Tips to Advance Your Accounting Career in 2020

Accounting is a popular career choice because accounting skills are always in demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are likely to be 1.54 million accounting jobs in the U.S. by 2026. This is 10 percent more than there were in 2016. 

Being an accountant offers job security, an attractive salary, and a growing number of opportunities for employment. Of course, there is a difference between the salaries of accountants in different jobs and at different seniority levels. Here’s how you can boost your career prospects. 

Find a mentor

Find a mentor with many years of experience in the field of accounting and who has faced similar issues and problems to the ones you’re experiencing. A mentor can offer valuable insights and give you the advice to prevent you from making mistakes that could affect your career trajectory. 

If you can’t decide on one mentor, it is quite acceptable to have more than one. For instance, one mentor may be able to provide advice in a specific area of accounting and another may be able to offer advice on advancing your career. 

Become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Becoming a CPA will give your career a boost as this qualification is widely recognized and highly respected. If you want to be a CPA, you need serious dedication, commitment and drive. 

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) sets and regulates the 4-part CPA exam, which is considered to be one of the most difficult professional exams. 

Each state has different requirements to become a CPA. For example, the general requirements to become a CPA in Ohio are that you have state residency, a Social Security number and 150 hours of semester credit, inclusive of a bachelor’s degree. 

Complying with the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) requirements laid down by state boards of accountancy is necessary to retain a CPA license. 

Develop your networking skills

Building up a network of valuable contacts can help with career advancement. If you devote time and effort to your contacts, you can build relationships with professionals who can offer you guidance and advice. 

If you have a vast network, one of the advantages is that it puts you in a better position when you’re looking for your next job. Many jobs aren’t even posted on job boards but are filled through referrals. 

Keep up with advances in technology

Technology is driving change in accounting practices. Cognitive computing, machine learning, high-speed analytics and big data are having an impact on the industry. This offers opportunities for accountants to learn new skills. Knowledge of data analysis, for example, could become a non-negotiable skill in the future for accountants. 

You should make it a point to enhance your existing expertise and gain new skills in your own time. Aim to become an early adopter instead of taking a wait-and-see approach. 

Cloud computing is a good place to begin because it is the foundation on which accounting technologies will depend in the future. The sooner you become comfortable about working anywhere and on any device, the more prepared you will be for what comes next. 

As with all industries, accounting is becoming a technology-driven profession. It is difficult for formal curriculums to keep up with the pace of change. Accountants who are committed to continued learning and ready to experiment with new tools are likely to have more opportunities for career growth than others. 

Accountants who adopt new technologies that can make them more productive and save time will remain competitive and be in demand for some of the top positions in the field.