Whenever I have the opportunity to speak with fresh accounting graduates, a question that usually comes up is: “What type of accountant should I be?” The truth is it depends. There are many different directions that you can go with an accounting degree.
One of the advantages of pursuing a career in accounting is that it can take many different shapes and sizes across various industries. You have a lot of options. Today I want to share some pros and cons of pursuing different accounting careers. Maybe some advice shared below can help you see the big picture.
What Type of Accountant Should I Be?
In answering the question “What type of accountant should I be?”, you will need to consider several options. Below I have listed some of the more common accounting career tracks that I have observed over the years. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list by no means.
Public Accounting for Life Type – I am convinced that some people are just built to be in public accounting. It is what they love. They love the busy season and the love when it is quiet. They do not mind the change. They love challenges. They enjoy travel. They love working. True, there is less time for family for many that choose this route, but it is still something they enjoy.
Start in Accounting and Move to Finance Type – There is another group of people who start off in the hardcore accounting arena (either in public or private accounting) and then they progress to more finance-oriented positions. This group loves to work with numbers, but they get a bit bored with routine tasks. They enjoy variety. They like working on new projects. They want to develop forecast on a new product. They enjoy the cutting edge. It works for them because they understand what accounting is all about. Many of these working professionals end up in roles such as Senior Financial Analyst or as a Director of Finance.
Internal Audit to Operations Type – If you find yourself to be super inquisitive and someone who loves to research, then going for a career in Internal Audit might be your thing. One of the advantages of a career in Internal Audit is that you get to see how the company works from a higher point of view. Oftentimes you get to work with every department in the company. You understand how things work outside of just the numbers. This is why many corporations promote people from Internal Audit into areas of Operations in the company. It is not uncommon for the Director of Operations to have an internal audit background in some companies.
Tax Accounting All the Way Type – Tax accounting is its own animal. In order to enjoy a career in tax, you have to be a lifetime learner. Every year there are changes in the tax code and you need to be on top of what is going on. It can often be difficult for someone to jump back into tax if they have been removed from it for awhile. One downside is that tax has it career limitations. There is not a lot of lateral career movement once you get going in tax. The plus side is that the competition for open tax positions is much smaller.
Corporate Accounting in Different Industries Type – The last career choice has to do with starting in corporate accounting and staying there. The only difference is when you move into a different industry. Sometimes the way you do accounting changes depending on the industry. There is a learning curve that needs to take place. This career choice is steady and predictable. It works really well for those who love routine. Your workflow will often look the same from month to month. The goal is almost always the same” produce the monthly financials and attack the month end close in as little time as possible.
What type of accountant should I be? There’s 5 choices for you to consider. Some of it depends on your personality and some of it depends on your natural skills and abilities. That is why it is so important that you really know what you are about before you try to get a job. Read back through the descriptions above until one of the career paths resonates with you.