Firms Competing for Accounting Grads

While college graduates are facing the best career prospects in three years, it's the grads with accounting degrees who are sitting pretty.

No degree is more in demand, Reuters reported. Consider this: A starting salary of roughly $44,000, generous benefits, creative perks and a strong need for new talent. The combination has kept recruiters busy.

Ernst & Young, which offers a concierge service for employees too busy to run errands, is looking to hire 4,500 accounting graduates this year, which is up 30 percent from last year, according to Reuters.

A spring 2005 report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers states that overall hiring of college grads is expected to rise by 13 percent over one year ago. In addition to accounting, other in-demand majors include business administration, management and electrical or mechanical engineering, NACE states.

More accountants are entering the field than in recent years, Financial Executive magazine reported. The number of accounting graduates began declining in the 1990s, but rose 6 percent from the 2001-2002 school year to the next school year, according to an AICPA survey in 2004.

Accountants entering the field will find a number of challenges - constantly changing regulations, complex financial transactions, intense compliance rules and the need for strong written and verbal communication skills. Educators are changing their curriculum to meet the new expectations, with more courses in internal auditing, forensic accounting, financial statement analysis and ethics, said Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources.

McDonald told Financial Executive that students who "carefully select a mix of coursework, and are involved in extracurricular activities, volunteer opportunities and internships, have an advantage in the job market and are better positioned for long-term career success."

He added that education cannot stop once students earn their degree. "Ongoing professional development for all accountants will be a key factor for succeeding in this new environment."

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