An education in accounting can help you enter a long-term and stable career. There will be a need for accountants of all types as long as there are businesses. However, getting started in the field can be a challenge. With little to no work experience and few industry connections, figuring out how to find a job in accounting requires taking advantage of all resources available to you. Using university resources and searching diligently for opportunities are the keys to landing an accounting job.
Getting an Education
Get a degree. Today, the vast majority of accounting jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. If you don’t have a degree in accounting and want this to be your career, you should strongly consider one.
Some bookkeeping jobs and other entry level positions can be obtained with a two-year degree or even just a high school diploma, if you show a high aptitude for math.These jobs tend to be relatively low-paying, however.
Some employers will be looking for a candidate with a master’s degree in accounting or business administration. Some schools offer a five-year combined BA/MA program, and a program like this might be worth considering if you don’t already have a degree.
When asked, ‘What kind of math is used in accounting?
Kathy Duong, an attorney with over 25 years of experience, says: “It’s really just general addition and subtraction. When you put in money and pay bills, you subtract that from your cash balance. When someone pays you, you add it back. You don’t even need to multiply, unless someone gives you a lot of money. And these days, we use software that can calculate those things for you.”
Join Beta Alpha Psi. While you are in school, join your campus chapter of Beta Alph Psi, if there is one. This is the premiere honor and service society for aspiring accountants and other business information students.
Joining Beta Alpha Psi will look great on your resume, because it shows genuine interest in the field. It’s also a good way to network with others in the field–you never know when a connection can come in handy.
Build your skills and learn the business. A degree is very valuable, but having knowledge and experience is just as important as a diploma. Take every chance you get to learn about and get experience in the field.
Volunteer to help with accounting in your community, for your church, a local charity organization, or anyone else who can use your services. This gives you hands-on experience that will help you stand apart from other applicants.
By the same token, learn everything you can related to business and accounting. Familiarize yourself with a range of software tools used in accounting, such as Quickbooks. Learn about business models, and how companies make profits
Making Yourself a More Appealing Candidate
Clean up your resume. Before even beginning a job search, examine the strength of your resume. The formatting should be clean and professional. It must be well organized.
If you are a recent graduate from an accounting degree program but have no relevant work experience, place your education credentials near the top of your resume. Highlight school-related activities such as accounting societies or clubs.
Your resume should be no more than one page. Use your cover-letter and interviews to elaborate on details, not your resume.
Attend a career fair at your university. If you are a current student or a recent alumnus of a university, you should take full advantage of the career-building resources hosted there. Chief among these resources is the career fair. You should be going to these by your junior year.
The career fair is a great opportunity to learn more about the field and to make connections in the professional world.
Schools with prominent accounting programs or schools in major cities will often have a separate career fair just for accounting jobs.
Before attending the career fair, research the attending companies as thoroughly as possible. Knowing basic facts such as market capitalization, core strengths, and prominent clients will help you in your discussions with recruiters. If you can find out through their website which positions are available, you can explain why you’d be a good fit for their specific opening.
Its a good idea to follow up via a quick email with anyone you talk to at a career fair, thanking them for their insights and time. This will help them to remember you if you end up applying for jobs with their companies.
Join a professional organization in the accounting field. There are many professional organizations within this field, including the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), the Professional Accounting Society of America (PASA), and the American Accounting Association (AAA)
You can often join an organization like this through a university’s accounting department. These organizations host networking events that will allow you to meet and impress potential employers. Membership in an accounting organization also improves your resume.
Learn about different types of jobs you can do. There are many different jobs within and related to the field of accounting, ranging from bookkeepers and accounting clerks to financial analysts and corporate controllers. Spend some time online learning about the responsibilities and requirements of different positions.
This will help you be better informed on your applications and interviews, and can also save you time in the long run as you’ll be able to quickly sort out which positions you could be viable candidate for based on your education and experience.