CM’s Guide to the Accounting Major

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Also by Paige Affinito

Ever since you waddled as a little tyke, money seemed intriguing. You imagined a life dealing with money all day and all night long and always acted as the banker in Monopoly. Although stereotyped as a boring and difficult major, accounting is referred to as the language of business. The business world constantly demands good accountants. Contrary to what popular media depicts, you don’t need to double as a mathematician to major in accounting.

What You’ll Be Doing

Accounting majors spend most of freshman and sophomore year completing pre requisites focused on social and behavioral classes as well as classes geared toward boosting communication skills and analytical reasoning. Upper-level courses introduce aspiring accountants to basic accounting principals and theories, opening eyes to the magical topics of financial accounting, cost accounting, tax accounting, auditing and business law.

If you really want to rock the accounting world, take the plunge and complete CPA (Certified Public Accounting) license requirements so you can practice public accounting in the real world. CPA certification requires undergrads to compete 150 credit hours then pass a four-part exam within a year’s time. Passing 150 credits’ worth of courses within four years proves intense, so consider taking the route often travelled by accountants and take extra time to earn a master’s degree. Take note that CPA certification requirements vary by state.

Upsides

“The advantage of being an Accounting major is that it is one of the top three careers that will have many jobs available in the near future like engineering and computer science. If you think about it, most people and/or companies are too lazy or just don’t want the stress or trouble of doing their taxes, income statement, financial statement and balance sheet. They would much rather pay someone to do it for them. –Michael Monroy, Florida State University Accounting Major

“There’s a lot of job security and room for growth in accounting, both financially and professionally. I personally think it’s a cool and challenging subject because there’s always more to learn and the field diversity is endless, you just have to find and figure out which one you like.”- Alec Admire, CPA, B.S. in Accounting from University of Miami 2013, Master in Taxation from Nova Southeastern University 2014, Senior Accountant at MBAF

“When I was in college, I wanted a job that would give me numerous business opportunities, growth potential and pay. The accounting major provided these great opportunities. Personally, I’d tell prospective students now that when they graduate they should aim to work for a big firm to get the most experience possible. What this also does is it provides you with a means to meet new clients and meet big people in these companies.” Fernando Fernandez, University of Miami Accounting major graduate

Downsides

“A potential downside could be that a lot of people say in about 5-10 years there will not be a need for accountants, that what they do can be done by computers. Another downside is that it is a very rigorous major. . A ton of business majors don’t pass financial or managerial accounting their first time taking the class, so you will know soon if accounting is for you. ”-Michael Monroy, Accounting Major at Florida State University

“Accounting majors have to work really hard. School isn’t over after a bachelor degree since you’ll probably need a masters and then you have to prepare and take the CPA exams. Depending on your field, it can be very stressful”-Alec Admire, CPA, B.S. in Accounting from University of Miami 2013, Master in Taxation from Nova Southeastern University 2014, Senior Accountant at MBAF

“You’ll spend five or six years in college studying rather than four, and then you should spend another year studying to get your CPA license. I think that these extra years of learning would be to your advantage, however there are people that aren’t thrilled by the thought of spending more time than normal in college. Also, people see accountants as people who just punch numbers all day, when really that isn’t the case.” Fernando Fernandez, University of Miami Accounting major graduate

Career Opportunities

1. Public Accountant

PwC, Deloitte, KPMG, and Ernst and Yong comprise the “Big Four,” notorious among accountants as the four largest international professional service networks. They look for young CPAs to join their audit, tax and advisory practices. Meet these big shots at career fairs or connect on LinkedIn with employees to get a feel for the company’s culture and personality.

2. Private Accountant

If the busy public accounting life doesn’t sound ideal, choose to take the private accounting path and work for corporations. The private sector offers more personal flexibility and eases the balance between work and personal time. Plus, corporate accountants work in virtually every industry from manufacturers to major retailers to pharmaceutical companies.

3. Forensic Accountant

If you idolize the guy who finally took down the notorious Jordan Belfort (think Wolf of Walstreet), end your search. Forensic accountants can consult businesses or work for law enforcement, even the F.B.I. In this profession, you can investigate corporate and business crimes like embezzlement and fraud, act as a field agent, and manage finances and budgets.

4. Budget Analyst

Budget analysts spend time figuring out the most efficient way to distribute a company’s funding. As a budget analyst, you’ll set guidelines and restrictions for a company’s spending each fiscal year, and all financial plans must go through you. Calling the shots feels nice, doesn’t it?

5. Lawyer

If you’re looking to add letters aside from CPA to your credentials, consider law school. Accountants and lawyers both use logic, and many accountants decide to go to law school. What client wouldn’t trust and respect a lawyer who also knows the ins and outs of accounting principles?

Brandon is a Junior at Florida State University studying Editing, Writing and Media. He can be found raving about his fantasy football team that came in second place last season or eating something chicken related.

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