So you have been a teacher for the past few years and for personal reasons, you have decided that you would like to make a career change to accounting.
To change your career from teaching to accounting, the first thing to do is to research and validate that a career in Accounting is what you want. Find and connect with other accountants with teaching backgrounds, then educate yourself on accounting concepts. Package your transferrable skills and acquire new work experience.
Making a career change can be a daunting task, particularly transitioning from teaching to accounting. In this post, I break down the steps required to make a smooth and successful transition to accounting.
Steps to Transition from Teaching to Accounting
Step 1. Research and validate your Accounting career choice
As you consider a career in accounting, it’s important to research what the role of the accounting professional entails.
This requires having a good understanding of the different types of accounting roles that exist and the day-to-day activities that are carried out as part of being an accountant.
Major areas in accounting
Before you make a career change to accountancy, you need to know what accounting is really about and the different areas that you can specialize in. The major areas in accounting that you should know about are;
- Auditing: This involves conducting an independent analysis of the financial report of a company for financial feedback and to ensure that the company is not going against applicable rules and guidelines. It is usually done by a third party. Different types of auditors carry out this function and they are;
- Internal auditors carry out auditing to ensure that financial reports are in line with the company’s regulations.
- External auditors independently examine compliance with financial rules and regulations in external organizations.
- Tax Accounting: is regulated by the Internal Revenue Code and helps businesses or organizations stay in line with all tax rules. A tax accountant can also offer tax advice about compliance with the tax rules and regulations to prevent tax liabilities.
- Management Accounting: this involves providing financial assistance in form of advice to the organization that will aid its financial planning and helps the company make high-level decisions.
- Cost Accounting: this involves documenting and accessing the costs of running the business. Cost accountants review both fixed and variable costs incurred in the course of production and determine the break-even points.
They also report this information to the management to help them make better plans and decisions.
- Financial Accounting: this involves compiling financial information of an organization for financial reports such as auditing. Financial accountants that all financial activities are reported and filed including financial transactions that have already occurred.
- Public Accounting: in public accounting, different types of accounting services from auditing, tax advisory, preparation, and consultations on business strategies, acquisitions, mergers, among others.
Public accountants provide these services to organizations or businesses based on their needs which can auditing, assistance with tax returns, bookkeeping, and payroll services.
- Forensic Accounting: Forensic accounting involves investigating the financial activities of individuals and businesses.
It is done by gathering and accurately reporting all transactions in financial statements. It is most often used by an attorney, police departments, businesses, banks to complete financial reports. It can be used in solving disputes or for legal cases.
- Governmental Accounting: this is governed by the Government Accounting Standard Board (GASB) and is involved in the allocation of resources to departments within the local, state, and federal governments.
It also involves monitoring a government’s financial plan and allocating funds accordingly. In government accounting, expenses are tracked differently to accurately monitor how money is being spent.
Step 2. Network with Accountants with Teaching Background
As you research the accounting career, connect and speak with other accountants who have a similar background in teaching just like you.
This is useful because it further validates your choice of career in Accounting and also uncovers nuggets that you wouldn’t get from elsewhere. Such as how to position yourself.
It also unveils the day-to-day requirement for accountants. Furthermore, it is always a good idea to increase your network as you never know where that opportunity could lead you.
Doing this builds what I call a possibility mentality.
A possibility mentality is a mental state you acquire from other people's success stories. Particularly when they've been through a similar journey as you or have a similar background to you.
When you see an accounting professional who has had many years of experience as a teacher, you’re motivated to put in the work to reach your goal. That is the possibility mentality.
Not everyone is able to just have a goal and aim for it. Some of us have to actually look around to see if others have actually achieved this goal.
I personally seek people who have a similar journey as me because then I’m able to say to myself, if he/she can do it, I can do it.
Step 3. Get Training and Accounting Education
Accounting is different from teaching and there are accounting specific terminologies and concepts that you need to understand to perform well in your new role.
A good place to start is to find a program or course that fits your needs and schedule. You can find many programs online, or even in your local community.
It’s important to find a program that provides you with the skills you need for your career goals.
Once you’ve identified your accounting specialty, you have a few options
Earn a bachelor’s degree
Bachelor’s degrees are required for entry-level accounting jobs. A bachelor’s degree in accounting will allow you to learn about accounting rules and theories.
During this time, you would learn the fundamentals, including Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Additionally, you would take classes like auditing.
If you’re majoring in accounting, you may also consider an internship at a company. A large number of accountants end up hiring their interns as full-time employees. For example, Deloitte hires over 3,000 interns a year, many of whom are hired as full-time employees at the firm.
Earn a Masters in Accounting degree
Despite the rapid growth of the global market for accounting services, the field continues to be competitive.
To work at major corporations and compete for prestigious roles, you must stand out from the competition. Experience and education are fundamental to this.
If you can’t afford to give full time to on-campus education, evaluate whether an accounting master’s degree is right for you. Earning a master’s in accounting can improve your understanding of the market and improve your earning potential. Additionally, it shows your work ethic, determination, and mental acuity to employers.
If you have a bachelor’s degree even in an unrelated course to accounting, you may be able to apply to a master’s in accounting program.
Having to study a minimum amount will come in handy. Beware of the different graduate accounting programs out there so you can see what schools would permit you to apply your bachelor’s degree to their master’s degree in accounting program.
Get an accounting certification.
As an accountant, pursue certification to enhance your skill level and credibility as a professional. Accounting certifications are generally available and you can earn more than one.
