Factors Influencing Incoming Freshmen to Major in Accounting
Incoming freshmen have career ambitions whose ultimate goal is to become organizational managers in leading corporations in both the private and public sectors. Therefore, they need to major in accounting to enable them to achieve their dreams. For example, after majoring in management accounting, freshmen develop professional knowledge and skills to prepare and/or present financial information in a way that makes it possible to arrive at essential decisions on policy formulation, planning, and control. Hence, management accounting constitutes an important tool for making decisions in an organization from which freshmen with the ambitions of becoming organizational managers cannot shun away. Indeed, management accounting provides and facilitates the deployment of accounting information by various organizational managers to enable them to arrive at subtle decisions that can permit them to better their administration coupled with control functions. Controlling, directing, and monitoring are essential roles of any manager or a leader who wishes to work for any profit-making organization. Such roles cannot be accomplished without sufficient knowledge and understanding of accounting. The current business world has entrepreneurs who are seeking formal training that can enable them to initiate and run their businesses successfully. For example, during the start-up phase, entrepreneurs may deploy budgeting and capital investment techniques. However, in the case of a business in the mature phase, they may depend on cost management and quality control in making their ultimate decisions. Freshmen can acquire this knowledge and/or learn how it can practically apply by majoring in accounting.
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Traits and Characteristics that Indicate One is Good in Accounting
People good in accounting need to have various traits such as excellent communication, ability to think analytically, critically, and creatively, and the possession of strong moral, budgeting, and ethical standings (Camacho 318). Accountants have a responsibility to observe various ethical issues or concerns in their work. The Institute of Management Accountants prescribes proficiency, discretion, reliability, and trustworthiness as key ethical issues worth considering by all financial and accounting managers. Credibility requires accounting administrators to communicate objectively and fairly while disclosing important information for enhancing user understanding of reports, recommendations, and comments presented to them. Integrity encompasses an obligation for refusal to participate or conspire in deeds that discredit the accounting management line of work. Accounting uses various analytical tools to describe and project business operations and performance. Hence, those with quick mastery of arithmetic and probably analytical knowledge possess important characteristics that indicate they are good in accounting. Prescribing the current and future operational scenarios requires creativity and critical thinking. If one can visualize scenarios in life coming up with a number of alternatives before subjecting each of the options to a thorough analysis of loopholes and efficacy, such people have a trait that depicts them as good in accounting. Decision-making requires budgeting, which is a critical tool employed in managerial accounting to facilitate planning. Apart from planning, budgeting also facilitates control. For example, in an attempt to cope with the challenges of the recession, organizations use budgeting in their planning. Hence, strong budgeting skills indicate one’s capacity to handle accounting problems.
How Long Does It Take to Acquire an Accounting Degree and Further Education?
All people interested in pursuing careers in accounting must possess an accounting degree. Alternatively called auditors, accounting professionals’ career path typically involves an Associate’s Degree in accounting, an Undergraduate Degree, a Post-graduate Degree, and a PhD. The majority of employers hire accounting professionals who have finished their Bachelor’s or Undergraduate Degrees in accounting. Associate’s Degree programs take two years while a Bachelor’s Degree takes four academic years. These programs typically cover units on taxes, business administration, and economics. Nevertheless, students can also complete their Bachelor’s Degree programs in three years. Such students need to apply for accelerated degree courses. This arrangement requires students to maintain certain minimum performance credentials. Those wishing to increase their accounting knowledge have to spend more time learning. Master’s Degree in accounting or business administration takes two years with one of the admission requirements being having acquired a Bachelor’s Degree in accounting. Further studies in the profession take two or three years to acquire a Doctorate Degree. These accounting studies are an important criterion that employers use to promote workers to high decision-making positions. Moreover, acquiring academic degrees in accounting constitutes only one of the milestones for becoming an accountant professional. Graduates need to enroll in professional bodies. For example, to successfully file reports with the US securities exchange commission, graduates must have CPA accreditation (Gabbin and Browning 38). The official approval requires one to complete150 semesters of study hours in an accounting training college. This requirement involves 30 extra hours compared to the normal Bachelor’s Degree training. The requirement can only be fulfilled through a five-year study program in Bachelor’s Degree training. Master’s and PhD qualifications are not a requirement for CPA accreditation.
