More Demand Than Ever

Accounting: A degree every employer could love.

September 24, 2007
Sponsored by DeVry Keller

If the stereotype of a “nerdy bean counter” still comes to mind when you think of an accountant, think again. They’re not just boring number-crunchers anymore. Today, accountants work in a variety of environments besides accounting firms — anywhere from advertising agencies to entertainment firms to restaurant chains. With the rise in corporate and financial scandals, accountants have become even more in demand.

An education in accounting gives you a strong, general knowledge of how businesses work, and every company, no matter what the size or specialty, can appreciate that. In the past, accountants were dedicated to ensuring that the financial aspects of a business ran efficiently, that their public records were kept accurately and their taxes were paid properly and on time. Now, the job of accountants is broadening and the role they play and the services they offer include such things as budget analysis, financial and investment planning and information technology consulting.

When individuals have accounting knowledge, they can oversee anything from software development for IT departments to the management of the accounts payable function, keeping the “bottom line” in mind. Some may fear that advancements in accounting technology means fewer jobs in the field of accounting, but this is not true. If anything, sophisticated financial software has allowed accountants to apply their knowledge in a broader manner in the business world. Contemporary accountants can now fulfill many tasks: Recommend and oversee software development, work in accounts receivable or payable where they monitor resources to stay on budget, use programs to analyze huge volumes of data to detect hidden patterns, detect customer behavior relationships and provide valuable financial insights to others. Because of this, an accounting background is highly-valued in both traditional financial careers, as well as nontraditional career paths.

In fact, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, passed in 2002, has assured that accounting will remain an integral part of the business world for a long time to come. This Act is part of the regulatory aftermath due to the demise of many large corporations (e.g. Enron and Arthur Andersen). The Sarbanes-Oxley Act established a public accounting oversight board to ensure that a company’s funds are being managed appropriately and legally. Specifically, this Act revised corporate governance standards, added new disclosure requirements and created new federal crimes related to fraud.

This legislation has increased the need for well-trained accountants and there has been a noted rise in demand for them. With corporations and accounting firms having a lot more work to do in order to ensure compliance, they need to hire more accountants. And since degrees can be earned at a Bachelor’s or an Associate degree level, accounting works as a strong career path for many people.

Individuals who earn Bachelor’s degrees often hold management positions in financial and business institutions. They can also hold nontraditional positions such as project managers at the local coffeehouse or a favorite recording company. In fact, many of today’s big names in business started out as accountants. For example, Phil Knight, founder and chair of Nike, is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). So is Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons.

Accountants with an Associate degree have the knowledge, skills and abilities to function as entry-level professionals in a wide range of positions in public accounting corporations, nonprofit organizations or government agencies. These individuals understand the principles of financial accounting and reporting, managerial accounting, personal taxation and the required technology behind accounting. Because accounting has changed from solely focusing on costing to include management, process-view analyses, constraint checking and business process analyses, there is a lot more intricacy to accounting these days.

So now, more than ever, the need for people with accounting backgrounds is on the rise. The accounting field is expanding so quickly that CNN Money named accounting one of its Top 10 growth fields. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the need for accountants will grow up to 17 percent in 2007, signaling the rapid expansion of this specialized field.

For more information, visit DeVry Keller.