Every business deals with money, and somebody has to make sure they’re handling it right. Accounting jobs are always needed, making accounting one of the more stable career paths, but also one of the more competitive.

Here’s how you can go about becoming a professional accountant.

Get trained

Accountants need formal education and accreditation. It takes more than a way with numbers to do the job – accountants need to understand business practice, legislative requirements, tax law and sector-specific financial norms. If you don’t have any formal education in finance, then plan on getting some. If you do, but it’s not recent, then consider if completing a course would bring your skills up to date and help convince employers that you have what it takes and you’re committed to this path.

Brexit is introducing plenty of change to the accounting side of businesses, so it’s a good time to get your foot in the door with timely education. LSBF updates can help you survey the options and pick the programme or course that’s right for your needs.

Mobilise your network

Once you’ve got the right qualifications, spread the word about the kinds of positions in which you’re interested. If you’re a recent graduate or younger professional, then you may feel like you don’t have much of a network to call upon, but don’t underestimate the power of connections.

Peers, schoolmates, friends and family can all provide the introduction you need, so get out there and start asking around. You can also use online networks, but be careful to keep your professional identity clean, and be sure to curate social media to avoid turning potential off employers.

Widen your search

If you’re having trouble finding opportunities, then it may be that you’re looking in the wrong places. If you’re willing to relocate or consider other sectors, then you can strategically target areas that are experiencing a job shortage.

It may also help to treat this as one step in a longer-term plan. You could take an entry-level accounting job in a less desirable location or a sector that you’re less interested in to get your foot in the door, and then use the experience to hop into your preferred location or sector later.

Put on the polish

Accountants are expected to be methodical, reliable and attentive to detail. Your application materials and self-presentation need to be flawless to encourage employers that your work will be similarly careful. Go for conservative and professional attire and submission materials. Either take the time to go over everything with a fine-toothed comb or hire out to someone who can filter out the wrong language, target your credentials properly, and ensure that it’s all free of mistakes.

If you feel that a career in accounting is the right fit for you, then you can pivot from your existing career or train from scratch by starting a professional finance programme or brushing up your finance skills with select courses. Let people around you know of your ambitions, and consider expanding your search beyond the immediate area or your most preferred sector if you’re running into closed doors. 

Accountants are needed by every business. It’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time with the right skills

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