Rebecca Fieler is confident that when she completes her internship and her master's degree in accounting, she'll be able to live in the city she wants–Austin–and work in the specialty area she prefers–tax accounting.
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And Jennifer Tecson, 47, believes she'll find an accounting position that fits into her own requirements: It must be within a five-mile radius of her home in Windermere, Fla.
The confidence of Fieler and Tecson is not misplaced. Both are likely to get what they're looking for. Accountants are a hot commodity. Demand for professionals with solid skills, education and experience, is way up since passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate reform legislation in 2002.
Jerry Love, chairman elect of the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants, said firms everywhere are struggling to find accountants with three to five years of experience. "The common theme is, 'I need more people, and I need more experienced people,'" he told the Austin Business Journal.
In Florida, the unemployment rate is only 3 percent. Employers are offering bigger starting salaries, signing bonuses and even $100 incentives to existing employees if they attract a good hire, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Opportunities are out there, and the accounting field is attracting more students–19 percent more nationwide from 2000 to 2004, according to the AICPA. Perhaps they are drawn to the idea of searching for questionable accounting practices or rooting out fraud, or maybe it's the starting salaries of more than $43,000.
At the University of Texas at Austin, 93 percent of the 2005 accounting graduates accepted job offers before graduation, the Daily Texan reported. Recruiters from 27 accounting firms came to the university's business career fair this year, versus three or four firms at career fairs past. The university's career center hired two additional career counselors to meet students' demands.
"There are recruiters present at the master's program orientation, recruiting students before they have even started the master's accounting program," said Rachel Brown, director of Red McCombs School of Business master's of professional accounting career services.
Dave Beal of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes that signing bonuses of $2,500 to undergrad accounting majors have become routine. "I've never seen it like this," said Larry Kallio, a Deloitte alum who is director of a new master of accountancy program at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. "I'm jealous of my students."