Just like in any field of work, little or no amount of experience won’t suffice when you’re trying to get an accounting job. Accounting is a very important sector for organizations because they analyze and measure the financial status of these organizations and provide data that are pivotal to some key business decisions.
Seeing how important accountants are to organizations, it’s understandable why experience is required from applicants.
Experience in this context refers to positions of work that deals with tasks related to accounting such as financial reporting, taxation, forensic accounting, applying widely accepted accounting principles, audits etc
WHY DOES EXPERIENCE MATTER IN GETTING AN ACCOUNTING JOB?
It’s a fact that most employers value experience when analyzing accountants or an accounting firm. This is because of the shortage of skills in finance and managerial positions which come with experience, hence why it’s important to obtain adequate experience in accounting.
Individuals with these accounting skills can ask for higher salaries and have access to more benefits. They can also explore the accounting industry and take advantage of more work benefits.
HOW CAN YOU GAIN EXPERIENCE IN ACCOUNTING?
The major hurdle for most CPA licensing candidates after meeting the educational requirements will be getting the work experience needed to complete the CPA certificate. The time period usually required is one year. For those who have already been working and just need the license to further their careers, the work experience isn’t the problem.
But for people like college students or people who switched careers, it’ll be hard to achieve this especially with no experience at all in the accounting field.
Don’t fret though, we’ll talk about ways with which you can attain the experience required so let’s get into it:
Apply for internships
This may seem like common knowledge because you’ve probably been hearing it right from your highschool or college days but it’s worth repeating because internships are very valuable when trying to gain experience in accounting.
They give you an insight into the day to day activities of an accountant, what the work environment looks like and the kind of work culture that exists. You would also find mentors who will be there to guide you through the tough periods and also give you insight to what the accounting industry looks like.
If you find out that getting an internship is becoming difficult, volunteering is another way with which you can gain valuable experience. Non-profit organizations, churches, your local grocery store, charities etc are good places where you can get experience in accounting. Offer your services and you’ll get a lot of recommendations and guidance in the end.
Shadow and Network
Use your network to reach out to people in the accounting industry. You can do this by email, physical meetings and social media apps like LinkedIn, Twitter etc. Try to reach out to some of your connections to actualise a personal interview or meeting, with this you could land a volunteer or internship opportunity you didn’t know existed.
Make your accounting skills known
Anything you’re applying for or getting your foot in, try as much as possible to spread the word about your accounting skills. Search through your work history and look out for skills, traits and qualities that are of quality to employers. The more you make your accounting skills and qualities known, the more employers will be willing to employ you.
WHERE CAN YOU GAIN ACCOUNTING EXPERIENCE?
After talking about how to gain accounting experience, the next question should be where you can gain such experience.
There are a lot of prestigious firms and organizations that offer some of the best pay and nice working environments and it’s every accountant’s dream to work in such environments. That being said, most of these organizations pick the best and most qualified candidates for the job so you have to be a stand out candidate to even be considered. When you finish school, you’ll be able to get an interview if you have at least a 3.5 GPA but that isn’t the only metric used, the others are the amount of hours worked in school for example.
Here, you will typically work with an organization that is associated with a particular niche. To work for a private business, you typically don’t need a CPA license but if you do the pay is better. Just like in public accounting, in private accounting having a CPA license is the ultimate qualification for getting a job.
ARE THERE OTHER JOBS CAN YOU GAIN ACCOUNTING EXPERIENCE FROM?
When trying to get accounting experience, you do not necessarily need to have the title of an ‘accountant’. You can perform the role without actually having the title by being involved in the finances of the firm where you work. If getting a job as an accountant is becoming an issue, there are other smaller roles or jobs that you can take up which can give you the valuable experience that you need. Some of these roles are:
Some of the duties of a staff accountant are general bookkeeping tasks like generation of financial statements or reconciling of accounts. This is a very good way to gain experience because you do not need a CPA license to get the job.
The job of bookkeepers involves maintaining accurate and up to date financial records. Bookkeeping is the job that is most similar to accounting but not quite accounting. The experience you gain from accounting can help you in getting your CPA license in the future.
As a collection specialist, one of the roles you’ll take is being the intermediary between customers and creditors with outstanding bills. They typically scan accounts to keep track of any overdue payments, inquiries and collection activity.
While going through your journey as an accountant, it is important that you gain a lot of experience on the way. This helps to give you an upper hand when you try to apply for jobs or certain roles.
In this article, we have given you the detailed explanation on the different things you can do to gain experience as an accountant.