You are on page 1of 8

Running head: Career Research Paper

Career Research Paper


Amy Carpenter
BUS 1010 Salt Lake Community College
December 1, 2015

Running head: Career Research Paper

Career Research Paper


Financial Accounting
Accounting is a well-known and respected field to join, but how hard is it to
actually become one? In this paper, we will focus on the education required, average salary for
an entry level accountant, as well as the pros and cons of working in the field that I have
specified. In addition I will address the outlook of an accountant in the future job market to help
analyze how well one would fit within a finance career. In addition, I have also had the chance to
speak with a family member who is currently working in the accounting field. I discussed with
her how her experiences starting out in the field lead her to where she is today.
Job Description of an Accountant
The roles of an accountant are tightly intermingled with an auditor. Accountants
of a business are essential for a company to compile and create financial statements. Auditors, on
the other hand, ensure that the information is presented fairly and correctly, and also ensure that a
company pays their taxes on time and in the correct amount. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014)
Accountants, shareholders, and possible future investors use the information gleaned from the
financial statements to compute how well a company is performing in relation to other
companies within the industry, and if there is any potential for growth. Accountants also help
provide information within the company to help management determine if any new acquisitions,
such as equipment, land or buildings, will occur during the next year and if they can afford it
with the cash that they have available.
General Career Path

Running head: Career Research Paper

As far as education goes, an accountant will need to complete a four year


Bachelors Degree in Finance, Business or some other similar field. Most graduates upon
completion of their degree will revise and prepare for a state test to become a Certified Public
Accountant, or a CPA. This test is similar to the bar exam for lawyers because it is separate from
a colleges education program and it is significantly more extensive. If you have enough
experience and knowledge to complete the CPA exam without completing an additional four
years of college. As stated earlier, however, most graduates will take the CPA exam within a year
of completing their college degree. Dont mistakenly think that that CPA exam is a walk in the
park. It is a four part exam and requires most graduates almost a year of intensive review. From
there, there are many different factions of finance that you could choose from. The two most
common paths lead to tax accounting or financial/managerial accounting. You can work within a
company or be hired through an accounting firm. There are four major accounting firm in the
world also known as the Big Four which are comprised of Deliotte, Pricewaterhouse Coopers,
Ernst & Young, and Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler. (Big 4 Accounting Firms, 2015) These
companies provide an independent and unbiased system of accounting for companies. For
example, Pricewaterhouse Cooper was responsible for the 2014 annual financial report of IBM.
There are many places where a CPA can fit into the business world such as financial forensics,
business valuation, personal financial advising, and IT consulting to name just a few. (CPA
Career Paths, 2015) So, regardless of your interests, thankfully there are many opportunities for
promotion and find just right where you belong.
General Education Experience
As we previously discussed, education needed to enter into an entry level
position is a Bachelors Degree in Business, Accounting or a similar field. Generally, it is

Running head: Career Research Paper

recommended to have some sort of related job while still in school to help gain experience as
well as an education at the same time and increase the chances of a company hiring a candidate.
Having some other type of post college certification such as a CPA will allow a greater chance of
being hired.
Average Salary
As with any job within any industry, pay is relative to the amount of
experience, certification and the skill set that you possess. The annual average salary for an
accountant according to the US Department of Labor is around $67,989 in 2014 which happens
to be 3% above the national average annual salary. (US Department of Labor Accountant Salary,
2015)
Career Outlook
The career outlook for accountants is positive and looking up. While there is
always a demand for skilled professionals, companies are now looking to hire entry level
accountants which they can groom to their specifications as well as skilled and experienced
professionals to serve in senior accountant position. (Accounting & Financial Womens Alliance,
2014)

Other jobs in demand include a certified finance analyst, internal auditors, and

management accountant. Most companies are looking to recruit entry level accountants in major
cities, such as Chicago, on East Coast as well as California. (Randstad, 2015)
Biography of my Acquaintance
In an effort to understand more about the general education experience and
career path one takes to become an accountant, I interviewed my aunt, Jeanette Carpenter. I had
the chance to sit down and ask a few questions about how she got into her career. She said that it

