A thorough accounting practice is an essential foundation for successful companies in today’s fast-paced, ever-evolving and complex business environment.
Accounting professionals manage financial accounts and help organisations become and stay financially efficient and profitable through their knowledge, analysis and leadership. They are highly regarded and uniquely skilled to interpret and analyse financial information and give advice on current conditions and future projections. Interestingly, accounting work can often be more strategic or managerial in nature rather than totally numbers based, particularly as careers progress. Many accounting professionals become business leaders, working in a range of organisations from small to large businesses, multinationals and government departments.
Besides providing you with the opportunity to work with a variety of clients, a career in accounting will also immerse you in a challenging environment. The fact that accounting regimes are fast paced and ever evolving means there are always opportunities for growth and development. It is never stagnant.
Accounting professionals can find themselves in a wide range of roles, from payroll right through to senior executive positions as they gain experience. Some examples of the broad range of roles in this field include:
A degree with a major in accounting is a gateway to working in a wide variety of fields including accountancy/financial services, accounting advisory companies or even starting your own private accounting consultancy firm.
As a starting point, many employers offering internships where students can begin to develop their skills and experience.
Upon graduating from studies, new accountants can quickly accumulate experience and become certified by CA ANZ or CPA, which can lead to roles of higher responsibility and scope to become department directors. Salaries and opportunities rise with experience - many CFOs and chief executives begin with careers in accounting.
After becoming familiar with the fundamental elements of accounting, you can expect to begin to specialise in the more advanced applications of accounting.
Some examples of specialisations include:
It is no secret that accounting careers can be more stable compared to other sectors of the finance industry. Even in a recession, companies require sound accounting advice (sometimes even more so in a recession!), and there are clear routes for professional development and career progression. For instance, if you are an Accounting Trainee there will be clear expectations and skills required to advance to a Senior Accounting role, as opposed to some careers that don’t have clear career progression pathways. The majority of accounting companies support career advancement through a distinct career path. Graduates usually start as an Accounting Trainee, advance to mid-level and Senior Accounting roles such as Accounting Manager and finally top performers will move to Director or Principal or Partner.
Once you have gained sufficient accounting experience across a range of disciplines within the accounting field, you can chart your own course. You may even want to consider setting up your own business to provide accounting services based on your training and extensive experience.
While technology and infrastructure-based jobs have continued to dominate the list of top-paying jobs in Australia, accounting maintains itself as a steady and consistent field for remuneration.
Starting salaries range between AU$50,000 - $85,000 per annum. The average salary for entry-level graduate accountants in Australia is about $56,000. Salaries vary greatly depending on positions, but there is great scope to work your way up through an accounting department. It is important to note that salaries do vary between regions, with Sydney and Melbourne leading the way for entry-level accounting salaries.
Training varies from firm to firm. You can expect training ranging from on-the-job-training to more formal technical training in a class-style setup. You are likely to receive either formal or informal mentoring from senior accounting experts with the focus placed on getting well acquainted with accounting concepts. Smaller boutique firms will tend to have a more ‘on-the-job’ flexible approach to training, whereas large firms will often have structured training programs for all graduates.
Some of the constraints of working as an accounting expert: