If you reach that moment in your life, perhaps once you've completed university or even later, you might be in a postion to accept or reject jobs that will lead you down a different career path.
If you choose accountancy, you'll join an industry of close to 200,000 people in Australia.
Although, if you're still at this fork in the road, where life's uncertainty can feel like a burden and can deter your decision making power. So let's look at some advantages of becoming an accountant.
To begin with, forget your previous ideas of what an accountant is or does, not all accountants are maths genius. In modern times, computers do most of the math calculations for us!
Secondly, accountants are hired across all types of industries worldwide. Finance professionals are sought after by everyone, from fashion designers to film-makers, from real-estate moguls to non-profit organisations.
Perhaps better than a passport! A membership to accounting bodies like the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, will help you obtain jobs everywhere in the world. Especially in the major financial centres of the planet: New York, London, Tokyo, Zurich, Hong Kong, Chicago or Singapore.
Today many jobs are under threat due to automation, but accountancy is not one of them. Yes. softwares and AI are improving rapidly and reducing the hours spent crunching numbers but this mostly means that you will have more time to meet with clients, or advise companies on financial strategies.
You will also have strong job security. Recessions in the past decades have had enormous effect across different industries and proffessions, but the financial department, is the one that gives advice on how to pull through financially difficult periods, so the accounting jobs remain secure and cuts are seen elsewhere in the company.
Still not decided if the field of accounting is for you?, let's dive deeper into what makes an accountant tick.
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There are many different pathways you can choose to become an accountant, and most requirements have a university degree or a degree in accounting, but there are exceptions for high school students looking at potential step in their career.
A Bachelor Degree or a Master in the field of accounting is required to be eligible for for students to enter into any of the three professional accounting bodies that regulate and accredit the accounting industry in Australia.
These are generally three-year courses, open to students over 17 years who have completed their year 12 certificate with an appropriate ATAR level.
This could be a Bachelor of Accounting or a Bachelor of Accounting and Finance.
Alternatively, you can complete a postgraduate certificate course such as a Master in Professional Accounting.
This is a good two-year step for students who have previously attained a degree in any given field, and have experience in tertiary level learning.
After, you can apply for entry into any of the three professional accounting bodies' schools that regulate and accredit the accounting industry in Australia, and will leave you with a complete knowledge in the field.
Let's look into two of the professional accounting bodies where you would continue your training to develop your accounting skills, it's another step but now you're nearly fully qualified!
CPA Australia is a globally recognised accounting body with a global membership of 166,166 members (as of 31 December 2019) in over 100 countries around the world.
Their main services to members include education, training, technical support and advocacy.
Employees and members liaise with local and international bodies to represent the opinion and concerns of the professional body to governments, regulators, industries, academia and the general public.
They offer a continued training program to accountants who already have a degree.
The training includes expert level courses and online learning designed to increase the complete knowledge of accounting and finance professionals in key learning areas.
They do live webinars where you can grow your skills, and online courses to enhance your practical and soft skills, and your knowledge across many different management topics.
The Institute of Public Accountants (IPA)
IPA has a few different education pathways should you have your degree and are willing to become a member with them.
A few of those options are:
The IPA Program, which now consists of two awards: a Graduate Certificate of Public Accounting (GCPA) “The Professional Sequence” and the Deakin University Master of Business Administration (MBA).
The GCPA which comprises of 4 units: a core and compulsory ethics unit and 3 electives.
The 3 electives will partially or fully meet the educational requirements for your statutory registration (e.g., tax practitioner or financial planner, with plans to move to RCA compliance offering). There is also a general electives stream.
The MBA is of six units (subject to recognition of prior learning) and is largely unchanged with its focus on personal, practice and professional development which will expose all members to techniques that promote smarter working, business growth and techniques for change management.
As two of Australia's three accounting bodies, you'll be in safe hands at either IPA or CPA if you pursue a further step after your degree.
With this, you should not have any problems finding good work as part of the school courses are centred on building connections, experience and employment in their internal membership group!
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How Long Does It Take To Become an Accountant?
Well, it all depends on which career path you want to follow.
By far the most common pathway to becoming an accountant in Australia is to get yourself a tertiary level qualification. Out of the three main accounting bodies Australia wide, only IPA will take you as a member without a degree or master. So in order to increase your chances of getting good work in Australia, it is advisable to look into getting a degree in accounting, or a business degree with a major in accounting.
Obtaining an undergraduate degree in Australia requires a full-time study of three years. You can find courses all across the country under names such as Bachelor of Accounting, Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting), Bachelor or Business (Accounting). All the courses are three years long.
CPA Program Pathway
CPA Australia is one of the world's largest accounting bodies with a global membership of 166,166 members (as at 31 December 2019) in more than 100 countries around the world.
"Our core services to members include education, training, technical support and advocacy. Employees and members work together with local and international bodies to represent the views and concerns of the profession to governments, regulators, industries, academia and the general public."
Becoming a member and furthering your training with CPA is a common pathway once you already have your degree or master in accounting.
The CPA program is an 18 month part-time process in which you will study alongside working, so it will be a very busy period! They have online study options though to make it easier if you are working long hours.
The program intergrates education and experience, and the program uses contemporary and internationally relevant material to provide you with an understanding of dynamic issues facing organisations today. Becoming a member with CPA will give you an excellent introduction into the industry and provide you with contacts in professional settings which will no doubt help kick start your career.
An Accountant's Average Salary in Australia
Let's start with the fact that the typical Australian yearly salary is $57,000 AUD a year, and $76,000 AUD per year for full-time employees, which is a stastictic from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
So how do accountants stack up compared to this?
It's not easy to say because the term 'accountant' is quite all-encompassing, and could refer to several different job positions within the accounting industry. With the stats we have at our disposal, chartered accountants in Australia earn somewhere between $53,000 AUD to $113,000 AUD a year, depending on qualifications, job title, company size and unfortunately perhaps also depending on gender. The median salary sits at $76,000 AUD per year.
It's certain it does depend on which type of accounting job you want to do: public accounting, finance accounting, general accounting, corporate accounting, auditing and so on.
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Where Can An Accountant Work?
There is an easy answer to this question: EVERYWHERE.
Accountants are needed in pretty much all existing industries, from the local businesses in your street to the multinational giants; all registered businesses file yearly tax-returns with the national government. Also, every company is a potential employer.
If you work in Australia, all tax returns are reviewed by the ATO (Australian Taxation Office), which employs thousands of public accountants to assist the government calculate and collect taxes from all over the nation.
Besides government institutions, all Australian businesses need accountants: private schools and universities, retail stores, health care providers and bars and retaurants, to name a few. Even self-employed people such as doctors, teaches, lawyers or actors may need to hire an accountant to be sure of their personal finances.
But the job is so much more than just doing tax-returns, even if that might be your busiest time of the year. The end of the fiscal year period, from January to March, is my far the busiest season for an accountant.
Nowadays consultancy makes up the bulk of an accountants work. The profession has evolved, accountants are no longer regular bookkeepers that look after the invoices that are issued, paid and filed.
An accounting program can be used by anyone to do that but the difference lies in analysing reports and seeing where the company can be more financially efficient. Skills such as forecasting, taxation, budgeting, payroll reporting, audit or financial reports, are all services any modern accounting firm will offer it's clients.
For example, forensic accounting focuses on the study of businesses financial records and statistics to make sure that no fraud has been committed. As a forensic accountant, you will probably work for the government in a law enforcement agency.
Another option is corporate accounting should you have the appropriate accounting degrees. You could be in charge of preparation of their final accounts and cash flow statements as well as the analysis and interpretation of a company's financial results.
If you have a very analytical mind and are expert with numbers, you would be perfect for the job of a certified internal auditor, to review a company global risk and control management and improving its financial reliability, compliance with regulation and overall effectiveness.
So although accounting may have taken a different role in society than it had a century ago, it remains a profession sought after by companies and individuals all over the world.