The 5 Top Jobs for Accounting Major
Accounting careers constitute a major occupation with incredible opportunities, both now and in the future. Indeed, the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics presents the profession as a leading field for all those wishing to establish and grow a promising career over the next decade. The bursting of bubbles, the alteration of taxation laws, the closing of corporations, and new openings reveal this possibility. Some accounting careers are growing faster relative to others. This situation puts some occupations in accounting at a higher hierarchy. The accounting field has numerous specialties, which range from bookkeeping to very complex appraisals and analysis. Modern accountants engage in activities such as cost computation, the evaluation of efficiencies in new technological developments, and the engagement in acquisitions and merger processes. Such accountants can be classified as public administrators, internal auditors, or government and management accountants (Dalton et al. 214). In the accounting major, leading jobs may be rated using salary criterion, demand longevity, and prospects. Based on these three criteria, internal auditing, compliance executives, financial analysis jobs, staff accounting, and external inventory keeping are the best five occupations in accounting majors.
Responsibilities and Functions of Each Job
Each of the jobs has different responsibilities and functions. Internal auditing involves working to improve organizational controls (Dalton et al. 213). This job checks the compliance of an organization with various mandates related to newly imposed government regulations and policy directives. Internal auditors perform functions, including the evaluation and monitoring of operations’ effectiveness, the assessment of the accuracy of financial reports, and fraud investigation. In other words, internal auditors are instrumental in ensuring corporate governance (Zvavahera and Ndoda 2). Compliance executives have the responsibility of protecting organizational shareholders coupled with the public from an accounting error and/or fraudulent activity. They work in banks, insurance companies, pension funds, security investment organizations, and mutual funds among other fields. Financial analysts play the function of reading financial statements, conducting analyses on commodity prices, and carrying out reviews of expenses, sales, taxation rates, and costs. Their main responsibility entails determining the current value of a business or future earnings. The study industry trends, including competition. Staff accountants have the responsibility of ensuring accurate compilation of financial information. They also make journal entries in companies’ accounts as an added responsibility for conducting accounting reconciliations. External auditors are independent accounting professionals. Their responsibility and functions entail going on particular locations to conduct reviews of records. They then make the appropriate recommendations based on aspects such as the completeness and clarity of financial statements. Therefore, they function as investigators of possible misstatements that may lead to fraud. Such functions are executed when taxation authorities and the government bring potential concerns to them.
Roles of Accounting in the United States’ Economy
Accounting plays a huge role when it comes to budgeting, cost management, appraisals, and corporate accountability and governance, and quality control in the economy of the United States. The case of Southwest Airlines explains this role. At the company, budgeting constitutes an important aspect of the planning process. Accountants outline their financial plans. Accountants in the company have the responsibility of developing or participating in the making of budgets that incorporates all aspects of any ongoing business operations, corporate financing, and plans for expenditure. Accounting provides the tool for assessing the expected revenues followed by the mapping of particular inventories, and/or any staffing and purchasing plans among other aspects that consume an organization’s financial resources. In the case of cost management, accountants deploy several techniques based on the phase and status of operations of a given business entity in the United States economy. For example, an organization that experiences operational hardships such as recession-related issues, accountants deploy cost management approaches, which seek to minimize costs with the goal of ensuring that companies do not become bankrupt. In the case of quality control, accounting plays the role of providing reliable qualitative and quantitative data concerning the financial and operational performance of enterprises and corporations that operate in the US economy. Corporate governance and accountability cannot be upheld without the use of accounting tools that enhance financial statements analysis to detect any bookkeeping malpractices (Zvavahera and Ndoda 3). Moreover, the attractiveness of any business assets in terms of its return on investment, which then flows through the US economy, is impossible without appraisal tools that accounting provides.