The CPA certification is the most widely recognized, but there are others such as Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and Enrolled Agent (EA) that can also help boost your accounting career.
Step 4. Acquire Accounting Experience
You need relevant work experience to work as an accountant.
Most employers wish to see that you have relevant experience from your previous profession, not just transferable skills.
- Internships and apprenticeships are a great way to gain this experience, and some accounting firms offer them.
- Volunteering is another option to consider. Find a charity and volunteer to support using your accounting skills. I personally started my career in technology in my local church.
Your local church will be pleased to have you join and help in the finance department.
- Another way to get relevant work experience is to join a startup company. Once you have gained enough knowledge in the your chosen career path in accounting, you can join a startup company and support them in the area of finance.
Some startups might be selective but most are happy to have someone support them in area where they might not have focused on.
Step 5. Update your Professional Assets
You’re ready to position and proclaim yourself to the world once you’ve completed the appropriate education and acquired the relevant education.
It’s critical to take this step so that employers perceive you through the lens of your newly selected professional path rather than your prior experience.
To reflect your new career, update your professional assets such as your CV and LinkedIn profile.
Include your new work experience as well as the education you’ve received.
Reframe your previous experience to meet the needs of your new position. Reframing your previous work experience emphasizes the experiences that are applicable to your new financial position.
If you have a personal website, keep it up to date, as well as any other materials with which employers will interact.
5 perks of working as an accountant
Beginning a career in accounting can be both fulfilling and rewarding. There are many things that you stand to enjoy when you start working as an accountant.
Some of these perks may not be evident immediately you start working in the field but with consistency and diligence, you will enjoy the many benefits in the field.
Here are some of the perks you stand to enjoy by working in the accounting field;
1. Attractive Income
accountants make a great income and are well catered for by the organizations they work with. The reported average national salary is about $55,000 per year in January 2021.
The payment is also dependent on many factors such as the qualification, state, years of experience, the expertise of the accountant. Other perks include health insurance, vacations, among others.
The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median annual wage for accountants and auditors was $73,560 in May 2020.
A good and stable income is one of the good sides of working as an accountant.
2. Ability to work anywhere
nearly every company or organization needs an accountant which means that an accountant will not run out of options easily.
They also have the liberty to choose where they want to work which can vary from technology to even agriculture.
You choose to work in multiple industries such as finance, business, law, teaching, management without compromising your output in any of them. This further increases your earning potential.
3. Multiple fields to choose from
the field has a broad scope and so has different areas that you can specialize in. If you realize that you are more interested in a particular field, you can specialize in the field.
You can choose to be an auditor, forensic accountant, public accountant, financial accountant, managerial accountant, and others.
4. It is highly demanded
most organizations need an accountant to work with them. The role of an accountant is not a general one that anyone can do.
It requires a high level of expertise as most people don’t know how to handle their taxes and businesses need professionals to manage their tax reporting and management.
Some families also demand the services of an accountant for their retirement plan and to give them a financial plan in managing their finances.
You will almost not run out of jobs as an accountant as a result of this. It is also important to expand your level of expertise so you can be valuable to organizations and families.
5. You can start on your own:
As an accountant, you can build your firm and be your boss. Not every industry gives this opportunity but this is possible in accounting.
However, to start your own company as an accountant, you have to get your Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license.
However, if you are just starting, you may want to give yourself some time to learn the curves before deciding to explore the entrepreneurial side of the field.
Disadvantages of working in accounting
As good as accounting may seem, it also has its disadvantages which you should know about if you’re interested in starting a career in accounting. The disadvantages include;
- If you are not fully certified or don’t have a degree in accounting, you may not be able to as much as a fully certified and experienced accountant will earn. Most employers often look for people who are highly knowledgeable and skilled in the field to give offer them expert services. The
field is not so kind to newbies so you will have to ensure you get yourself certified and gather relevant experiences to boost your earning potential.
- Accountants are most times required to work with tight deadlines while not compromising quality with speed. They have to work hard and fast to ensure that they don’t miss important deadlines to avoid audits and fines.
- Accountants have to be highly meticulous in their jobs and show a high level of attention to detail. If there is any form of alteration in their work, they may be liable and charged with fraud.
Also, a single mistake in a report can alter the whole report and will require that you redo the report. This can be overwhelming and frustrating sometimes.
- A career in accounting means that you will have to continue learning even after you have been fully certified. This is mostly because you will have to keep up with the changes in the industry.
You have to stay abreast of new laws and regulations in the industry so continuous learning is required.
Top 6 accounting skills that you’d need
- Communication: this is an important skill that is needed in accounting because accountants work with colleagues on most projects.
This means that they have to explain and pass across the most complex information most simply. You should develop this skill if you are starting a career in accounting.
- Initiative: taking initiative shows that you can function well with little or no supervision. This is important if you decide to build your firm.
- Integrity: the responsibility that is placed on an accountant is one that required trust. Your employer will be able to trust you when you display an undisputed level of integrity.
- Time Management: As mentioned earlier, accountants work with tight deadlines so you have to be able to manage your time well.
This way you will not be easily overwhelmed thereby compromising the quality of your work. When you manage your time well as an accountant, your employer will be able to entrust you with a higher position and responsibilities that may come with many benefits.
- Critical Thinking and Analysis: This is a highly required skill as it helps you assess issues and provide lasting solutions.
Changing your career from teaching to accounting is possible and only you can make that change. The information in this article will help you make a successful transition into any field in accounting that you are genuinely interested in.
With this, you can increase your earning potential, have a great work-life balance, and perhaps start your accounting firm sometime.