“If my father had hugged me even once, I’d be an accountant right now.”
Ray Romano, Actor
Pros and Cons of Working as an Accountant
You think about becoming an accountant? Great! However, before making your final decision, you should check out all the pros and cons of being an accountant in this article.
Chances are that you may change your mind and go for an alternative career path instead. Without further ado, let’s get right into it!
Being an Accountant – Key Facts
|Short Job Description||Accountants make sure that all tasks around bookkeeping are carried out in a proper manner. They also sometimes perform financial audits.|
|Salary||$60,000 per year on average, ranging from $48,000 – $95,000.|
|Job Security||Decent job security.|
|Job Satisfaction||Decent job satisfaction.|
|Work-Life Balance||Good work-life balance.|
|Physically / Mentally Demanding?||Mentally demanding job.|
|Future Outlook||Good since there will be a lack of qualified accountants who can keep up with latest developments.|
Advantages of Being an Accountant
- Accountants often have a regular work week
- You can earn decent amounts of money
- Accountants work with many different departments
- You can start your own accounting firm
- Being an accountant allows you to work with numbers
- You can build a strong business network
- Accountants can work for many different companies
- You can get into leading positions
- You can work with motivated people
- You can work indoors
- Accountants are crucial for businesses to work
- High level of job security
- You can learn a lot as an accountant
- Good work-life balance
- You may be able to work from home
- You don’t have to work on weekends or holidays
- Additional benefits
Accountants often have a regular work week
One advantage of being an accountant is that you will have a regular work week most often. Sure, in busy times, you may have to work more than 40 hours. However, outside of busy season, accountants have a rather relaxed work schedule and you will often work a standard 9 to 5 week.
Consequently, also the level of stress that comes along with being an accountant is rather low for the majority of the year and if you search for an ambitious career which still implies rather low levels of stress and workload, working as an accountant can be the right way to go for you.
You can earn decent amounts of money
Accountants can also earn decent amounts of money. The average accountant in the US makes around 70,000 dollars a year. Depending on the state you live in, it can even be much more and some accountants even make a six-figure income after just a few years.
Hence, if you want to live a fancy lifestyle with plenty of material things, a career as an accountant can also help you out in this regard.
However, make sure that you not only become an accountant just because of the money since doing work just for money will never make you happy.
Instead, you should also be interested in this field so that you can be happy in the long run.
Accountants work with many different departments
Another upside of being an accountant is that you can work with many different people inside your company. Quite often, you will have to discuss certain numbers that seem strange or implausible to you with other departments who have to report those numbers to you.
This also means that you get to know many different people during your career as an accountant. In turn, your work can be quite interesting since you will never exactly know how people react to your requests and sometimes, you also have to handle rather tense situations.
While this can imply a certain level of discomfort, it also enables you to learn how to deal with difficult people and this skill is crucial to succeed not only in business, but also in various other parts of life.
You can start your own accounting firm
Once you become more experienced, you can even start your own accounting company. In fact, many accountants work for a company for a few years, gain plenty of expert knowledge in their field and then switch to self-employment.
Thus, even if you know that you never want to work for a company in the long run, it can still make sense to get an accounting degree and work for the first few years as an employee. After this period of time, you will have the knowledge to start your own business.
However, please note that running your own business might be much harder than you currently think and for most people, it will still be much easier and more comfortable to work for a company instead.
Being an accountant allows you to work with numbers
Becoming an accountant can be great for you if you really love to work with numbers. If you are the analytical type of person as I am, working with numbers will come to you quite naturally. While many people don’t have this skill, you will see patterns and find mistakes in balance sheets much faster and your workday will also be much more relaxed due to that.
Consequently, you should ask yourself whether you have a certain level of talent regarding dealing with numbers and also if you like to do so. If the answer is yes, an accounting career could be a great way to go for you.
You can build a strong business network
Another benefit of becoming an accountant is that you can also build a pretty strong business network. Since you will talk to many different people from different departments to clarify numbers and to avoid certain accounting issues, chances are that you will become really good friends with some of your colleagues over time.
While some of your close connections will stay normal employees, others will get into leading positions inside the company sooner or later. If you know enough people in leading positions, your own chances for promotions will increase significantly. In fact, a strong business network is often more important than your performance.
Thus, make sure that you build a strong network during your accounting career if you aspire to a leading role inside your company.
Accountants can work for many different companies
In general, your opportunities are almost endless when it comes to the companies you can work for as an accountant. Every company needs accountants, it doesn’t matter if we are talking about rather small companies or multinational corporations.
Since there is an ever-growing demand for accountants and the supply of accounting work is rather limited, you will have the freedom of choice regarding the company you want to work for in many regions.
Consequently, becoming an accountant can also be great if you don’t know exactly for whom you want to work for and if you want to keep many different options.
