Career Options for CPAs

Accounting is a stable field and a safe career path for many. People view accountants as highly-paid number-crunchers working in polished offices for big companies. The image is true for the most part, but just like any other profession, there is no absolute general picture of an accountant and what he or she does. Accountants’ works are all different depending on their particular industry and industry size. Kunin gives some of the career options accountants have. Future accountants have four major career options to choose from.

They can choose to work with numbers in (1) large public firms (LPF), (2) small public firms (SPF), (3) large private companies (LPC), or in (4) small private companies (SPC). The four options have different benefits and kinds of working environment. Each one also has its own challenges and demands. Large publics firms are highly hierarchical and systematic with work due to the big number of employees. Employee development is very specialized since projects responsibilities are always compartmentalized for faster and less costly processing.

Clients of LPF are usually big publicly-held companies themselves. The benefits of working in LPF are high compensation and better workplace stability. On the other hand, small public firms will form generalist accountants. Fewer employees mean more chances to familiarize and practice all aspects of accounting. The SPF working environment is more personal, making it possible to find a mentor who will diligently train a young accountant. However, this is the exception rather than the rule since most people will be too busy working and doing their own jobs to train a newbie.

The setting can work for people who enjoy learning by experience or those that already have work experiences, but no so much for fresh graduates. A large private company has a very systematic work environment with formal interviews and performance reviews. Working in LPC, one can choose from two general career paths. The first is a financial accounting role, which deals with ledger and reporting functions, while the other is a management position that focuses more on budgets and analytic functions.

The downside to working for LPC is constant worry about possibilities of bankruptcy, mergers, and acquisition. However, one of the best rewards for accountants working in LPC who have good track records and high management skills is the chance of being promoted to CEO. Small private companies may only have one or a small group of accountants. Thus, the selected one or few that they hire are expected to be already experienced and well-versed in all accounting aspects. One can experience more freedom working in SPC due to the flexible work schedule and more fulfillments because of increased responsibility.

However, the SPC work space is also more erratic and unstructured. Employees may also find business decisions to be too personal. The owner may choose to promote those he or she favors rather than the hardworking ones and recruit mostly relatives and friends. Accounting is a profession that I am very interested and working hard to pursue. However, the actual practice of accounting is still unclear to me. There are so many choices of business and industries, making the prospects of working become daunting and confused.

Reading through Kunin’s descriptions of the four most common accounting career options has helped me shape my vision for my future career. Armed with some information and expectations, I can map out my career goals knowledgeably and with some certainty. At present, I am most attracted working in the Accounts Payable field of Accounting. I also have some experiences on that aspect and would like to supplement my experiences more. I want to start out as an Accounts Payable clerk for a large public firm to gain needed experience.

Working in LPF will be a good introduction to the real world of accounting. It will allow me to practice the basic aspects of accounting. LPF provides excellent trainings where new employees can learn about documentation, reconciliation, and analysis of accounts. The hierarchy in LPF assures me of constant, continuous, and non-stagnant learning and rising level of responsibilities. LPF needs their employees focused on one particular specialization. I will choose to specialize in Accounts Payable. Specializations will let me find my niche early on.

I can realistically hope to come out of working in LPF technically proficient and with an immediate specialty. Working for a big firm will also allow me to enhance my people and communication skills, which will be useful later in going for a management position. In a few years, I hope to progress in my field and climb higher up the corporate ladder. I want to move up from being an Accounts Payable clerk to an Accounts Payable team lead. By improving on all aspects of my skill, I can also aspire to become an Accounting manager.

I plan to stay with a large company for most of my career. I would prefer to work for a large private company because I appreciate succeeding through hard work and not because my boss favors my personality. I may always encounter the possibility of mergers and acquisition while working in LPC, but I know that my capacity for diligence and doing excellent work will see me through. I will move to working for LPC to experience fresh challenges at work and also to receive a better compensation. Of the two career choices present at LPC, I would choose to go for a management position.

I want to supervise and share my expertise to a younger batch of accountants because eventually, I would want to rest from the corporate rat race. I would either retire comfortably or set up my own accounting and consultation company. I would like to help non-profit organizations by doing accounting jobs for them such as consultations or supervisions of their accountants. Kunin’s article helped me create my career goals. Though there are much details set here, I have a direction and an idea of what I can do and want out of my career and my life.