During the recession of the last few years, a number of professions were hit particularly hard by the tough economic times. Manufacturing, construction, and architecture suffered the greatest losses, leading to the coining of the term “mancession,” in recognition of the fact that those are heavily male-dominated industries.
Fortunately, those in the accounting profession found themselves largely insulated from the recession. So chances are pretty good you remained employed throughout the past several years. You may have even landed a new job or emerged from college to find companies standing in line to sign you up. Congratulations! You’re doing great.
When it comes to the accounting profession, however, landing a job is just the first half of the battle. Making your way to the top will take at least 10 to 15 years. That’s why you need to have a plan for parlaying a bright beginning into a long, storied career.
As you build your credentials, you must take the necessary steps to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Many firms will hire entry-level candidates who don’t possess the CPA designation. Oftentimes, they will even support you in pursuing that goal. But don’t even think about moving up in your career if the five-year mark comes and you have not yet earned your CPA certification. Without it, your career will stall and you won’t be positioned to place your foot upon that coveted next rung.
If you apply for a new job, either internally or externally, the CPA designation will often serve as a tie-breaker. When choosing between two otherwise equal candidates, the one who has taken the time and initiative to earn the CPA credential will more often than not be the one who gets the nod.
Additional certifications, such as Certified Fraud Examiner, Certified Cash Manager, and Certified Management Accountant, will only benefit you in the long run. After all, the accounting field loves certifications. The more you can rightfully claim to have, the more promising a future – and a paycheck – you will have, particularly as you climb the corporate ladder.
If your ultimate goal is to make partner at a public accounting firm, be prepared to pay your dues. It can take an average of 13 years to become a partner. The closer you get to partner status, the more important communication and managerial skills become, as does networking. Perhaps most important is the ability to bring in new clients and develop relationships.
If you’re a homebody, you should forget about making partner altogether. The willingness to travel to client sites, domestically and internationally, is a prerequisite for any accounting professional eying the executive suites. You’ll also need to hone your presentation skills, as you will need to demonstrate your thought leadership and in-depth knowledge.
Need help with your financial job search? Contact Daley and Associates. We offer superior recruiting and placement results, specializing in auditing and financial placement.