What Non-Accounting Backgrounds Can Prepare You for a Job at an Accounting Firm?

Non-accounting backgrounds

Some candidates for accounting firm jobs go on to earn degrees and work experience in radically different fields before realizing that accounting could be their calling. Fortunately, it’s not too late to make a career change. Even a background in a field far removed from accounting could provide you with a skillset an accounting firm would find valuable.

Why Would an Accounting Firm Look for Non-Accounting Job Candidates?

Some accounting firms are having a difficult time recruiting qualified talent. One solution these firms are considering is employing candidates with non-accounting educational backgrounds, work experiences and credentials, Accounting Today reported. This hiring strategy not only resolves the problem of not having enough potential employees to hire, but also can bring new kinds of expertise to an established accounting firm.

Entry-Level Roles

How much accounting experience does an entry-level employee really need? In firms that intend to invest a good deal of time, effort and money in extensive on-the-job training no matter who they hire, expanding the pool of possible employees can be a good alternative to competing against other firms for graduates from sought-after accounting degree programs, Accounting Today reported. Plus, a different background and skillset means that your new employees could bring new perspectives and ideas that can improve an accounting firm in unexpected ways, from enhancing customer service to improving employee development programs.

Advanced and Niche Roles

It’s not only entry-level jobs that accounting firms are looking in unexpected places to fill. As many firms are expanding their services beyond accounting and tax preparation to increase revenue, they need professionals with experience in these new services. Firms that are breaking into the financial planning service market can use the skills of experienced tax lawyers and financial planners, Accounting Today reported. A former law enforcement officer’s investigative skills can be a valuable asset to accounting firms that specialize in forensic accounting. Even an engineer can find a role in accounting firms that offer cost segregation, or services intended to help property owners minimize the tax burden related to their real estate purchases and projects.

Preparing for and Transitioning into Accounting Firm Jobs

Of course, non-accountants can’t fulfill every role in an accounting firm. There are some positions where extensive accounting knowledge really is necessary, just as there are some responsibilities that only licensed CPAs are legally permitted to handle. Accounting firms may also have policies in place that can affect hiring decisions, particularly when hiring non-accountants. If you know from the start that you want to be an accountant, then studying accounting in college is still the most straightforward and effective way to enter the career.

However, if you only decide to seek a job with an accounting firm as a second career, you may want to pursue a master’s degree in accounting to enhance your résumé and your appeal to potential employers. You can do this even without an undergraduate degree or work experience in accounting.