It may seem like every industry is changing, and if you are already in accounting, or getting ready to make a career in accounting, the changing role of technology in the workplace can be especially unnerving.
The accounting industry was one of the first to be impacted by an increase in advanced data technology, with the adoption of technologies such as tax software and tools that help accountants reduce the amount of errors made. However, based on recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and what we see at accounting staffing firms, the future of accounting shines brightly for those with established careers and those still trying to determine if it’s the right career path for them.
If you want to make the most out of a career in this field, there are five important things for you to know about the future of accounting:
1. Technology won’t take your job, but it will change it. As machine learning and artificial intelligence make fast advancements, administrative accounting jobs will eventually be phased out and replaced with the technology that does these jobs faster and more efficiently. However, that doesn’t mean your job is at risk!
The most attractive workers have skills that cannot be replaced with computers – like advisory, consulting, and potential CFO duties. At Accounting Principals, we notice that skilled professionals are the most desirable talent for expanding accounting departments – while the need for admin roles has decreased significantly.
2. It’s a good time to be an accountant. Accounting firms are expanding and so are accounting departments at many major companies. The larger concern in the industry is that for the last 10 years, there has been a major shortage of quality accountants, which is great for those looking to enter a field that is not oversaturated. According to data from 2016, the unemployment rate of accountants has fallen to 2.2 percent, compared to the national average of 4 percent.
3. A master’s degree is essential. If you want a career with a lot of room for salary growth, it’s imperative you invest the extra time and money, and get a master’s degree. Luckily with online programs, and flexible class scheduling, it’s becoming easier to pursue advanced education while working. Some places will even help subsidize your education.
4. Try to have a specialty. If you can create a niche for yourself and become an expert in a particular subfield of accounting, you will be that much more valuable. For instance, we’ve seen a steady uptick in healthcare accounting – this is an industry that will always be relevant and important, and will always have jobs around. I recommend pursuing additional classes or seminars where possible and leveraging a mentor in the sector that will help you grow your expertise.
5. There are new opportunities in growing cities. As the American economy shifts, so does the need for quality workers in different cities. Growing healthcare hubs, like Pittsburgh, and emerging tech hubs, like Provo, UT, need talented workers to help their businesses and economies grow.
My parting advice is that you take the time to find a mentor, and be a mentor whenever possible. Look to programs like the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance and the American Accounting Association for guidance and to gain additional leadership knowledge.
The importance of mentorship will never diminish and will offer constant invaluable learning and networking opportunities for the longevity of your career. This will ensure you’re ready for the future of your industry, and that you’re teaching the next generation of great accounting consultants.
About Kim Gottschalk
Kim Gottschalk is a senior vice president at Accounting Principals.