Why accountants are among best jobs in 2017

  • career advice
  • February 06, 2017
Number crunchers, take heart. Continued economic growth in the United States has created a strong job market for finance and accounting professionals — and accountants are one of the best in-demand jobs at all experience levels.

With a large number of accounting job openings across the United States, there was an average of 31 candidates per job opening in October 2016, making accounting jobs challenging to fill, according to Randstad research. The demand is expected to increase; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that accountants will experience double-digit growth through 2024.

Hiring managers are particularly interested in finding senior-level accountants with strong technology acumen and operational skills with hands-on experience implementing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. More senior-level accountants often serve in an advisory role.

Accountant duties and expectations

Rapidly evolving technology and the emergence of Big Data have generated a growing need for accounting professionals who can help design, integrate and implement software systems.

The best job opportunities will be for accountants who have an accounting degree and certified public accountant (CPA) license. Those with CPA credentials can expect to earn at least 10 to 15 percent more starting out than accountants without this much-desired certification, according to the American Institute of CPAs. And hiring managers often prefer a master’s degree or MBA.

Accountants monitor a business’s balance sheet, help clients prepare financial documents and file tax returns, offer guidance on how to comply with various financial regulations, and aid in a variety of other things. To provide this type of service, accountants and auditors need to be experts in their fields and have a detailed understanding of complex laws related to taxes and finance.

But accountants are no longer merely numbers people. Computer and information technology know-how is increasingly important as is an understanding of international financial rules. Technical skills are a given for accountants, but outstanding soft skills, including communication and analytical abilities, are also a must. Communication skills are crucial because accountants often serve as liaisons between staff and company executives.

Here are three popular specialties in accounting that you may want to consider for your future career.

Management accounting

An emerging specialization in accounting today is management accounting. Management accountants work in business instead of an accounting firm. Those who are most competitive are well-rounded and able to take on strategic, leadership roles. For those who have business acumen and can see beyond the numbers, management accounting can be a path to executive positions such as chief financial officer. These people often earn a certificate of management accountant (CMA).

Forensic accounting

Want to solve complex problems? Consider becoming a forensic accountant. These accounting professionals are called in on legal investigations involving finances. They study trails of electronic transactions to prove or disprove fraud, help with witness interviews and review documents and electronic records for suspect information. Forensic accountants are also asked to testify. The legal team uses their findings to help make their case.

Startups

Interested in working in a creative, vibrant environment where you can build something from the ground up? Consider working as an accountant at a technology startup. Helping lead a business to new heights requires a unique skill set, demanding flexibility and a thirst for learning. Accountants who thrive at startups are adaptable to change and able to learn quickly and change direction quickly.

This isn’t the best place for the risk averse. Between 75 percent and 90 percent of startups fail. If you are more cautious, joining a startup at a later stage (Series C or D funding and beyond) can greatly improve your odds for stability, but will also sacrifice the potential upside on the equity that you could earn.

2017 is a great time for skilled accountants at all levels and specialties to enter the job market. If you have solid tech experience and excellent soft skills, you will be in the driver’s seat.

Looking for a new career opportunity as an accountant? Search our website today for accounting jobs in your area.