will not change over time. An accountant today is the same as an accountant 20 years ago and will be the same as an accountant 20 years from now.
With impressive upward mobility, accounting offers guaranteed growth. And despite some drawbacks, the overall benefits far exceed these drawbacks. With that being said, aside from individual preference, a degree in accounting proves to be extremely worth it!
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