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Planning Steps for a Career in Accounting

A career in accounting is a smart choice. The industry is expected to grow, the median salary is high, and there is a demand for qualified accountants. Planning ahead is vital if you want to create a foundation for a successful career path as an accountant. The accounting field is more diverse than you may expect, with opportunities to apply your skills in many different areas.

On the most basic level, accountants keep and inspect financial accounts for individual clients, companies or government institutions. With more education and experience you can become certified and this gives you greater opportunities to advance your career.

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Start at high school

In high school, taking certain subjects such as mathematics and mathematics-related subjects are obviously important. The more you can develop your maths skills the better and taking courses in computers and business can also help you in the future.

Earn the right degree

To get into accounting jobs and related fields, you usually need a bachelor's degree. It is a minimum requirement for those who plan on becoming a certified public accountant (CPA).

In the course of your degree, you'll take accounting courses as well as many other related ones such as statistics and economics. Some programs offer internships with accounting firms to gain practical experience.

If you're planning to become a CPA, you will need 150 college credit hours. Earning a master's degree can give you the extra credit hours but you can also take the opportunity to pursue an MBA or a certificate in another related field.

Take the CPA Exam

Accountants who want to file documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission must be CPAs. Many employers also require CPAs for management positions and work of a higher level.

Passing all four parts of the CPA exam is necessary and must occur within 18 months of passing the first test. Due to the degree of difficulty, most CPA test candidates prep for the licensure exam by enrolling in private test preparation courses.

Decide what area of accounting to pursue

Accountants are needed in almost every business across all sectors and you need to decide where you will fit best. The two general areas of specialization are corporate accounting or public accounting and there are many different sub-specializations.

You will need to decide whether you want to be an accountant or a certified public accountant (CPA). Accountants can perform various financial tasks, such as preparing financial statements and tax returns but they are not permitted to conduct an audit or review financial statements.

To become a CPA, you have to earn a bachelor's degree, pass the CPA exam and work for a set number of hours under a licensed CPA.

In making a decision on what area of accounting to pursue, you need to assess your personal goals, strengths and weaknesses. You need to decide what type of work environment you'd thrive in and decide whether you're willing to put in the amount of time and effort required if you want to be a CPA.

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Find an entry-level job

Before graduating, you should already be trying to find an accounting internship. Prepare your resume and create a profile on LinkedIn. Networking on social media and attending career-related events can open up opportunities for you. Visit sites specially created for new graduates like collegerecruiter.com.

Once you've landed a job, it's time to start gaining experience and continuing your education. You will need to earn credits to keep your certification and license. It is also important to always keep learning and stay abreast of any changes in the accounting industry.

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