What Is the Economic Outlook for Careers in Accounting?

New laws and financial regulations will lead to economic growth in accounting careers. Read on to find out more about the factors affecting the economic outlook for careers in accounting, as well as how you can improve your job prospects. Schools offering Accounting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks made a median salary of $36,430 according to 2014 data. Most of these professionals earned between $22,480 and $56,470 per year during this time.

In contrast, the median salary among accountants and auditors was $65,940 in 2014. Most professionals in these fields earned between $40,850 and $115,950 per year.

Important Facts About an Accounting Career

Accounting ClerkAccountant
Required Education High school diploma or GED Bachelor's degree
Professional Certification Certified Bookkeeper Certified Public Accountant
Work Environment Office setting, may work for multiple firms and required overtime is possible office setting, full-time employment with occasional overtime
Similar Occupations Budget analyst, Loan officer, Tax examiner Personal Finance Advisor, Financial Manager, Cost Estimator

Expected Employment Growth

According to the BLS, demand for accountants and auditors will increase by 13% between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). When compared to the projected growth for all other occupations, this rate for this field is about as fast as the average. As of 2014, there were an estimated 1,187,310 individuals employed in this field, and this number is expected to grow by 166,700 by the year 2022.

Some types of professionals who will enjoy this demand include:

  • Certified Public Accountants (CPAs)
  • Management accountants
  • Internal auditors
  • Government accountants
  • Information technology auditors

Factors Influencing Growth

The BLS reported that recent growth in the industry has been attributed to increased financial scrutiny. New positions will be created to ensure accurate and legitimate accounting practices in private, governmental and public sectors. New, stricter laws create the most demand for professionals with up-to-date skills.

In addition, the improving health of the economy is driving growth since companies will need the services of accountants and auditors. Globalization is another factor affecting growth in this field. As companies participate in international mergers, acquisitions and trade, these professionals' skills will be needed.

Ways to Improve Job Prospects

According to the BLS, there will be competition for positions in the field. CPAs will have the best outlook for securing accounting careers. While each state has its own requirements, qualifying to take the CPA exam typically requires possessing a bachelor's degree and 150 semester hours of college credits.

To become licensed, you need to complete all four parts of the exam and usually have two years or more experience in public accounting. After you're licensed, continuing education is often needed to maintain licensure. In addition to certification, possessing an accounting master's degree or a business master's degree with an accounting concentration can give you an edge.

More employers require proficiency with accounting software and strong communications skills. Future accountants will need strong interpersonal skills because more positions will be in a team environment. The BLS also notes that you need to have strong analytical skills, be good at math, pay attention to details and be organized to succeed in this career.

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