Accounting: more than a numbers game

An accountant planning his career
© jorgenman | 123RF Stock Photo

Name any business and you can be sure there is an accountant working to ensure its success. Accounting professionals are in demand and the roles they are doing are more dynamic than ever. Gone are the days of accountants working as bean counters. The modern professional accountant is involved in problem solving, financial management and implementing strategic business plans. And accountants are also very well rewarded for their efforts.

Accountants in demand

As businesses fight back from the global financial crisis, demand for accountants has improved. As a result of the GFC, insolvency experience has become worth its weight in gold, and larger firms are looking for intermediate and senior-level candidates.

At the same time, smaller firms have their eyes out for professionals with experience in self-managed super funds. So accountants really are in demand, from businesses big and small.

Recruitment activity is set to remain steady, with strength shown in the not-for-profit and NGO area. Online retail, energy, oil & gas, property, distribution and the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sectors are also showing strong hiring activity.

On the downside, with the current global economic climate, overseas opportunities have dried up and many expats are heading back to the homeland. Overseas workers looking for prospects in Australia will also be hard-pressed to find something with the steady supply of domestic talent filling demand.

Accountants’ salaries

Accounting is regarded as a relatively high-paying profession. A graduate can expect to be paid $40,000 a year. While salary increases are currently at a minimum, over the course of a typical career, they can go beyond $150,000 or more. Public sector salaries are, in general, lower than private sector rates, but the public sector generally offers better non-cash benefits.

Accounting graduates

With the end of the year approaching, accounting firms will be looking to get their hands on fresh blood with their annual graduate recruitment drives. Many firms judge candidates on their potential, not just their technical skillset alone, and are willing to put in the hours to train and upskill new staff – which is good news for accounting students currently finishing up their degrees.

Fringe benefits

Investment banks offer hefty pay packets for accountants who join their corporations. Companies not able to offer the same level of salary are offering plenty of other perks for their accountants’ loyalty.

Lots of companies are now offering corporate discounts on Internet access and credit cards; they may also consider nine-day fortnights, additional superannuation and salary sacrifice arrangements. Many companies see a genuine need for greater flexibility to ensure a healthy work–life balance and have implemented new lifestyle cultures for accountants that have great appeal for their employees.

Spice up your love life

If you’re a woman and your love life is floundering, you may consider taking up accounting. Studies show that for women in accounting, romantic prospects are fantastic – and Bernard Salt, a well-known demographer who tracks social changes, has the research to back up the claim.

Salt has developed something he calls a ‘fella filter’, which identifies where the best romantic prospects can be found in the population. It turns out that accounting has the highest number of rich, eligible men of any profession.

‘There’s a great pool of undiscovered manhood out there and they’re all accountants. They’re good catches because they’re earning a lot of money. Generally their income levels are much higher than average for their age group’, said Salt.

Getting the job

Employers have become less focused on technical ability and are instead concentrating on a potential employee’s attitude and ability to work in a team environment.

To remedy economic uncertainty, many larger organisations are pouring energy into recruitment to strengthen their hiring activities. Selection criteria and psychometric testing are common in accounting recruitment processes. Employers are seeking candidates who may be considered ‘outside the box’, and are opening their doors to other sectors to secure the right person for the job.

Just starting out?

Most accountants start out with a bachelor degree in either business or commerce, studying subjects in accounting, business, economics, English or maths. Once a graduate of a tertiary degree, you can also go on to study the CPA Program or the Chartered Accountants Program. 

Graph on education attainment for accounting
Data taken from Job Outlook

Interested in an accounting career? We have a wide range of accounting qualifications to get you working in the industry.

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