If you’re considering an accounting career, it pays to look at the pros and cons. After all, there’s a good chance you’re an analytical person who likes to know the score. So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of a career in accounting, one by one.
Pro – Accounting Is a Stable Career Path
Some trends come and go, and along with them the jobs they create. Accounting, on the other hand, is crucial for business in any industry, as well as nonprofits and governments. That makes accounting a very stable field because trends don’t affect the need for accounting professionals.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows accounting jobs growing slightly faster than average with median pay over $70,000. You can count on the availability of accounting jobs (no pun intended) and with such a practical skill set it’s pretty easy to move between industries as demand shifts.
Con – It May Not Be Glamorous
Although Ben Affleck looked pretty cool in The Accountant, it’s not the most glamorous job. Much of what accountants do is behind the scenes and plays a supporting role for the company.
So, if glitz and glamour are what you’re after in a career, accounting may not be for you. Of course, you could always dive into forensic accounting or work for the FBI. Whatever you do, don’t use your skills to help launder drug money. Just ask Jason Bateman.
Pro – Flexibility to Live Anywhere
While we don’t recommend that hasty move to the Ozarks, accounting does have the flexibility to let you work just about anywhere. Since every industry and every size of business relies on accountants, you can find a good accounting job anywhere in the country, internationally, or even working remotely.
In some cases, accounting can even include travel. This is especially true for auditors who travel to visit the companies and branches they’re auditing.
Con – Busy Seasons Are…Well…Busy
The workload in the accounting department tends to be seasonal. If you’re involved in taxes, the first few months of the year will be a busy ramp up to the tax deadline. If you’re working in industry and preparing the financials, the end of the fiscal year will be extra busy.
Even within the normal cycle of financial periods, there are calm and busy times. For example, the month-end closetends to be a busy time as everyone works together to wrap up the period.
Pro – Technology Is Making It Easier
Technology continues to make accounting less tedious and less stressful. Entering transactions, analyzing data, and the month-end close are all made easier by apps and tech tools that automate manual processes and reduce human error. This leaves accountants with a lot more breathing room.
With more and more automation, accountants are freed to take a more strategic role in applying the numbers to actual business problems. Less stress + more meaningful involvement = a much better career.
Con – Everyone Will Want Tax Advice
It’s true. Even if you don’t remotely work in taxation, taxes are one of the first things people think about when they talk to an accountant. Chances are, your friends and family will be popping up just before April to ask for some tax advice. Of course, this could be a pro or a con. It may be a little bit annoying but it’s nice to be needed.
Pro – There Are Great Opportunities for Growth
When you first get into the accounting field, you’ll probably be looking at an entry-level role. But accounting has huge opportunities for growth! As you gain experience, further your education, and expand your skills, you can move up the ladder into bigger and better positions.
In fact, many CFOs and Financial Directors started at a desk in the accounting department and came up through the ranks. With accounting skills needed at all levels of business, it’s possible to go all the way to the top.
Con – Ongoing Education Is a Must
If you want that career growth, you’ll have to continue learning. This isn’t really a con but it takes dedication and hard work. It takes a lot of education and experience to obtain a credential like CPA and continuing education to keep it.
Even if you aren’t looking to move up in the company, accountants always need to learn and grow, because they have to stay on top of changes in technology and in the financial and business regulations they work with on a daily basis.
Pro – You Can Make a Huge Impact on Any Company You Choose
Remember what we said about working in any industry? Not only is this great for finding a job in the city (or small town) of your choice, it also means you can work for a company you actually care about.
Working for a business you love makes the job that much more rewarding and, as an accountant, you can have a massive impact on the success and sustainability of that business. You can even start a business of your own and choose to work with clients you’re passionate about helping.
Con – There Are a LOT of Numbers
Accounting is a numbers game. But like many things on this list, it’s only a con if it’s not a fit for you. Some people love working with numbers and enjoy the challenge of solving financial problems and puzzles. Others can’t stand spreadsheets and analyzing financial data
Ultimately, a career in accounting can be rewarding, fun, and lucrative, if it’s a good fit for you personally. If not, it probably won’t add up.