Common Myths About Careers in Accounting

Today’s job market is a difficult place for recent college graduates. There are literally millions of qualified professionals out there looking for work, and you and your slim resume will be up against all of them. So the savvy student is choosing a career path that has some amount of built-in job security. The days of spending your entire career with one company and slowly but surely working your way up the corporate ladder may be well in the past, but there are certain careers you can choose that will always be in demand. People always need doctors and lawyers. And regardless of the economic situation, businesses and individuals always need accountants. Yet there are some myths about accountants that keep people from going down that path who might otherwise find it incredibly fulfilling. Here are just a few of the common myths about careers in accounting.

Probably the most prevalent myth is that accounting is boring. While you will be dealing pretty extensively with numbers, equations and reams of paperwork, the wide application of these skills means it is only as boring as you are. People with degrees in accounting can work for the FBI, helping to bring down smuggling rings. Private accountants can work for superstar athletes, actors or musicians, and enjoy a taste of that lifestyle. Accountants can even rise up to become CFOs for international companies, managing literally billions of dollars. You shouldn’t think accounting is automatically boring, as you can always choose the way you want to apply those important skills.

While you should probably enjoy math to pursue a career in accounting, you don’t have to be some sort of math genius. Some students may choose another career because they don’t consider themselves to be a ‘human calculator’, able to manage large groups of numbers in their head. But while math will be a part of your daily life, you will have a lot of tools to rely on. The addition, subtraction, multiplication and division at the heart of bookkeeping will all be done with notes and calculators on hand. You won’t be expected to do any mathematical parlor tricks, and you don’t need to hold yourself to that standard.

Another myth that keeps people from pursuing this career is that accountants are terrible with people. Accounting skill doesn’t automatically make you a ‘nerd’, like in some caricature of the business world. In fact, accountants need well-honed people skills. Many accountants are entrepreneurs who generate new clients through personal connections. You’ll also need people to trust you, and to feel comfortable with their livelihood in your hands. That takes empathy and social skills. So don’t expect to always sit alone in the corner as an accountant.

On the flip side of the equation is the myth that accounting is an easy job with cushy business hours. If this is why you’re exploring this career, think again. You may find a forty-hour work week as an accountant, but that isn’t the norm. If you run your own business you’ll often work extremely long days. And during tax season you’ll barely sleep at all. You may be able to shortcut the degree process by completing a masters in accounting online, but there are no shortcuts to doing an impeccable job for your client. The work and the pay will be consistent, but a laid back work/life balance isn’t always in the cards.

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