How Can Candidates With Non-Accounting Backgrounds Make a Career Change Into the Field of Accounting?

What if you want to make a career move into an accounting firm, but you went to school for a different occupation? Having an accounting education from the start may be the most linear path into the field, but it’s not the only opportunity there is to find employment with an accounting agency. By studying accounting at the graduate level or transitioning non-accounting skills into niche services where they hold value, candidates who don’t have an undergraduate accounting degree can open up their career options.

Earning a Master’s Degree in Accounting

Of course, one way to become qualified for an accounting career is to study accounting. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you don’t have to start from scratch. Enough workers pursue accounting as their second careers that many schools now offer master’s degree programs in accounting that are tailored specifically to students without an accounting background.

As a student from a non-accounting background, you have options. You might find suitable programs for your situation in the form of a Master of Science in Accounting (MSA), a Master of Accounting (MAcc) or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a concentration in accounting. These programs include introductory classes taught in intensive course formats to help students develop the fundamental accounting skills and knowledge they need to delve into graduate-level studies.

Using Your Non-Accounting Strengths

You might be surprised to find that even a non-accounting background can prepare you for a career with an accounting firm. In fact, with a shortage of qualified accounting candidates putting the squeeze on many accounting firms, these employers may actually be looking for you, Accounting Today reported.

To provide more value to their clients – and increase the firm’s revenue – many accounting firms are breaking into financial services and other markets. This means they don’t just need greater numbers of staff – they also need personnel with skills in the markets they are infiltrating.

To make the most of your non-accounting background, seek out a firm that offers services where you could put the strengths you have already developed to good use. If you have experience as a tax lawyer or credentials as a financial planner, for example, you could look for an accounting firm that’s branching out into financial planning services, according to Accounting Today. Even experience in fields outside the business world can prove surprisingly valuable to the right employer. Firms that handle fraud and forensic accounting have been known to hire former law enforcement personnel, while those that handle real estate-related matters like cost segregation may have a spot on their teams for experienced engineers.

It might not be the most direct path, but there’s no question that candidates from a non-accounting background can forge their own path into the field. To land a role with an accounting firm, candidates can either expanding their education or find a service that prizes the non-accounting skills they already have.