The Best Cities to Find a Career in the United States for People Majoring in Accounting
The best cities to find a career in any profession are those that demand a particular set of skills and knowledge whose possession pays competitively. However, due to changes in the business environment, variations in the attractiveness of any city concerning any career may change. Nevertheless, some of the best cities in the United States for accounting professionals include Boston, Houston, Chicago, and New York. Ward argues that Boston is the home to about 50,000 auditors and accounting professionals. This attractiveness arises from the booming and strong financial industries that have created a high number of opportunities in the city. Chicago outnumbers Boston in terms of the population of working accountants. It has about 80,000 people working as accounting professionals, bookkeepers, and/or auditors (Ward). Houston houses the offices of four major accounting firms, namely, Deloitte, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Ernst & Young. It also has numerous energy corporations, which provide full-time employment for accountants. Considering the attractiveness of the cost of living in Houston compared to New York, Chicago, or Boston, Houston is a major city for accountants in the United States. Indeed, Ward asserts that smaller financial firms have also migrated to the city, a move that has increased its attractiveness. New York provides the headquarters to the four leading financial firms in the US. Ward observes that 500 fortune companies operate from the city. Having over 140, 000 people working as accountants, bookkeepers, or auditors, New York is definitely the ultimate city for anyone looking for a career in accounting.
The Top Accounting Firms/Companies to Work for in the United States
Various considerations are necessary before arriving at some of the best companies to work for as an accountant. The factors include work structures, prestige, work-life balance, and remuneration among other elements. Vault.com conducted research aiming to rate various accounting firms based on these aspects and other life characteristics (Smith). The research involved 4,100 accounting participants. It aimed at assessing organizations by allocating a score on a scale of 1 to 10. Using the weighted formula, the organization combined the results based on the ratings on quality life and the prestige of working in any company. Vault.com found Ernst & Young, Grant Thornton, Deloitte, and PricewaterhouseCoopers as the leading four best accounting firms to work for (Smith). The firms lead in quality life standards such as work-life balance. They also lead in prestige, although Grant Thornton, which scores highly in terms of work-life balance structures, lags behind KMPG (Smith). Quality work-life policies are important when selecting an accounting firm to work for as an accountant. Excellent training and career progression are necessary for ensuring one’s sustained competitive advantage. Good work-life balance provides employees the opportunity for accelerated career growth when they are given manageable work and job structures. Prestige is an important factor in the allocation of more challenging chores and work experience ratings.
Accounting Profession Outlook
The world population continues to grow. Therefore, the demand for the number of products and services also continues to grow. The implication is that the number of business enterprises will also continue to grow in the quest to produce sufficient products and services to offset the rising demand. Considering that accounting is regarded as the language and tool for business communication, its future looks promising. The increasing business opportunities imply augmented demand for people who conduct business performance assessments and/or those who can communicate effectively concerning business bottom lines. The last two decades have been associated with an elevated alteration of taxation laws, business globalization, and the restructuring of corporations. Such a complex globalized world makes accounting skills incredibly important. This situation has made accounting not only a dynamic career but also highly demandable now and even in the future. The United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics echoes these sentiments noting that accounting entails a growing field that is appropriate for all people who wish to establish and develop successful careers over the next decade. However, most prospects are in areas such as auditing and compliance accounting (Dalton et al. 215). Many corporations and business establishments are continuously seeking to enhance their corporate governance and/or ensure compliance in their attempt to display their shared responsibility (Zvavahera and Ndoda 5).
