So, you've got a bachelor's degree in accounting and are looking for accounting jobs. Or maybe you already have one and want to move your accounting career beyond processing invoices. It’s a good time to be working in this field, as there are plenty of opportunities out there.
The demand for workers with accountancy and financial skills is expanding. Figures suggest the accounting and auditing employment rate will grow by 7% from 2020 to 2030 in the United States, with around 135,000 job openings expected each year. If you’re skilled in preparing financial reports and reviewing accounting records, you may have a bright future ahead.
The competition is always tough and competitive, despite the high demand. But the good news is you don’t need to fear technology. It’s believed developing technology will create more jobs than it destroys, helping to make sure accounting jobs stay secure.
We’re going to show you where you can find accounting jobs, how to apply for them, how to handle job interviews, and the best way to negotiate your salary or rate.
- Where You Can Find Accounting Jobs in the U.S.
- Job Boards
- Social Media
- Big Accounting Firms
- Small Accounting Firms
- What You Should Consider When Looking for a Job
- Focus On What You Want
- Keep Networking
- Plan Your Job Search
- Becoming a Freelance Accountant
- Tell the IRS You’re Self-Employed
- Take Out Professional Liability Insurance
- Other Things
- How to Prepare Your Resume
- Applying for Accounting Jobs
- Getting the Right Salary
Where You Can Find Accounting Jobs in the U.S.
Thinking about a new job? You’ll be glad to hear it’s easy to find finance and accountant roles—like an entry-level junior accountant and financial controller—in several places online:
- Job boards
- Social media
- Big accounting firms
- Small accounting firms
There are perks and drawbacks to each of these.
Post your resume to a job board like Indeed or ZipRecruiter and recruiters can contact you directly. If your current job keeps you busy, this may be a good option for you so you can focus on work and let the offers come your way. If you find yourself with some time to search for roles, you can select criteria like financial accountant salaries, start dates, and other information.
You can also set job alerts with specific criteria to filter through the jobs you want and skip the ones you don’t. Criteria include things like job title, company, salary, primary location, etc. When you register for job alerts, you’ll receive notifications telling you when a new role has been added.
Once your information’s online, anyone can see it. This may lead to emails and phone calls from recruiters that sound promising at first, but you may find they never contact you again after that initial communication.
General Job Boards
Accounting and Finance Job Boards
- Accounting Crossing
- Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA)
- American Accounting Association (AAA)
Social media platforms like LinkedIn can help you find accounting jobs. This has a job board like the sites listed above, and finance professionals can post about the roles they’re looking to fill. You can approach them directly about these positions, and sign up for personalized recommendations for accounting jobs.
Not every job ad is up to date. You may see several positions that have been advertised for months. And sometimes, positions can vanish fast because so many people are applying for them. If you see a role you like on LinkedIn, send in your application as soon as you can, and even try to follow up with a recruiter or manager at that company to show your interest.
Big Accounting Firms
Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PwC are the “big 4” accounting companies. Thousands of people work for them in the U.S. and around the world. Nobody will question your accounting expertise if they see you’re working for a big firm. But be prepared to put a lot of time and energy into the work. Get your cover letter ready and prepare yourself for a more corporate environment.
The bigger the firm, the more people you’re likely to meet. You’ll have plenty of responsibilities in common—such as financial reporting—giving you lots to bond over when times are busy (or stressful).
Large accounting firms can offer comprehensive employee benefit programs, such as private healthcare or leisure discounts. Think about how important benefits are to you, and what kinds you want, before you apply for roles.
You may also find there’s good training available. This is something accounting professionals at big companies really love.
Weekend work and long hours are common, especially in tax season and during other filing deadlines. Accountants often say this is their least favorite part of handling a company’s finances in a big multinational corporation.
Others say promotion routes aren’t always clear, but this varies between firms. Like anyone, accountants want to progress and be promoted for the great work they do in a timely manner, and not wait for a long time before getting a promotion or an opportunity to grow within the company.
Some big firms have said they’re understaffed, which makes busy periods busier. While this helps ensure job security, it can damage employee morale and cause burnout.
Examples of Big Accounting Firms
Small Accounting Firms
Join a small accounting firm and you’ll be part of a close-knit accounting team. You’ll speak to the same people regularly and have the opportunity to develop closer relationships with your clients, boss, and likely the partners. Your job satisfaction is generally determined by these relationships.
In a small firm, you may feel “closer to the action.” You’ll work more closely with clients and see the impact your work is having on their lives and their businesses.
It can be easier to strike a work-life balance, too. Depending on the firm, working hours can be more flexible in smaller accounting firms, which means more time to have a life outside of work as well.
There’s also a good chance your boss is one of the partners or founders of the firm, meaning all employees (including you) get more face time with them and have the opportunity to learn from their experience. Big accounting companies often have several shareholders with lots of management levels. It can feel like no one knows who you are and even notices the great work you do.
Your job title and responsibilities may be less defined in a small team. You may find yourself taking on duties you wouldn’t associate with your role, which makes the path to promotion less clear. But this presents an opportunity to learn new skills and become the “go-to” person for these tasks.
Since you’ll be speaking to the same few colleagues and clients most days, your job satisfaction and motivation will suffer if you find these relationships challenging.