You can get into leading positions
Accountants also have good chances to get into leading positions inside a company. Since they have plenty of expert knowledge regarding how to read and analyze a balance sheet, good accountants are often respected inside a company, especially when it comes to leading the financial side of things.
Hence, if you aspire to a leading role inside your company, starting out as an accountant can be the right way to go for you if you are willing to work hard and to network properly throughout your career.
You can work with motivated people
Since accounting is a rather competitive field and people have to get degrees and additional qualifications, chances are that you will meet many good and motivated people throughout your career. And don’t get confused. Many people think that only boring and nerdy people work in accounting.
In fact, this is not true at all and you will meet a huge variety of different characters and personalities. People who work in accounting can be great to hang out with and you should not be deterred by stories you might have heard in this regard.
You can work indoors
Another advantage of becoming an accountant is that you can work indoors and don’t have to work outdoors in the cold or on extremely hot summer days. In fact, working outdoors will not be fun under those extreme conditions at all, yet many people simply have no choice.
For instance, a construction worker who has to fix a street has to do that, it doesn’t matter whether there are rather moderate temperatures outside or if temperatures exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
In contrast, as an accountant, you can enjoy a rather comfortable work environment in your office and can use air conditioning or heating whenever you need it.
Accountants are crucial for businesses to work
While some people still belittle accounting work, accountants are crucial to keep a business running. In fact, it is impossible to run a business without having good accountants since companies have many accounting standards to meet and will have to pay huge fines if they don’t comply with those rules and regulations.
Thus, as an accountant, you can be sure that you are important to your company and that the company you work for will be lost without your work and the work of other ambitious accountants.
High level of job security
In general, accountants also have a rather high level of job security. Many people simply don’t want to do the job of an accountant since they are not good at dealing with numbers and also since there are various degrees and certificates you have to get to work as an accountant.
In turn, the number of highly-qualified accountants is rather limited and the demand for those people is high and will likely continue to be high in the future.
Therefore, if you search for high job security, an accounting career can also be a great way to go for you in this regard.
You can learn a lot as an accountant
Due to the many contacts you will have with different departments and the high level of responsibility you will get right after college, you will also learn many important skills as an accountant pretty early on in your career.
Especially during your first years, you can really build a solid foundation of expert knowledge and soft skills and this can greatly help you during the next decades of your professional life.
Good work-life balance
Most accountants also have a pretty good work-life balance. While there can be plenty of work during busy season, you will have a rather relaxed time for most of the year. In fact, many accountants are able to work a standard workweek and will still have enough time to play with their kids and to make weekend trips with their family.
They are also able to take out their spouse to fancy restaurants during the evening. The combination of money and the level of leisure you can have as an accountant is great in many companies and if work-life balance is really important to you, becoming an accountant can also be great for you.
You may be able to work from home
Teleworking has become increasingly popular over the past decade. Many people just don’t want to commute to an office every morning. In fact, it is much more convenient to just stay at home and use video conferences instead.
As an accountant, you will often be able to work from home since you will have access to all necessary data thanks to the internet and cloud networks. Of course, this will mainly be true for bigger corporations.
Small companies often still struggle with technological progress and you may have to go to work in an old-fashioned manner.
Hence, choose your employer wisely so that you can also enjoy the benefits of teleworking as an accountant.
You don’t have to work on weekends or holidays
Accountants also have the luxury that they usually don’t have to work on weekends or holidays. While some of your friends may have to work during those times, you can just spend your weekends in nice places with your family and also celebrate holidays with your loved ones instead of having to work in a tedious job.
Apart from the numerous benefits already mentioned above, there are also some additional benefits for accountants in many big companies. In fact, firms often offer decent retirement and unemployment benefits. Also additional payments for health insurance are quite common.
Of course, your company will only be willing to pay for all of that if you are good at what you are doing and if you provide a certain amount of value to the company.
However, if you are an ambitious employee who is willing to work hard, you can really benefit from those additional important goodies.
Disadvantages of Being an Accountant
- Hard to become rich as an accountant
- Being an accountant can be boring
- Accountants have to sit in front of a computer all day long
- Lack of social interaction
- Time pressure can be enormous
- You always have to adapt to new regulations and guidelines
- Rather standardized workday as an accountant
- Different accounting standards in different countries
- You need a talent to work with numbers
- College degree required
- You have to get additional ongoing education
Hard to become rich as an accountant
While there are many upsides of becoming an accountant, there are still some issues related to this career path. For example, one disadvantage of being an accountant is that you will simply not become rich most of the time.
Of course, accountants can earn really good money and some of them will even earn more than 100,000 dollars a year.
However, if you really want to become not only wealthy but also rich, you should still rather become a doctor or a lawyer instead.
Being an accountant can be boring
There are people out there who really like accounting work. However, many people also find it pretty boring to work with numbers all day long. Thus, you should make sure to take an honest look in the mirror and ask yourself what you really like to do for many years or even decades.
