Accounting Careers Outlook
Overall the accounting industry is expected to grow faster than the average through 2014; however, the composition of the industry may change substantially. In 2002 the federal government indicted Arthur Andersen for obstruction of justice for its role in the bankruptcy of one of its clients, Enron Corporation. As a result, Andersen lost many major clients, fell from its Big Five position, and underwent prosecution. In response, the federal government enacted legislation that increase penalties for financial malfeasance, as well as making accounting executives personally responsible for the reporting of false financial information. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires companies to adhere to stricter accounting measures as a result of public mistrust of corporate and accounting procedures resulting from the bankruptcy of Enron and other corporations. Increased scrutiny of accounting procedures should increase opportunities for accountants, especially CPAs.
It seems reasonable to expect that technologies will continue to change the face of the industry, with the invention of complex computer systems, software, and artificial intelligence. Number crunching jobs will be eliminated, while those that require computer experience and analytical skills should become more numerous. The best positions will go to those with proficiency in accounting and auditing computer software or expertise in specialized areas such as international business, specific industries, or current legislation. In addition, employers increasingly seek applicants with strong interpersonal and communication skills.
Internal auditors and forensic accountants and auditors will increasingly be needed to discover and eliminate waste and fraud. There will be a shift away from tax preparation because of the increasing number of tax-preparation firms and software.
Firms will continue to merge in order to remain competitive, and they will specialize in an effort to find their niche in the marketplace. Accounting firms will find themselves competing against other non-CPA companies for the same business and ultimately will seek alliances to build a stronger business.
While mergers continue, staff, including partners, are cut back, smaller firms will flourish. The AICPA expects higher work standards to be established and more rigorous training and hiring of lower and mid-level workers. High-level employees will be phased out, and paraprofessional accountants will step in. According to the Chicago Tribune, more than 2,300 small accounting firms have been created in the United States since 2001.
The outlook for accounting will be strong despite a radically changed banking industry and the continuing increase in the number and complexity of financial transactions. Expect the accounting industry to grow in the following four key areas:
International trade is on the rise, and accounting firms are expanding rapidly into Eastern Europe, Russia, China, East Asia, and Latin America. Future expansion is predicted to occur in Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, Argentina, and Brazil.
This will be a large growth area given the scope of fraud committed in recent years and the likelihood of future fraud as business transactions become more intricate.
The number of Americans aged 65 or older is rising, and many members of this group will seek accounting assistance to make investment decisions and manage their finances.
This specialty is emerging as accountants consult with corporations to ensure compliance with rapidly evolving environmental policies and avoid lawsuits.
Careers with Accounting Degree:
- Accountant and Auditor Career
- Bank Examiners
- Billing Clerks
- Bookkeeping and Accounting Clerks
- Credit Analysts
- Financial Analysts
- Financial Institution Tellers, Clerks, and Related Workers
- Financial Institution Officers and Managers
- Financial Services Brokers
- Forensic Accountants and Auditors
- Tax Preparers