Getting started in the accounting industry can be a tall order.
It can seem like there are an endless number of accounting principles, rules, and regulations to learn, not to mention getting used to working with colleagues and clients alike on projects.
However, the benefits of entering the field are myriad. The accounting job market continues to grow and is projected to reach 6% growth over the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This guide helps make that transition a bit easier by helping you find the entry-level accounting job that will put you on the right track towards a successful progression in accounting.
Entry level accounting jobs to kickstart your career
Before we jump into the different types of entry-level accounting jobs you can pursue, it’s important that you first determine a plan of attack. Decide if you want to pursue specific fields within the industry, such as private vs. public accounting. Do you want to start out at a big four firm? Or is a more unique start in a field such as forensic accounting more your speed?
The good news with entry-level accounting jobs is that you do not need to be a CPA to find good work in accounting. If becoming a certified public accountant is in your plans for the future, there are a few different paths you can take to gain work experience first.
Here are some entry-level jobs that will launch your career in the accounting industry:
Let’s start with the most straightforward path to getting started in the accounting industry. Landing a job at a public accounting firm is a rigorous and competitive process, but it can put you on the fast track for achieving higher goals in the field, such as becoming a CPA. At the entry level, this position within public accounting is typically that of a junior associate, and typically requires a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
Typical job duties as an entry-level public accountant include preparing tax information, reading through financial data to track compliance and accuracy, and creating reports. An entry level position in public accounting also emphasizes the use of accounting software when working on complex projects for tracking the financial information of clients both large and small in size.
An accounting assistant, while less high-profile than working for a public accounting firm, is also a valuable entry-level position for gaining experience in the accounting profession. In this role, which typically requires a bachelor’s degree in accounting, one typically works under a senior accountant at a private or public company, performing basic bookkeeping duties, filing records, and billing. An accounting assistant also will work with financial institutions over the phone to sort out any discrepancies or questions related to making sure accounts are balanced and there are available funds for spending.
Essential skills for this role include high attention levels and effective communication skills. Accounting assistants frequently juggle multiple tasks at the same time, and need to be diligent in their work as well as clear in communicating with the senior accountant above them about timelines and progress of getting things done.
An entry-level role as a budget analyst will also put your accounting education and knowledge to the test. In this role, you will track the payroll and company spend for a private company or organization to forecast budget expectations.
What makes this role unique in comparison to other entry level accounting positions is the high-level nature of the lens it takes to assess a company’s financial accounting needs. A budget analyst can tap into predictive accounting and business analytics for insight as to how a company’s budget will play out over the coming accounting periods in order to make an informed diagnosis.
In a similar vein to the accounting assistant role is that of an accounting clerk. However, if you do not possess a bachelor’s degree in accounting, this position is an easier role to obtain at an entry level. An accounting clerk prepares and maintains financial accounting documents for an accounting department at a business in addition to taking a jack-of-all-trades mentality across the company’s accounting needs. Tasks can range from preparing bank deposits to tracking and filing client contracts to entering financial transactions into a database.
An accounting clerk position is a great way for an entry-level accounting professional to be trained in all aspects of the accounting field. While the position does not require a formal accounting educational background, the valuable experience that one can gain as an accounting clerk can be essential to moving up in the industry.
An entry-level role as a bookkeeper is also a valuable first rung on the ladder of an accounting career if you are approaching from a position of little to no formal accounting education. Much of a bookkeeper’s day-to-day responsibilities center on data entry and keeping track of customer and client accounts by tracking costs and income. Bookkeepers use this data entry to generate reports for senior accountants, managers, and clients.
This position is also versatile in nature, as the types of data that bookkeepers prepare can vary from project to project and company to company. For this reason, an entry-level role as a bookkeeper is another valuable way to gain accounting experience begin to build up a reputation in the industry without formal education.
Time to enter the industry!
There is no shortage of roles that will be available in the accounting field over the coming years, and you have the opportunity to take a number of different angles in trying to find the entry position level that is right for your skills and interests. One thing to always keep in mind when entering the accounting field is what it will take to fulfill the CPA requirements should you decide to go down the route of becoming a certified public accountant.