Running head: Career Research Paper

started with a Bachelors Degree in Business and shortly after she completed the CPA exam and
was hired with West Valley City to manage and prepare employees payroll. She stayed in payroll
for several years after which she was consulted by the budget director of West Valley City at that
time. After a few years of consulting, and working with the budget director, she had the
opportunity to move up into the seat of budget director as the previous employee was looking to
retire. Since then she has been in charge of creating the budget plan for the city.
When I asked her if there was anything that she would do differently she said
that going into accounting has such a wide array of positions that you can fill. She said to keep
an open mind and be willing to try something out of your comfort zone. Who knows, you may
even find something that you like, and you can be good at! she said.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Becoming an Accountant
There are many benefits of pursuing an accounting career such as job security.
As long as there is an economy with businesses flourishing and growing, there will always be a
need for accountants. In addition accountants, such as tax accountants, can work as a consultant
or temporary employee. Having such flexibility would be ideal for a mother or someone who
enjoys the work but doesnt want to do it full time or cant work in a 9-5 position. Accounting is
also very detailed oriented, and very organized and because of this, employees who like having a
very strict schedule or set of objectives to complete will thrive the most.
Another benefit of becoming an accountant is that there isnt a designated
region where you would have to be tied down. For example, actors would find more success in
California or in New York, but probably wont be able to be cast for many jobs if they are based
out of Idaho. Much like the healthcare system, there will always be places where you can go.

Running head: Career Research Paper

Although it is easy to go work in another location, there are international rules and principles that
must be followed and may require extra training. After you have the extra training, you can
possibly work anywhere in the world. (Eriksen, 2014)
In addition, there is a great potential for growth within a company. As we
examined earlier, companies are interested in hiring entry level accountants so they can groom
them to how they want things to be done. These accountants as well as any accountant has the
possibility of being promoted. Typically there are promotions within a company after 2 years of
working. There is much opportunity to apply your financial skills in another department as well.
For example, my uncle worked for Pricewaterhouse Cooper as an accountant for a few years but
was eventually recruited to work for the CIA as a computer programmer of all things.
Unfortunately that is all I know about his advancement from accounting to programming due to
his confidential position but it goes to show how you can use your degree to advance or to have a
career change.
There are some drawbacks, however, to becoming an accountant. While there
are different areas that you can apply your finance skill set, it can be a redundant and boring
position. You have to have extreme attention to detail as well as being able to handle the stress
that naturally comes with the end of the fiscal year and the preparation of financial statements.
Besides the end of fiscal year stress, the rest of the year is pretty normal 9-5 type job. Thankfully
you wont have to worry about taking home your work, but that doesnt exclude working long
hours at the office on occasion.
Conclusion

Running head: Career Research Paper

Knowing the drawback and benefits of the career path that I have chosen, I can
say that I may be able to thrive in an accounting position. I do like numbers and I do like
organization. To be honest, I sometimes not be very detailed oriented, and I most likely will not
have my creative needs met by the redundant work that accounting offers. While accounting
offers some problem solving situations, I feel as though I would get bored quickly. I want to see
if there is a branch where I could thrive in more than other areas, which will inevitably require
that I investigate further into the accounting world. Perhaps I would work well with accounting
with a small company where I can make connections with all the employees. Upon review, I
notice that there is some pressure within my family to pursue a career in the accounting or
computer science departments. Both my father and uncle are in programming, and my aunt and
other uncle are in more budgeting and IT services. While I like math I need to really sit down
and consider all the options available to me. I enjoy film editing and it does satisfy my need for
change with the constant new projects, but I find that the film industry is lucrative and somewhat
inflexible with location unless I become a freelancing video editor. Overall, pursuing a Business
Degree will start me in the right direction where, hopefully, I will be able to find my niche.

Running head: Career Research Paper

Sources
2015's Best Finance and Accounting Jobas and Their Salaries. (2015, Jan 13).
Retrieved from Randstad: https://www.randstadusa.com/workforce360/jobsthe-economy/finance-accounting-jobs-in-demand-for-2015/256/
Accountants and Auditors. (2014, Jan 8). Retrieved from Bureau of Labor Statistics:
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm
Big 4 Accounting Firms. (2015). Retrieved from Accounting Universe:
http://www.accountingverse.com/articles/big-4-accounting-firms.html
Carpenter, J. (2015, November 15). (A. Carpenter, Interviewer)
CPA Career Paths. (2015, Oct 15). Retrieved from American Institute of CPA's:
http://www.aicpa.org/CAREER/CAREERPATHS/Pages/CareerPaths.aspx
Eriksen, K. (2014, Jul 8). 9 Must-Know Pros and Cons of an Accounting Career.
Retrieved from Rassmussen College:
http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/business/blog/must-know-pros-consaccounting-career/
Salary Guide Forsees a Cheery Future for Accounting and Finance Professionals.
(2014, Nov 24). Retrieved from Accounting & Financal Women's Alliance:
http://www.afwa.org/2014/11/24/cheery-future-for-accounting-andfinance/#.Vky3VPlViko
US Department of Labor Accountant Salary. (2015). Retrieved from US Department
of Labor: https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/US-Department-of-LaborAccountant-Salaries-E31248_D_KO23,33.htm