For many people looking for employment, the promise of job security is a definite plus. Yet for those just starting out in their job search -- or even just considering their major in college -- finding a job that is going to be financially secure and personally rewarding can be a challenge. For those who have a degree in business or finance, the inclination is sometimes to pursue a "sexier" career in alternate investing or investment banking. But this year alone has seen thousands of layoffs from the most prominent investment banks on Wall Street. In the midst of this continued turmoil, there is a segment of the finance industry that can actually provide both opportunity and stability: accounting.
Traditionally, corporate finance and accounting have not been considered the most glamorous jobs in the financial field -- after all, Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen didn't star in a movie about accountants. Yet, especially in this economic environment, it's a career that's more in demand than ever. Many organizations that conducted layoffs during the recession are now in a position to staff up -- and they're looking first to fill the positions that are absolutely vital to their business, which of course includes accounting functions.
Because of the variety of accounting jobs out there, people with the right background are now in a good position to land a new job or even get a promotion or a raise in an existing one.
There are a variety of other factors contributing to the need for and growth of accountants in the U.S. -- from changing financial laws and an increase in the number of businesses, to greater scrutiny of corporate finance and tighter financial regulations. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, accounting (including bookkeeping services) has actually added 39,000 jobs since the beginning of 2011, compared to the rest of the financial services sector, which has lost 2,000 jobs since the start of this year.
That demand for accounting talent extends to entry-level positions as well. The National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2011 survey cited accounting as one of the careers that is most in demand among employers hiring recent college graduates. In fact, nearly 62 percent of the organizations taking part in the survey said that they had plans to hire accounting graduates. And that need for accounting talent is only expected to grow; as the boomer generation enters retirement, so do a large percentage of certified public accountants. This is actually good news for those just beginning a career because these companies will often encourage their accountants to take the CPA exam and provide either in-house classes or tuition reimbursement.
A career in accounting isn't just about stability though -- and it isn't limited to bookkeeping, tax preparation and managing payroll. It can be a genuinely exciting profession for those who really enjoy numbers and analytics, because together those two things can give you tremendous insight into a company and its business strategy. There's also the possibility of breaking out of the traditional accounting box and becoming a forensic , who helps investigate financial crimes, or an international accountant, who works on the back end of international mergers and acquisitions, or trade agreements.
In this economic environment, it's difficult for job seekers to be optimistic. But those with accounting degrees and backgrounds actually do have a reason to be hopeful. Accountants are a vital part of any organization, and as such they are in high demand, well compensated, and able to translate their skills to work in a number of different areas. In any job environment, that's a winning proposition.
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