A College Eye View of Accounting

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When did you decide to be an accountant? Many people don't really decide what they want to be when they grow up until they are in college. The liberal arts ideal holds that if students are exposed to enough different types of courses, they will eventually settle on a career path. For some, it may not be the path they intended when they began their post-secondary education.

Accounting firms and professors are banking on that. At least they are at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where students enrolled in introductory Financial Accounting class took field trips to the local offices of three accounting companies. Students visited the offices of KPMG Peat Marwick, Deloitte & Touche and Grant Thronton to get a glimpse into what accountants actually do.

Managers and former Drexel graduates met with students to deliver a single, and possibly unexpected message to the students: Accounting is Fun! Working professionals outline the types of things they do, the skills needed to succeed, the career paths available to accounting majors and the compensation they can expect.

The numbers are probably most important to the students, and they are impressive.

“The average salary for graduating accountants from college is $41,000. If you work in a Big Four Company, that adds about another three thousand,” according to Michael Kheiferz, student journalist for the Triangle and one of the students who visited KPMG Peat Marwick. “There is a lot of potential for growth, as you can progress from a Staff member to Senior Staff to Manager and then to a Director, whose salary goes up to $119,000. Also, if you ever become a partner, you can get $500,000!”

The firms are counting on these numbers and the chance to see accounting from the inside, will be enough to turn some of the students' heads toward a career in accounting. Unfortunately, they won't know how successful their efforts were until 2008, when these students begin graduating and moving in to the workforce. Based on Michael's reporting, they have good reasons to be hopeful.

“[I]t is true that Accounting is an interesting profession with a lot of possibility for success and constant growth through work experience. Don't forget that when registering for classes in the future.”

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