I recently supported my brother in transitioning from an accountant to an IT Business Analyst within three months. He got tired of accounting and wanted a more challenging role that would help him achieve his financial ambitions. He now earns triple his earnings as an accountant and is much happier.
So what do you do when you want to transition from accounting to technology? First, validate that a career in technology is what you want, then decide what type of technology career you want. Connect with other professionals with a similar background and build the foundational knowledge in your chosen technology career path. Acquire new work experience, update your professional brand assets and position yourself for your new role.
Now, technology might seem very different from accounting, but you might be surprised at how some of the skills and experiences you’ve gained as an accountant over the years can help you in transitioning to a career in technology.
Read on as I break down the steps to a successful career change from accounting to technology and some alternate career paths in technology that are more relevant to someone with an accounting or finance background.
5 Steps to take to Transition from Accounting to Technology
With the accounting expertise that you already have, you can transition from accounting to technology through the following steps;
#1. Validate your new career choice
It is essential that you validate your career choice in technology before you invest all the time, energy, and resources to chase this path.
This is important because if, for example, you are leaving your career in accounting because it is too analytical, you will not have fun in an IT career that requires lots of analytical thinking.
The best way to do this is to make sure you know your priorities and clearly state them. In a way, it’s like dating. Everyone (I think ) has their must-haves and must-not-haves in a partner.
People who are happy with their work are very clear with their priorities and values and make sure their career fits around those priorities. The people who are unhappy with their situations have a disconnect.
Validating your career path means that you are sure that it is the path that you want and are willing to devote the energy and effort to transition into this role.
After my Ph.D., I was pretty sure that a career in academics was not for me. But I wasn’t sure what to do next.
I spent some time doing some self-reflection where I listed my priorities, goals, and values. At the time, my number one priority was money because I had spent four years as a Ph.D. student and felt I had a lot of financial grounds to recover. 😉
Also, work-life balance was important because I had a very young family, and I wanted to be around them. This ruled out a career in consulting, which I was strongly considering.
I eventually ended up with a career map that led me into a career in technology as a Business Analyst, and I have never looked back.
I distilled the process into a career validation map that I share freely with anyone who is thinking of a new career path.
Use my career validation map to validate that a career in technology is right for you
Brian Tracy once said Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and priorities are in balance.
#2. Speak to other IT professionals (especially with accounting background):
This is useful because it further validates your choice of career in IT and also uncovers nuggets that you wouldn’t get from elsewhere. Such as how to position yourself.
It is also always valuable to increase your network as you never know where that opportunity could lead you.
On the other hand, you might find out through the personal experience of someone else that isn’t quite all Rosey in IT land. Learn from others’ mistakes (my dad always said!)
I explain below:
- Search for your target IT career e.g. Business Analyst in the search field.
- Click All Filters to open all the filter fields.
- Include your location (optional)
- In the school section, tick off ACCA and CIMA or just one of them.
You essentially are asking LinkedIn to show you people who are currently Business Analysts and have ACCA or CIMA qualifications. From my brothers’ experience, I know ACCA and CIMA are highly rated professional accreditations for accountants and professionals deeply involved with finance.
#3. Build foundational knowledge in Technology
Technology is a vast field, and even when you have identified the path in technology you want to go down, it is highly likely that you lack the fundamental knowledge to perform the role.
A good step to take next is to build up that grassroots knowledge in your chosen tech role.
These are skills that experience in accounting may not give you. Getting and building the right foundational knowledge is a good way to start your career in technology.
There are many places you can go to begin to build that fundamental knowledge, but a good place I always recommend to start is Udemy because it is inexpensive.
#4. Identify and package your transferable skills
As an accountant, you possess skills that are going to be valuable to your career in IT.
Some outstanding skills that accountants possess include:
- Problem solving
- Attention to detail
- Proficiency in IT
- Analytical ability
Package up those skills to fit in your role in technology so that you can project yourself as an experienced and valuable applicant.
The transferable skills that you have might have been used for a different role and purpose in accounting, but you must show how these skills can be realigned to fit in technology.
#5. Acquire new work experience
Most employers will want to see that you have relevant technical experience and not just transferable skills from your previous career.
As a result, you would have to get the tech experience needed for the job.
Here are some ideas on how to quickly gain new work experience
Ways to get experience in technology
A. Take up a tech role in your company
So many people who transitioned from accounting to tech have mentioned that they apply for tech roles in their company when they feel like changing careers.
You can apply to your company’s technical department, and you may be considered for the job.
However, you should ensure that you have taken up relevant courses or training that’ll make you fit for the role, especially because your company already knows you as an account officer.
