4 Ways to Develop and Advance in Your Accounting Career

When it comes to a career that’s interesting, pays well, and has a positive job outlook, it’s hard to beat accounting.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for accountants in 2020 was just over $73,000 annually. Not only that, but employment rates for both accountants and auditors are expected to grow 7% over the course of the next decade, with about 135,000 openings projected each year.

These enticing statistics, combined with a love of numbers and finances, have inspired many people to enter this dynamic field. To develop and grow in your career as much as possible, consider the following words of advice:

1. Never Stop Learning

Accountants who are already working in the field have likely earned an accounting degree, but to improve your performance, you may want to further your knowledge by obtaining a graduate certificate in accounting. Fortunately, those who are working full time can achieve this goal by enrolling in an online accounting degree program. By and large, online programs tend to offer more convenience and are often easier to fit into people’s busy lives compared to attending a traditional university — and a graduate certificate in accounting will take your level of accounting to the next level. As a bonus, the credits earned in online accounting degree programs can often be transferred to an MBA in Accounting program, should you wish to pursue this degree one day.

2. Stay Current with Technology

Gone are the days when accountants worked with paper ledgers. Nowadays, people in all areas of accounting use computer programs like Excel, Oracle, QuickBooks Enterprise, Xero, and many other types of professional accounting software. Learn whichever systems or programs your employer utilizes, and always be ready to stay up to date on new developments and features.

3. Keep an Eye Out for In-House Promotions

Many employers will promote from within as part of the company policy. If you’re ready to advance your career in accounting, check your company’s internal job board on a regular basis to look for other higher-level positions. As an example, someone working as a bookkeeping clerk may want to apply for a supervisor role in the financial department. When applying for a new position, be sure to mention a degree or advanced certificate you earned on your own time, as well as any skills that set you apart from other applicants.

4. Find a Mentor

Another way to advance in your accounting career is to find and work with a mentor who has, as the saying goes, “been there, done that” for a number of years. It may be a family friend or relative, a trusted tax advisor, or a chief financial officer of a large corporation who you met at a networking event. See if any of these people would be willing to mentor you and then schedule some casual meetings over coffee or lunch where you can talk about your goals, ask for advice, and listen to your mentor’s thoughts about the accounting industry and getting ahead.

You’ve Got What It Takes to Get Ahead

While it’s definitely great that you’ve found a job in a field that you truly enjoy, you don’t have to settle for staying in your current position for years to come. By realizing that the accounting field is full of educational opportunities — both through a certificate program and learning about technology — staying aware of in-house promotions, and working with a mentor, you should start to advance in your career more easily.

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