If you are the type of person who loves analyzing things and to make sure that the company meets all the rules and regulations supervisory authorities require them to meet, chances are that you will like the job as an accountant.
However, if you are a rather creative person who wants to invent or develop things, chances are that you will be far better off by choosing a different career path instead.
Accountants have to sit in front of a computer all day long
Another downside of working as an accountant is that you will have to sit in an office in front of a computer all day long. Many people just don’t like office jobs since there is often a pretty artificial atmosphere. Moreover, we as humans have just not evolved to be suitable for working in an office.
We had been hunters and gatherers for many thousands of years and office work has just been introduced quite recently. Hence, the long-term effects of sitting in front of a screen all day long are yet to be seen and I am personally rather skeptical about this development.
Thus, you should also ask yourself if you are willing to work in an office for the rest of your life or if you are rather the type of person who needs a certain level of exercise during work.
Lack of social interaction
As an accountant, you may also miss social interaction. Of course, you will talk to many people from different departments. Yet, those conversations will often be rather shallow and will often be solely based on the topic. Quite often, accountants will also work on their own since they have to analyze balance sheets and have to focus all their attention on this task.
Consequently, if you are the type of person who loves to interact with people and to have pretty interesting conversations on a regular basis, you may also want to look out for different career opportunities instead.
Time pressure can be enormous
While accountants often have a rather relaxed life in normal times, time pressure can be enormous during busy season. Especially during the winter month of the year, accountants often have plenty of work since annual financial statements have to be finalized.
Thus, be prepared to work some extra hours as an accountant during this time of the year.
You always have to adapt to new regulations and guidelines
Another disadvantage of being an accountant is that you will always have to adapt to new rules and guidelines regulators will come up with. In fact, there will always be changes and regulators will adjust legal frameworks on a regular basis.
You as an accountant will have to adjust and learn about those changes as well so that you can assure that the company you work for meets all those standards.
Hence, if you are the kind of person who doesn’t want to learn and to adjust but rather love the status quo, accounting work may also not be suitable for you in this regard.
Rather standardized workday as an accountant
In general, the work of an accountant is often also rather standardized and your daily routine will be the same for most days of the year. Especially in big companies, there will not be much room for individualism. Instead, employees will just be forced to carry out their daily standardized work, similar to robots.
Hence, becoming an accountant may also not be a good way to go for you if you want to have high levels of excitement in your job.
Different accounting standards in different countries
There are also many different rules and regulations in the accounting world. If you are an accountant in one country, it doesn’t mean that you will be able to work as an accountant in other countries since accounting standards often differ quite a lot.
Thus, you will often be confined to work in the country you have built detailed accounting know-how and this knowledge will often not be fully transferrable to other regions of our planet.
You need a talent to work with numbers
As an accountant, you will also not become happy if you don’t have a certain talent for analyzing numbers. Sure, you can learn this up to a certain point. However, you will really struggle during busy times if you don’t see patterns in numbers.
Therefore, make sure that you have a certain talent in this regard before becoming an accountant since you might end up pretty unhappy otherwise.
College degree required
You will also need extensive education for becoming an accountant. You certainly have to go to college and many companies even require you to have a Master’s degree. Hence, be prepared that you have to spend many years in college for getting this degree and that you may even have to take on student debt which you will have to pay back later on in your life.
You have to get additional ongoing education
Apart from your college degree, there are certain other accounting certificates that employers like to see. This includes the CPA (certified public accountant), CFA (chartered financial analyst) and other certificates you can get.
As you can see, there is always room for improvement in the accounting world and solely holding a college degree will often not be enough if you aspire to a demanding corporate accounting career.
Top 10 Being an Accountant Pros & Cons – Summary List
|Being an Accountant Pros||Being an Accountant Cons|
|Accountants can earn good money||Being an accountant can be boring|
|Good job if you like to work with numbers||You have to be good with numbers|
|Accountants can work for many firms||Busy season can be demanding|
|You can work with different departments||Accounting rules differ across countries|
|You often have a regular workweek||Accountants need a college degree|
|You can start your own accounting firm||Additional certificates required|
|Good work-life balance as an accountant||Rather standardized workday|
|You don’t have to work on weekends||Lack of social interaction|
|Accountants can work indoors||You have to work in an office job|
|You can get into leading positions||Time pressure can be enormous|
Should You Become An Accountant?
As you can see from the previous analysis, there are numerous advantages and disadvantages of being an accountant.
It is on you to evaluate all the pros and cons of becoming an accountant carefully so that you can make the right decision for you in line with your personal abilities and preferences.
If you want to learn even more about the life of an accountant, also make sure to have a look at my accountant job profile on salaries, job prospects, educational requirements and much more.
Also make sure to check out the following articles:
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.
This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.
Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.
I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.
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