Is Accounting a Good Major?
We always keep our inboxes open to answer questions from our readers; from now on, each week we will be taking one of the questions we think will be most helpful and solving it for the public. We get a lot of versions of, “is accounting a good major?”
This week, Kaylee wrote in from The Ohio State University asking:
“I am working on trying to decide what I want to do within the business world. My question for you, is accounting a good major? Should I be an accountant? I like math and am interested in understanding more about the financials of companies.
Well, Kaylee, there are undoubtedly many opinions on both sides of this, we will try to express some of the pros and cons for both.
Is Accounting a Good Major?
Choose a major is hard – people often say that you will not wind up employed in the major you initially chose, which can be true even for accounting. It is great that you are trying to research the field more before making a choice.
An accounting major is a great asset for any student looking to enter the business world. Through your education, you learn how to understand and evaluate the underlying financial model of a business. This type of insight is critical to any role in any industry and makes you a great fit for lots of entry-level positions.
Typically, the coursework involved with an accounting major is quite involved, more so than a major in marketing or business management. You will spend more time in the library than your friends, especially in your fourth year when you are preparing for your CPA exam.
That said, your payoff will be sweet.
What jobs can I can with an accounting major?
This may seem like a self-explanatory question, but there are actually quite a few different types of jobs that you can get as an accountant.
Most people initially think of accountants as the people that help you do your taxes each year. Those accountants deal only with personal income taxes and have a much more relaxed career path than others.
Most accountants coming out of college will want to land a job in public accounting where there are several different types of roles. Most graduates will choose between either tax or audit, each with their own pros and cons.
Tax professionals work to help companies prepare and manage their tax requirements and compliance. This gives you the in-depth knowledge that can be one day used to run your own tax practice. The starting pay is a bit higher, but the work is monotonous if you do not love it. Of course, around busy season you will be working around the clock.
Audit professionals are working to verify the accounting information that the client is providing to the general public. This means that there will be a lot of interaction with clients, intense scheduling, and high travel which results in time on the road. Typically, accountants use audit as a launching point to exit to become a controller or industry accountant.
Should I be an accountant?
Now, answering the question, “should I be an accountant?” is a different story.
Accounting, especially at public accounting firms like the Big 4 (KPMG, Deloitte, PWC, EY), is a great way to launch any career. You will quickly gain a lot of training and experience that you will not get most other places and will get a great name brand for your resume. You will be expected to put in long hours, maybe even upwards of 80+ each week during busy season, but your compensation will reflect your hard work.
After graduation, your work is not over – to pursue a career in the accounting industry you will need to continue by becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) which can take years of studying for hours of tests.
Due to the nature of the industry, it is typically more accessible for good students graduating with a degree in accounting to secure a role, especially when they are preparing to complete their CPA. It is an extremely stable industry and a secure way to grow a great career.
Deciding if Accounting is Right for You
As you look to choose a major or a career, spend time researching and reaching out to people like Kaylee did to see if it is the right fit. It is essential to speak to people in the industry and get a feel for the culture of the work and the lifestyles they live. This will give you more personal insight into whether it might be the right career for you.
As always, any questions, email me at rob [at] big4bound.com