How to Advance Your Accounting Career

As a new accountant, the world is your oyster. You might become the head of an accounting department, a chief financial officer, or the partner in a respected accounting firm. But how do you get there? Put these tips to use as you work to advance your career in the accounting field.

Get More Qualifications

How to Advance Your Accounting Career

Image via Flickr by 401(K) 2013

Additional qualifications can help you broaden your skill set, deepen your knowledge of specific areas, and give you a competitive edge over your peers. With the rise of e-learning, it’s possible to study for advanced degrees, like a Master of Science in Accounting, online. This coursework gives you the flexibility you need to juggle your accounting career and further studies.

A Master of Science in Accounting degree is a great option that prepares you for the certified public accountant (CPA) examination, which can help you land a more prestigious job. Studies done by Hudson Financial show that CPAs earn 5 percent more, on average, than accountants without a CPA. The CPA exam will also help you prepare for more specialized qualifications like the Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), and Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certifications.

Hone Your Soft Skills

You are more than your resume. Advancing in the accounting field takes both qualifications and soft skills. These soft skills include communication, leadership qualities, and the ability to work as part of a team.

If you feel you’re weak in any of these areas, consider ways you can work on them. For example, if you struggle with public speaking, you might like to join your local Toastmasters club. Leadership development workshops and seminars can also help empower people lacking in these skills. Taking up a team sport is a great way to practice teamwork.

Get Networking

It’s not what you know, but who you know. That adage still holds weight in the finance world. If your only professional connections are the people in your department, you’re limiting your chances of advancement.

Creating a large network of business contacts is invaluable, whether you’re seeking out a new role or professional advice. Never turn down an invitation to an industry event and make sure you mingle. Join professional associations, like CPAmerica, so you can attend their conferences and roundtables.

In the modern world, networking doesn’t occur only in the offline environment. Websites like LinkedIn provide valuable networking opportunities.

Remember, though, that networking is about forming mutually beneficial relationships. Ensure you’re there for the members of your network when they need you, and they’ll be sure to do the same for you.

Find a Mentor

Your networking may lead you to a special mentoring relationship that can help you advance your career. A finance professional who has traveled a similar career path to the one you aspire to reach can potentially teach you valuable lessons you won’t learn in any classroom.

If a mentor doesn’t come naturally through your networking efforts, investigate whether your company has a mentorship program. Your co-workers may also have some helpful suggestions.

With some hard work and the right attitude, your accounting skills could help take you to a high-paying job in the financial field.