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Do Accounting Firms Always Prefer a Master’s over a Bachelor’s?

By: Andrew Deen

 

Professional Accountant Calculating Sale Tax Invoice At Desk

Due to the year that was 2020, the U.S. government extended this year’s tax deadline because so many businesses and individuals had to deal with taxes that were, simply put, different, due to COVID-19. For some, it was their first time collecting unemployment, for others who moved to remote work settings, home office space and expenses became write-offs they needed to learn how to use, and just as everything else in 2020, many people just needed a little more time to adjust.

As is the case every year around this time, the importance of accounting takes center stage as businesses aim to ensure every penny spent and earned has been accounted for. Good accounting practices can save companies millions of dollars, and that is one of the many reasons this field is so competitive. It pays well, there is a lot of job security, and for those who like numbers, there tends to be a lot of variety and reward after a high-pressure tax season.

There are several ways to make yourself standout as an aspiring accountant, but given the precise nature of the field, higher education is always something that holds a lot of weight in accounting, and those with a master’s degree in accounting definitely have the best opportunities for jobs, but to say it’s a guarantee would be an overstatement. Here are 3 practices to make yourself stand out to employers as an accountant.

Certifications

Sometimes an official certification can completely take the place of a master’s degree, especially in areas of accounting that are very niche like forensics accounting or non-profit accounting. Many industry experts would recommend a master’s degree as a means of preparing for these certifications, but self-study relative to the certification coupled with a bachelor’s and years of experience can prepare you just as well.

The importance of accounting certifications really depends on the employer, but any and all certs can help make your path easier. Most major corporations and government jobs will require regular certification and recertification, so keep that in mind if those things are deal breakers!

In-Person Communication

Younger generations entering the workforce bring a ton of intangibles to the table, especially surrounding technology and ways to utilize it to maximize efficiencies. However, having spent their whole lives with access to a smartphone, the need for in-person conversation has never been an experience they’ve had. With that, being able to hone and showcase professionalism is another great way to stand out against someone who may have a higher education than you.

Accounting is a meticulous and difficult job, and mistakes get made. Being able to show early that you’re able to confidently own up to your mistakes makes your words hold a lot more weight when you start talking about your successes. Classic traits like looking people in the eye have also become less common, and brushing up on your business skills is a great move in any career!

Web Communication

On the other side of the communication spectrum is internet communications. One of the silver linings of the COVID pandemic was a realization by many companies that their employees can perform at high levels while working remotely. With that, it’s a money-saving option for employers, and a benefit to employees that doesn’t seem to affect work output, and many businesses are expected (and already doing so) to allow employees to continue working remotely.

Accounting is certainly one of the fields that can be done remotely, and being able to showcase skills in web communications is not only a good practice for all employees to see, but a necessity for many who are moving to a remote setting full-time. If you’re unfamiliar with cloud-based project management software or digital communications like Zoom and email etiquette, they are “must-have” skills for anyone hoping to stand out against competition with higher levels of education.

Persist

Even if you get all of the certifications and polish your web and in-person business skills to a shimmering perfection, the reality is that accounting is a competitive field. Don’t let a few “sorry, we went another direction” responses deter you. With the competition comes a lot of opportunity, and with the growing dependence on remote work that also means you can apply for jobs outside of your locale if you’re unwilling to move. Stay confident and informed, and success can come without a master’s degree… but getting one is certainly not a bad idea!

Published: August 9, 2021
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Andrew Deen

Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He implements lean methodology and is currently writing a book about scaling up business. Twitter @AndrewDeen14.

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