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Is Accounting a good career choice?

  • Last Updated:
  • Apr 14th, 2011 12:54 am
[OP]
Newbie
Mar 29, 2011
10 posts
Victoria, BC

Is Accounting a good career choice?

Hello Everyone. I am considering going into Accounting in the near future. Right now I have a BA and am working a dead-end job as a Security Guard. I hate it. Accounting seems like the kind of thing that I'd be good at and may even enjoy. However, I've browsed over a few threads here and I've noticed people complaining that Accounting is now a very very competitive industry, especially here in Vancouver where I live. Apparently a lot of people are working 60+ hours a week and making 60k after spending tons of time and money getting a designation.

1. How true are these claims?

2. What is the accounting labour market like, specifically in Vancouver?

3. What are the prospects for moving into other industries with a degree in accounting?

4. What are the prospects for moving into other industries as a CA or CGA?

5. What is corporate life like for accountants? Is everyone expected to meet clients and more 'personable' roles, or do most just sit at a desk crunching spreadsheets?

6. A pet peeve of mine is political correctness. Anyone have any horror stories about the big four or other accounting firms regarding fraudulent sexual harassment claims or other over-the-top political correctness policies?

7. I understand that the Chartered Accountant Designation is respected internationally. Does anyone here have any experience spending a lot of time abroad as an accountant? How difficult is it to move from one country to another as an accountant? Do laws and policies change a lot or is it pretty uniform?
4 replies
Deal Fanatic
Oct 3, 2004
6313 posts
1563 upvotes
Honestly, don't do it if you want to make more money. Someone with no experience, if you are lucky to even find a job, you make under $30k. Honestly, you will have a hard time. Too many grads and accountants from overseas, not enough jobs.
Member
Apr 9, 2011
206 posts
13 upvotes
champ91 wrote: Honestly, don't do it if you want to make more money. Someone with no experience, if you are lucky to even find a job, you make under $30k. Honestly, you will have a hard time. Too many grads and accountants from overseas, not enough jobs.

What about Finance?
Member
Jul 8, 2009
282 posts
16 upvotes
Knucker3 wrote: Hello Everyone. I am considering going into Accounting in the near future. Right now I have a BA and am working a dead-end job as a Security Guard. I hate it. Accounting seems like the kind of thing that I'd be good at and may even enjoy. However, I've browsed over a few threads here and I've noticed people complaining that Accounting is now a very very competitive industry, especially here in Vancouver where I live. Apparently a lot of people are working 60+ hours a week and making 60k after spending tons of time and money getting a designation.

1. How true are these claims?
60+ hours, under $60k for your first three years - well yes, very true, but with regards to hours, only for certain months in the year. In Vancouver Big 4, you'd be making about $65k by year 4 (i.e. 2nd year senior). Starting wages is around $38k. The average salary for a CA + 5 years experience is around $150k (or something like that, you can look up the survey). All in all, being a CA can be a very good career.
2. What is the accounting labour market like, specifically in Vancouver?
It is very competitive for big four spots, but this isn't unusual in any city really. Having worked a dead-end job for awhile wouldn't help you. If you did DAP and manage an A-average (not overly difficult), you'd have a good shot. Having other things in life you're passionate about (sports, hobbies, volunteering) would help you as well. Finding an accounting position somewhere else is still very possible.
3. What are the prospects for moving into other industries with a degree in accounting?
As in, without a designation? Not entirely sure. I'd recommend public practice first. There are industry spots for non-designated accountants but from what I've seen, newly qualified CA's quickly fill up the spots above them.
4. What are the prospects for moving into other industries as a CA or CGA?
Once you receive your designation, most people head into industry. There's a high demand for trained accountants and lots of different opportunities available.
5. What is corporate life like for accountants? Is everyone expected to meet clients and more 'personable' roles, or do most just sit at a desk crunching spreadsheets?
It's definitely important to be personable with coworkers and clients. First of all, it makes getting hired a lot easier if people see you as someone who will fit in with the team well (you do spend a lot of time together). As far as clients, as one of my partners puts it "I only hire people that I would feel comfortable putting infront of one of my clients and they won't embarrass me." Fair enough. That being said, as a junior accountant, you will be crunching a lot of numbers, both in office and at your clients. Progressing up the ladder, client relationship skills become more and more important. Making partner is all about bringing in new business and keeping old clients happy.
6. A pet peeve of mine is political correctness. Anyone have any horror stories about the big four or other accounting firms regarding fraudulent sexual harassment claims or other over-the-top political correctness policies?
I've never thought of it of being overly politically correct. Haven't heard of anyone else complain of this.
7. I understand that the Chartered Accountant Designation is respected internationally. Does anyone here have any experience spending a lot of time abroad as an accountant? How difficult is it to move from one country to another as an accountant? Do laws and policies change a lot or is it pretty uniform?

Generally pretty easy earlier in your career in my experience (manager or below). Certain things will make it easier (i.e. moving to a country that uses IFRS or knowing a skills that's universal, including consulting, international tax, etc.).

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