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Accounting can be an ideal career for someone who is good with budgets and numbers. Some numbers can be quite nice, like a median salary of just over $73,000 for the profession in 2020. And the good news for those who are so numbers-oriented is that the demand for accountants is only likely to rise soon, with the US BLS predicting a 7% increase in the need for accountants by 2030.

Choose an accounting niche

One of the first things any prospective accountant should do is take the time to talk to as many different practitioners in the industry as possible. There is a wide variety of professionals who call themselves accountants. What they do on a day-to-day basis can also diverge wildly. This can include anything from auditing and analyzing accounts to preparing tax returns. Clients can be an accountant’s own business, governments, other companies, non-profit organizations and individuals.

Not all bookkeeping jobs will be to everyone’s liking. Some can be obnoxious to others while being pleasant to most. And knowing what you like before you try it or at least learning a bit more about it can be next to impossible.

For accountants, finding your niche in the big accounting world can be of paramount importance for newcomers. Remember that even if you have a preference for where you would like to work in the industry, at first you may not have a choice. And if it’s not a necessary accreditation for your work, it doesn’t matter if that first job is not as a CPA.

Get the right tools

There are several software programs that any accountant worth their salt should spend their time familiarizing themselves with. And while Excel can be a good place to start, that’s about it unless you’re just working on simple projects. (Not likely.)

Other accounting software that may be useful to know about include:

  • FreshBooks
  • Oracle Net Suite
  • untouched sage
  • Cloud ERP
  • QuickBooks
  • Xero
  • SAP Competition

It may even pay to familiarize yourself with accounting firm management software as well. Some of the best offerings, such as those from Financial Cents, will be very versatile software that many accountants find invaluable. These products are team management software designed specifically for accountants and accounting firms. This means that good accounting practice management software will enable features such as team progress tracking, remote collaboration, central data storage, and best of all, automatic collection of client data. All of this comes with the data you need to know, all readily available for use by customers and businesses.

Practice your craft

Clients want to see a real experience, but nothing says you have to have real clients to practice your accounting skills. This practice can mean either doing the books as you would imagine them for a favorite Fortune 500 company, or taking on a friend or family member as a client, free of charge. While neither is experience you should put on your resume, both can be invaluable when practicing your craft.

Start networking early

It’s never too early to start building professional relationships. We never know. The people you meet today could become your first clients, colleagues, bosses or employees!

And don’t worry if you’re young and just breaking into the industry and feel you have nothing to offer a more experienced colleague. You’d be surprised what you might have to offer, even if just from a different point of view. If you really don’t know where to start, the AICPA has a good Networking Guide for Young Accounting Professionals which are filled with helpful tips to make the process less painful, even for the most anti-social among us.

Get Accredited

Accreditation is one of the first steps accountants will need to take to be considered professionals. Although certification is not a requirement to be an accountant, having strong credentials can be very helpful, especially for those new to accounting.

Some of the most popular certifications for accountants include:

  • Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
  • Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
  • Enrolled Agent (EA)
  • And, of course, Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Additionally, some find it helpful to get their Financial Services Audit Certificate (FSAC)which equips accountants with specialized skills for internal audits and investigations, such as how to review financial statements to uncover and help prevent fraud.

Stay motivated!

Finally, there’s that last step, staying motivated. Honestly, this can often be easier said than done. Accounting is rarely the most exciting field, and staying motivated to complete tasks on time can sometimes be difficult. Motivation issues are why having big goals can be so crucial. These can be external to your job, like saving for a new car or house, or more closely related to what you do day-to-day, like getting a new title or a pay raise. Having goals to achieve will not only make the whole job more interesting, but setting goals can actually help. improve your mental outlook in your wider life.