6 ways to tell if a career in accountancy is right for you

Nadim Choudhury, Head of Career Services & Employability at London School of Business and Finance (LSBF), discusses how to make the right choices and deal with doubts involved in choosing a career in accountancy.

Taking the first step towards a new career often leaves people with doubts about whether they’re making the right choice. It’s completely normal to question such a big decision, and it’s important that you’re clear about what you’re committing yourself to.

Whilst accountancy is a highly rewarding and interesting career, it can seem very confusing and rigid to those uninformed about it. The job opportunities within this sector aren’t always well highlighted, and you may find yourself wondering if it’s right for you.

Question your own doubts

Firstly, it is important that you realise that you are not alone and that other students are also facing similar doubts. Log on to online student forums and you’ll find others that are asking the same questions that you are; talking things through with people in the same boat as you may set your mind at rest. You should ask yourself if your doubts about the accountancy profession are realistic, or if you have misunderstood it. Keep a diary of your feelings, and evaluate all of the beliefs you hold that may be unhelpful. Writing things down will help you to process your thoughts in a positive way.

Speak to experts

There are a number of different things you can do to feel more informed about accountancy and decide whether you really should commit to it as a career. It is important that you do your research. Any impressions of an accountancy career picked up from popular culture or word-of-mouth are unlikely to be accurate. It might be a good idea to speak to professionals who are currently working within the sector, or to reach out to newly qualified accountants. Their opinions and insights will be invaluable in helping you build a clearer picture of what the profession is like. The best way to get in touch is to reach out via alumni networks, or by contacting people through social media channels.

Research the field

Do as much research as you can about the profession. Watch videos online from real life accountants to get a better idea of what you’ll be expected to do. You should make sure you are commercially aware of what’s going on in the market – seeking and empowering yourself with knowledge that is accurate will help you conquer your doubts, and get you excited about potentially entering this sector.

Set your goals

Making a decision about what you want to do for the rest of your life is a daunting task. A happy and fulfilling work-life balance is the key to achieving and then maintaining happiness. The pressure that is put on young people today to make the right choice about their careers can make it even harder to commit to a single path. A good exercise you can complete to make this clearer involves setting yourself goals. You should begin by laying out some realistic goals based around what you think you’ll need to be happy and content in the future. Then ask yourself what you want from a career. Are these goals the same, and can accounting help you reach these goals? If you are still in doubt, you should try to remember what it was that motivated you to undertake this career path in the first place – this will help you get back on track.

Job security matters

For many, employment security is a big factor. Ask yourself if this is critical to your decision-making process. If it is, then note that, as a sector, accountancy provides a substantial amount of job security. There will always be the need for new accountants – it’s a key career that is often immune from downturns. This should be a factor you consider whilst you are deciding whether it is right for you. The role of an accountant is very diverse, it will suit individuals who genuinely like solving problems, are extremely client driven and are highly numerical. It provides a unique career that, once qualified, means you can practice anywhere in the world – the ACCA qualification is truly global. You should think about how travelling and working away from home factor into your plans for the future.

Career anxiety is normal – you’re not alone!

Fear of failure and societal pressures are very common when embarking on accountancy careers – not everyone can stand the pressure and burn out is very high, especially within the large professional service firms, so it is understandable that many new entrants show signs of anxiety – it’s perfectly normal and in many cases expected!

Many new entrants into the profession are expected to perform well from very early on, this is especially true for new entrants on graduate programmes where there is cohort involved. You’ll be working with other new graduates who are just as good as you, competition is high and those with the right balance of technical and social/interpersonal skills are most likely to succeed.

Accountancy is a wonderful career path with many opportunities and interesting facets. Once you have thought carefully about your options and considered the different factors involved, you will find it much easier to come to an informed decision about accountancy.