Apply for a tech role in your company, and some people have kick-started their career in tech this way.
B. Take courses online
there are courses online in technology such as programming, coding, website creation, or design that you can take.
This coursework includes interactive classes, completing a project, or several tasks. These tasks or projects can serve as your own work experience, and they are very valid.
You can package it as experience on your CV and in your applications. You can also showcase the projects on your social media platforms, especially LinkedIn.
You can find some good courses on these core technical skills, Skillshare and Skillcrush. You can also check online learning platforms such as Udemy or Coursera for more courses in any IT field.
C. Start taking on simple tech tasks
Once you have taken some relevant technology courses, you can start offering technical services to people so you can build your portfolio and show proof that you have some work experience.
You can take ‘beginner projects’ that will be helpful to individuals or businesses that need technical help.
So many technical experts got their work experience starting as a freelancer, including myself.
It will help you to also develop those skills as you’re practicing what you have learned and will get feedback from clients, which will help you improve.
You can build a personal website for your freelance business to showcase your work or projects.
You can keep building creative things and using them as a means to get better at what you do.
Most clients or businesses would love to see a website developer who has not only built a site but has also developed it before, so this is one of the best ways to get yourself experience in technology before applying for bigger roles.
Bonus Tip #6. Update professional brand assets
Now that you are certain about your new career path, you should update your professional brand outlook and assets.
This involves updating your skills both on paper and online, i.e., your CV/resume and Linkedin profile respectively. They are essential in positioning yourself for a good role in technology.
Update your records with new relevant courses, training, and experience that you have acquired.
Your professional brand asset will say a lot about you, so it should project you exactly how you want to be perceived.
Alternative career path in technology for Accountants
Since you now have an insight into how you can transition from accounting to technology, you may need to know the alternative career paths in technology that you can take up with a background in accounting.
Computer programmers require mathematical skills, problem-solving, and communication skills. These skills are passed by most accountants and thus could make a good computer programmer.
IT Project Manager
As an IT project manager, you are responsible for managing the planning and delivery of IT projects. While you don’t have to do the programming yourself, you do need to know the basics of what’s happening on the technical side of the project.
As an accountant, you will be very valuable for managing accounting software-related projects.
If you prefer working with computer hardware, consider a computer technician or help desk support career. Computer technicians require patience, an analytical and process-oriented approach, and detective-like troubleshooting skills.
IT Business Analyst
IT Business analysts are responsible for gathering requirements from the business and translating them into formats that the programmers can work on. I personally know many accountants who have switched to IT Business Analysts roles.
Accountants are great for this role because they require communication skills, analytical mindset, and stakeholder management skills.
Software Quality Tester
Software testers guarantee that software products are high quality before being released to the public. They require attention to detail skills and detective-like analytical skills, which are skills possessed by many accountants.
This is a field in technology that needs vigilance and attention to detail as soft skills. Apart from having the technical skills needed for a career in cyber security, there are skills that companies will look out for in individuals with these soft skills.
If you’re transitioning from accounting to technology, cyber security is a path you should consider taking.
Business Intelligence Analyst / Data Analyst
BI or Data Analyst professions are ideal for people who enjoy analyzing large data sets, recognizing trends, and communicating their findings in simple terms. Last time I checked, this is somewhat what accountants do Right?
Major transferable skills that you should have in transitioning to technology
Transitioning to technology would require that you have several technical skills.
Here is a list of major technical skills that apply to technology that you should have;
- Critical thinking helps you to be able to analyze issues logically and this is a required skill that you should have if you’re transitioning to tech.
- Interpersonal interaction skills are important in helping customers and even in relating with your teammates and supervisors.
- Problem Solving is another important transferable skill that deals with critically analyzing a problem to bring a solution.
- Communication is important in tech as it helps sharpen your listening and writing skills as you continue to relate with your teammates and job supervisor
- Teamwork or collaboration through collaborative apps such as is a required skill in tech especially because an increasing number of people are working remotely. This is required to keep team connection and smooth communication running.
- Attention to detail is another transferable skill needed for a career in technology. It is important to pay maximum attention in a field such as cybersecurity and others.
Changing career from accounting to technology might seem like a big jump at first, but on a closer look, it is very achievable. In this article, we covered the steps required to make a smooth transition from accounting to a career in technology.
We touched on some IT career options that will suit accountants and covered some transferrable skills required to be an IT professional.
I’ll leave you with these parting thoughts; all of this advice and guidance will be useless if you do not take any action.
Take a tiny step towards your goal today.
To your success!✌️