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Changing careers? Consider accounting

3 min read


Today’s guest post is from Jeff Thomson, president of the Institute of Management Accountants.

Looking for not just a job, but a career? Tired of your profession? Want to switch to a more secure industry? Unsure of how your skills can transfer to a new position?

With a struggling economy and unstable job market, many professionals are undecided on their professional future. And many, in fact, have not had a choice. As of January 2009, Wall Street alone has shed more than 240,000 jobs; jobs which may never fully return.

But thousands of people, many of them finance function professionals once so critical to the banking and investments industries, are finding new success in one of the oldest professions around — accounting.

In particular, jobseekers are looking for positions in management accounting. These accounting jobs are inside organizations, in which professionals monitor, interpret and communicate operating results, evaluate business performance, implement and oversee internal control operations and make strategic decisions about an organization’s direction.

The transition to accounting, especially management accounting, is possible for professionals with a variety of backgrounds, since the diversity of responsibilities and job positions offered within the accounting industry allows you to use your transferable skills to find a position that best relates to your interests and expertise.

Even in today’s economic climate, jobs abound in public and private companies, nonprofits and government.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the accounting profession is predicted to grow faster than the national average of other job categories. More than a quarter-million jobs are expected to be created over the next decade.

Interested in making the switch? Here’s how:

  • Identify your skill set. What do you do really well? The best accountants use analytical skills, like decision-making and evaluating costs vs. benefits, as well as “soft” skills, like leadership and strategic communication.
  • Join a professional association. Belonging to a professional accounting association, like the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), offers you access to a network of colleagues and mentor opportunities. In addition, professional associations offer publications and other resources that prepare you for your new career.
  • Educate yourself. While you could choose to go back to school to pursue an accounting degree, earning a certification like IMA’s Certification in Management Accounting (CMA) can be achieved with less time and money. The CMA credential demonstrates the ability to work across the entire accounting process within organizations and establishes commitment to ethical behavior — a critical need in light of business today.

How can you start looking? Besides reaching out to your contacts and continuing to network, search within an organization or industry you already know. If you’re already familiar with the company, or the field, it’s much easier to transition to an accounting role.

Image credit, iStock