Like most things in life, a career in accounting has its positives and negatives. Being an accountant is much more than simply working with numbers every day. It’s a profession that provides a certain prestige level.
An accountant’s ability to work with financial data and money enables them to help others prosper financially. It is a way to make a positive difference in the life of every client that wants accounting services.
However, being stuck in the office all day staring at spreadsheets may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Are you an expat considering accounting as a suitable career option for you? Then read the following pros and cons of being an accountant to know if it’s the right fit for you.
10 Pros of Being an Accountant
1) Income Stability
Indeed, not everybody is skilled at working with numbers and budgets. That includes companies. An accountant can choose to be self-employed or pursue a full-time job with excellent benefits in nearly any industry. The high level of job availability means that accounting professionals enjoy income stability.
2) High Salaries
An accounting profession with the relevant qualifications usually means having the potential to earn higher. The amount one is paid typically varies depending on whether they are working in a city or a more rural region. It also depends on the size of the organization; larger, more renowned companies are likely to pay higher than smaller ones. The average annual salary of an accountant is around $54,949 in the USA, with some earning as high as $84,000. For an expat looking to move to the UK, the average yearly salary for an accountant is £28,875. With 20 years or more of working experience, UK accountants earn about £35,487 per annum.
3) A Chance to Travel
Accountants are not usually tied down to a specific location. Nearly every business, whether in an urban or rural area, needs an accountant. With an accounting degree, one can choose where they want to live and perhaps their daily job requirements. Additionally, they can start their own practice or work for an organization.
4) In-Demand Occupation
Accountants are always in high demand. They are required for almost every business everywhere around the world. No matter where one wants to work and the area of accounting they undertake, they can always find work. Employment of accountants is projected to grow 6% from 2018 to 2028 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, the profession itself is experiencing a fast level of progression. In a few years, one can go from being a fresh college/university graduate to making a comfortable living.
5) Clear Job Path
Students studying accounting acquire practical skills in manipulating numbers and analyzing expenses for individuals and companies. That gives them a much clearer professional path than English or Philosophy students. People who study accounting have a solid idea of where the course will take them. While there are different types of accounting professionals, the duties they have and the skills they use are generally the same.
6) Potential for Professional Growth
Accounting students get to pick how far to take their education. But the higher the level, the more respectable and rewarding the role is likely to be. Luckily, even after a person has established the right role for them, there is always room for progression in accounting. After graduation, one can start as an entry-level associate with excellent potential for growth. Many graduates begin as staff accountants, junior auditors or assistants. After gaining work experience and getting established, professional advancement is achievable via on-the-job performance and advanced education or certifications.
7) Entrepreneurial Potential
Becoming an entrepreneur is not an option for every profession. For instance, it’s not likely for a pilot to launch his or her own airline. But many accountants start their own businesses routinely. Being one’s boss is a reality in the field of accounting and a great way to advance one’s professional path.
8) A Great Network
Based on one’s interests and job options, it’s possible to come into contact with different fields, businesses, and like-minded professionals. Whatever one’s professional goals are, public accounting can help them create a network of worthwhile business contacts. That can happen from the moment they begin their accounting degree to when they reach the peak of their profession.
With a multitude of options comes another benefit of being an accountant. The skills of an accountant are applicable to a wide variety of business-related fields. Many graduates have grown their careers to become chief executive officers of successful companies. An accounting degree also equips one for a profession in finance, auditing, taxation, and business.
10) Modern-day Work
Being an accountant in the modern era comes with many perks. Advancements in technology and software make the job easier, which allows accountants to focus on the finer aspects of decision-making. The profession itself is very different from stereotypical routine bookkeeping that many assume it to be.
10 Cons of Being an Accountant
1) Fierce Competition
While it’s true that there’s an ever-increasing need for accountants, the number of employers seeking graduates is also high. Competition is getting fiercer in the industry and higher qualifications like a Master’s degree are more common nowadays. It’s not easy to secure a decent starting wage in the current economic environment.
2) Hard Work is Necessary
Many people don’t enter accounting because of the hard work involved. It takes many hours, a passion for numbers, patience, and attention to detail. The profession entails great responsibility, yet it is prone to human error. Hence, some may find it tedious and demanding, particularly during tax season. Thus, accounting may not be suitable for those who are just in it for the money. It requires a genuine passion for it to be rewarding.
3) Educational Requirements
An accounting profession requires a lengthy education. One must pursue at least a 4-year Bachelor’s degree followed by an extra year or Master’s degree. Advanced education is not only costly but also a challenge for many. Consequently, a lot of determination and forward thinking is necessary in order to succeed.
4) Accompanying Certifications
For those who are aiming for a higher-paying occupation, it’s advisable to acquire CPA licensure. For that, one needs to study extensively, pass a difficult examination and gain experience. CPA certification may take as long as six months of extra studying, which might be challenging and stressful.
5) Work Hours
Working long hours is one of the hugest drawbacks of high-paying accounting jobs. That doesn’t typically apply for the whole year. But, during the taxation season, the workload is high, thus accountants usually have to work evenings and weekends.
6) Tedious Job
Interested candidates should have a high tolerance for mathematics and statistics. The profession involves handling plenty of financial statements and some of the tasks might appear routine and tedious. That’s why it’s essential for one to ensure that accounting is the right fit. People who are meticulous, patient and passionate about accounting tend to thrive. Accounting may not be ideal for anyone who is overly creative, because the role tends to be repetitive and monotonous.
7) Working in an Office
Accounting is a desk occupation, which is conducted on a computer. That might be a plus to some, but a drawback to other people. It’s essential for people working desk jobs to make extra effort to uphold a healthy lifestyle and exercise regularly.
Accountants are responsible for data entered in any financial statements and reports they sign. The data is always inspected for fraudulent activities by internal auditors. Moreover, accounting professionals often find themselves working without guidelines and under extreme pressure. That’s especially so during the busy tax season. Additionally, in big corporations, certain roles require accountants to juggle many business operations under multiple supervisors.
9) Work-life Balance
For high-level accounting positions, it might be hard to maintain a healthy work-life balance. In the tax season, an accountant might work for up to a maximum of 80 hours a week. Fortunately, in general, accounting is a 9-5 occupation. But, during stressful, busy times, accountants have to put in extra hours to meet deadlines.
10) The Profession Has a Bad Reputation
An unfair downside to becoming an accountant is the negative stereotypes some people hold about the occupation. Some see accountants as antisocial people who only like to solve math problems and analyze numbers. Other people view them as boring and non-creative.
Hopefully, the pros and cons above offer you a better idea of whether it’s the right profession for you. Studying accountancy is undeniably a no-nonsense fast track path that can lead to a high paying, secure, and respected role.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.