Role of Technology in Accounting
Technology is indispensable in accounting. The discovery of new technologies creates AIS changes that are deployed by business entities of all sizes (Dalton et al. 21). Indeed, technology has led to the transitioning from paper-based ledgers and journals to the integration of automated accounting systems in business processes. The proliferation of microcomputers and the development and successful use of software applications such as Peachtree and quick books, including the customization of accounting information-processing needs of an organization increase the range of the available options for automation of accounting processes. The availability of high-speed Internet-based connectivity provides room for interaction forums to facilitate knowledge sharing among accountants. However, technology has some negative effects. For example, through technology, enemies can profile an organization’s accounting systems with the objective of conducting espionage. Hence, technology has expanded the concern of accounting to include cybersecurity and/or ensuring that accountants understand various other ways in which accounting information systems can be compromised.
Some of the Biggest Challenges Facing the Accounting Industry Today
Technology and governance are dual major problems that are affecting the accounting sector today. Technology has greatly affected various communication processes within an organization. Hence, the interpretation and communication of business’ financial information require a generic accountant (Camacho 319). Such an accountant needs to be a genius in technology, an excellent problem solver, and a good legal expert (Romney and Steinbart 51). These skills can enable a future accountant to establish good peers, clients, or regulators’ relationships to construct a highly trusted successful professional in the future. With the contribution of technology in improving information processing and dissemination speeds, future accounting will perhaps require a sporadic shift from the quarterly or annual-based system of preparing financial statements to a real-time framework. This shift will require accounting professionals who are capable of validating and testing large volumes of bookkeeping information instantaneously through a technological interface (Romney and Steinbart 52). The conceptualization of the Enron and Marconi scandal places an immense requirement on corporations to foster and portray high levels of integrity in conducting corporations’ business. Therefore, accountants face the challenge of ensuring they do not participate in any accounting malpractice, which may be regarded as a breach of a corporation’s commitment to governance policy. This challenge is important in today’s accounting. All organizations are seeking to ensure they behave ethically and corporate socially responsible. Any compromise to the accounting practice exposes an accountant to the risk of imprisonment or other forms of punishment if found guilty of bookkeeping malpractice. This situation is challenging, especially for one who operates in a world that is characterized by cybersecurity threats, which may lead to the unintentional compromising of AIS.
Some Good Minors to Complement an Accounting Degree
Today’s accounting career requires multidisciplinary training. This situation underlines the need for undertaking minor studies to complement an accounting major. It increases one’s chances of securing a job, especially in the case of fresh graduates. Good minors include legal studies and information technology. However, it is important to note that minors should be accounting-related. For example, a minor in legal studies may be of lesser help if the focus is on criminology. Rather, a focus on tax law and corporate governance would be of principal help. Despite the substantial incorporation of tax law into an accounting degree, a minor in tax law helps to make the subject easier. Other subjects that people who are considering an accounting major career need to have an interest in include property law and bankruptcy studies. Examples of game-changers in accounting minors include the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and Dodd-Frank and Leahy-Smith American Events Act. Information technology subjects such as programming, hardware troubleshooting, and network architecture can enhance one’s job profile.
Camacho, Leticia. “The Communication Skills Accounting Firms Desire in New Hires.” Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, vol. 20, no. 4, 2015, pp. 318-329.
Dalton, Derek , et al. “Audit and Tax Career Paths in Public Accounting: An Analysis of Student and Professional Perceptions.” Accounting Horizons, vol. 28, no. 2, 2014, pp. 213-231.
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Gabbin, Alexander, and Espey Browning. “Post-Public Accounting Careers: How Retiring CPAs can become College Instructors.” The CPA Journal, vol. 86, no. 8, 2016, pp. 38-38.
Romney, Marshall, and Paul Steinbart. Accounting Information Systems. Pearson, 2014.
Smith, Jacquelyn. “The Best Accounting Firms to Work For.” Forbes, Web.
Ward, Merry. “The Top 15 Cities for Accounting Career.” NASBA, Web.
Zvavahera, Promise, and Ruvimbo Ndoda. “Corporate Governance and Ethical Behavior: The Case of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.” Journal of Academic and Business Ethics, vol. 9, no.1, 2014, pp. 1-8.