One of the most important resources in any business, whether they are a full-time employee or simply work on a contractual basis, is the accountant.
The accountant keeps track of where money goes, measures profits and losses, and is a key player in rooting out waste in spending that is hampering the bottom line.
As they fill such an important position, accountants are always in demand. They also usually make a decent income, with a median income of $71,550 in fiscal year 2019.
If you’re looking to change careers, becoming an accountant can provide the income, lifestyle, and change that you desire. You may wonder how to become an accountant. The process is actually fairly straightforward.
If you’d like to learn the steps to becoming an accountant, you need only read on.
It won’t be surprising to you that the first step in starting your new life in accounting is to educate yourself on the matter. If you’re looking to do some basic accounting, you may not, depending on where you live, need any schooling at all.
However, if you’re going to advance your career, you will eventually need to go to a four-year college and get a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field.
Some may wonder, How many years does it take to become an accountant?
Sadly, there’s no easy answer to this question. If you’re looking to become an accountant, you may not need to spend any time chasing that goal, especially if you already have a college degree or a history of working in the field or a similar field.
If you’re looking to be a certified public accountant (CPA), you will need at least five years to achieve the goal, which includes the accounting education you will require.
A good place to start your education would be with a simple course that provides the very basic knowledge of what an accountant does, such as the course offered at Stratford Career Institute.
A course like this can provide you with a good overview of what being an accountant requires and help you begin your journey to becoming an employed accountant.
Choosing Your Career (Specialize)
While you may think that every accountant does the same work, the reality is that, much like those in the legal field, accountants specialize. You may opt to work with the public or with a business.
Whoever your clients are, you may provide environmental accounting services, managerial accounting services, internal auditing services, or even tax services (which are always very much in demand when April rolls around).
As an accountant, also sometimes known as a public accountant or PA, you will not have all the powers and responsibilities of a certified public accountant, or CPA. You also will not receive the same pay.
Once you’ve figured out your career path, it’s time to find a place to intern while you learn. This is a great way to gain experience, build a resume, and get your foot in the door. If you perform well during an internship, the company you intern for may offer you a job.
It’s important that you intern in the specialty of your choice, however.
If you want to work as a tax accountant for a corporation, you’re not going to find much use in your internship with an environmental accounting firm, spending your time attempting to calculate a business’s use of resources and externalities. The work is as dissimilar as corporate law and divorce law.
One great thing about your internship is that you may find out that you don’t actually enjoy what you thought you would as an accounting specialty.
It offers you the chance to make a change before you go out in the world with a resume filled with one sort of accounting work, seemingly bound to that career path for the rest of your life.
Get a Job
Now that you’ve learned a bit about the basics of accounting and have the internship under your belt, it’s time to look at getting a job as a public accountant!
As you work and advance your career, you can go from a very junior accountant to an accountant with years of experience and an impressive resume. However, that is still not the highest height you can reach in the world of accounting.
If you’re ready to dedicate more time to learning, you may want to go on to become a CPA, a CERTIFIED public accountant.
The main difference between a PA and a CPA is the amount of education they have in accounting, combined with the certification that the CPA holds, which allows them to do more complex work like performing audits and representing clients in front of the Internal Revenue Service.
In most states in the United States of America, becoming a CPA requires you to pass all four parts of the CPA exam.
The parts are Audit and Attestation, Financial Accounting and Reporting, Regulation, and Business Environment and Concepts. You will also have to meet certain requirements that PA’s don’t need to meet.
Become a Certified Public Accountant
If you decide to take your work in accounting to the level of a certified public accountant, you will be in for a lot of work. Most states set numerous requirements for anyone who wants to hold such a lofty title and position.
To begin with, you must have a four-year degree—a Bachelor of Science in accounting—to sit for the CPA exam. Anything less and they will not consider you.
The regulations differ from state to state, but this means also having a certain number of credit hours in actual accounting classes.
In many states, you also will need to show you worked under a CPA for a certain number of hours. Again, this number changes from state to state, but expect to need at least one full year’s work as a PA under the direction of a CPA.
Once you accomplish all this, you can sit for the CPA exam. If you pass, you will be at the top of the accounting profession.
Continue Your Education
Now that you’re a CPA, you may think life is good and you need never learn another thing about accounting in your specialty again.
However, as with all fields with government regulation, you must stay current with the ever-changing nature of laws, as well as ensuring you remain aware of best practices in the industry.
You’ll always be learning more about accounting and about how the laws changed around the business.
Explore Stratford’s Introductory Accounting Course
If you’re looking to reach these lofty (but attainable!) goals, the best thing you can do is get started with a base of knowledge that Stratford Career Institute can offer you. Enroll in our online accounting course to see if this career path is right for you!
This educational program is an introductory course designed to help students gain knowledge necessary for the vocational application of this subject. Completion of a Stratford Career Institute program does not fulfill the legal requirements of particular state licenses or certifications, which may require additional training or apprenticeships.
Become an Accountant!
Stratford Career Institute offers a comprehensive learning course that can set you on the right path to becoming an accountant.