Are you at a crossroads in your professional life, contemplating a possible change in career direction?
The prospect of switching careers can be both daunting and exhilarating. It’s a journey filled with challenges and opportunities, and for many, it’s a path less travelled. If you’re considering accountancy as your second career, here’s a quick guide that might make the transition smoother and more rewarding.
Why Consider Accountancy?
Whatever your reasons for wanting to explore the idea of accountancy as a second career, it might help solidify your thoughts to consider some of the particular benefits to becoming an accountant or accounting technician.
- Stability and Demand: Accountancy is a profession that’s always in demand at all levels from sole traders needing help with bookkeeping right up to global corporations wanting financial analysis. This need stays stable, regardless of economic conditions. Where there is business, there’s need for accountancy. It could even be argued that the need is even greater when economic conditions are at their most challenging.
- Transferable Skills: Many skills acquired in your previous career are transferable to accountancy. Critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills are invaluable in this field.
- Career Growth: Accountancy offers a clear career path. Starting as an accounts assistant, you can work your way up to positions like chartered accountant, auditor, or financial analyst, opening doors to higher earning potential. There is the opportunity to go as high as you want, or stop when you reach your personal level of job satisfaction.
Steps to Move into Accountancy
Understanding and appreciating the fundamental benefits of an accounting career is one thing. Forming a workable plan to help you make the change is something else. Here’s a brief outline of some of the steps to consider.
1. Research and Self-Assessment
Start by researching the field of accountancy. Learn about the different specialisations within the profession, such as auditing, tax accounting, or management accounting. Assess your strengths and interests to determine which area aligns best with your skills and goals as well as your personal strengths and weaknesses. Understanding and knowing yourself, alongside understanding the various roles available, will help you make the right choices.
2. Education and Training
Not all accounting courses require a relevant degree. However, if your previous career doesn’t already provide a foundation in accounting, you’ll need to start at the beginning by gaining some relevant certification. Many universities and colleges offer flexible programs, together with the option to study accounting online. This is a boon to career changers who may have existing family and work commitments.
Building a network in the accountancy field is helpful. Attend industry events, join professional organisations if you can, and connect with those already working in the field on platforms like LinkedIn. Networking can open doors to job opportunities and valuable mentorship as well as giving you a bit of insight into the character of the work.
4. Gain Practical Experience
Internships or entry-level positions can provide you with hands-on experience in accountancy. Even if you’re starting at a lower level, the experience you gain is invaluable and can help you progress quickly. You could volunteer with charities or offer bookkeeping services to local startups. Ask around locally, and don’t forget to put out feelers through your network.
Your Foundation or Diploma Certificate will qualify you for entry level positions such as accounts assistant or accounts payable clerk. Depending on your career goals there are many higher qualifications and certifications within accounting. Each will help you progress up the career ladder, enhancing credibility and earning potential.
6. Update Your Resumé and Cover Letter
Use a practice resumé and cover letter to highlight transferable skills and emphasise how they make you an asset in the field of accountancy. This is a good idea even before you start thinking about job hunting as it can highlight gaps in your knowledge or areas you need to think more about. As you gain knowledge you can fill in the gaps so you can clearly see your progress.
7. Prepare for Interviews
Interviews can be challenging for everyone whether you’re a school leaver or you’ve been working for a while and are out of practice at interviewing. It can help to familiarise yourself with some of the types of questions you might be asked, along with potential answers.
Switching to accountancy as a second career is an exciting journey. Yes, it requires commitment and effort but so does anything worthwhile. It’s more than finding a new job, it’s opening up doors to your future fulfilment and financial stability. Stay open to learning, embrace the challenges and accept guidance from existing professionals if you’re lucky enough to be offered it.
Will you choose accountancy as your second career? It could be the best decision you’ve ever made.