Smaller accounting businesses may not have the same resources and systems as bigger financial firms. There could be less software and processes in place for things like project tracking and sharing files. The work may be simpler and involve tasks like reviewing financial transactions and financial data for smaller companies and individuals. So, you need to consider if this kind of work will keep you happy.
Examples of Small Accounting Firms
- Accounting to Scale
- Accounting Heritage Group
- Accounting Group of Western New York
- The Accounting Works
- The Accounting Office
What You Should Consider When Looking for a Job
Focus On What You Want
Try answering some questions before applying for new accounting jobs. Think about:
- Where you want to be in 5 to 10 years
- The parts of accounting you like the most
- Work-life balance and how much this matters
- If the salary on offer matches your worth
This will help you find the best roles for your needs. You’ll avoid wasting time by skipping jobs that don’t match what you want.
Networking, online or in person, can help you meet people with knowledge of accounting jobs and opportunities that can help you find your next role. You might not find a job immediately, but let people know what you want and they may get in touch if they hear about an opening or opportunity.
Return the favor by asking them the same question, and offering to keep your eyes peeled for opportunities. Add any relevant networking events you hear about to your calendar and be sure to attend.
Make sure you review your social media profiles regularly, checking that your information and relevant achievements are up to date.
Join a certified public accountant group online and post about what you’ve learned from your experiences, too. You never know who’s watching in a place like LinkedIn—other accountants, financial managers, or recruiters might see your post at the right time and have career options to share with you.
Plan Your Job Search
Already working full-time? Try scheduling an hour or two in the evenings and on weekends to look for accounting and finance roles.
Make any necessary changes to your resume, so this shows off your newest qualifications and achievements. This might include learning to use accounting software such as FreshBooks.
Becoming a Freelance Accountant
There’s no shortage of freelance accountants out there who’ve gone this way for all sorts of reasons. There are benefits to being freelance, like choosing hours that match your work-life balance goals and being more selective with projects. But there are a few things you need to do.
Tell the IRS You’re Self-Employed
You need to tell the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that you’re working for yourself, file an annual return, and pay estimated tax quarterly. You’ll also need to choose a business structure:
Each structure has its own pros and cons. You may find one structure to be better than the rest, depending on your situation.
Take Out Professional Liability Insurance
We all make mistakes. Professional liability insurance can help you protect yourself against claims of negligence. There are other insurance policies you may want to think about.
To show you can practice as an accountant, you’ll need to pass the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam.
Consider setting up a website to market your freelance business, and review this regularly. Who you are and what you do may change over time. Ask clients for testimonials and case studies to include here.
Connect with the people you want to work with on social media, as well as other accounting professionals. Freelancers often share projects with one another if they’re too busy to take these on, or if they’re not the right fit.
Explore new qualifications you can achieve and services you can offer to boost your income and help clients. The FreshBooks Accounting Partner Program lets you connect with small business owners, and includes opportunities to learn and grow.
How to Prepare Your Resume
There’s a useful resume guide on Accounting.com. Here’s a quick rundown of the sections you’ll want to focus on.
Education and training: Show your qualifications early in your resume. Some recruiters won’t want to crawl through pages to find evidence of these. Be clear on the grades you’ve achieved, and highlight the relevant topics you’ve studied.
Certifications and licenses: If these have acronyms, spell them out in full when using them for the first time. Not every hiring manager will necessarily know what these mean. Make the awarding and expiration dates clear, so the recruiter knows these are current.
Experience: List your current job and past roles. Explain what your responsibilities, skills, and strengths were. Customize these for each employer, so your resume appears unique to each accounting position you’re applying for.
Skills: Frame these in accounting and finance contexts, and tailor them to each job you’re applying for. Your prospective employer should see how your skills can help their business.
Hobbies: It’s not essential to list your hobbies. As these can be subjective, it’s best to leave out this section if you have none relevant to the job. But they can help show off what kind of personality you have.
Applying for Accounting Jobs
First off, have all your documents in order and up-to-date. You’ll likely be asked about your strengths during your job interview, so having everything ready and knowing yourself well will make you look professional and organized. Be prepared to talk about your best qualities, and back them with examples of times you’ve used them.
If you have an accounting specialty, focus on this in your interview. Speak to accountants who’re also in your niche. They can offer some insight into why you might enjoy working in this specific area.
You need to appear respectable and confident, even over video. So be well-rested and well-dressed, and show up for your interview on time.
Research the company and come up with questions for them ahead of your interview. This is a two-way street. You need to know if working with them is going to help you with your personal, professional, and financial goals. If they can’t, you might want to keep your options open.
Getting the Right Salary
Congratulations, you’ve been offered an accounting job! Before you say “yes,” research the typical salaries for your industry and find out if the company is going to pay you what you’re worth.
Indeed says the average salary for an accountant with 1–2 years experience is $54,304, and $67,431 for those with 10+ years experience.
If you’re offered a lower accounting salary than what was advertised in the job description, ask the recruiter why this is. Try negotiating for a compromise if their answer doesn’t satisfy you (negotiating your salary is best done after the first few rounds of the interview process when you’re actually getting an offer). This might include working fewer hours. But prioritize working towards a competitive salary.
Think about raises. What do you need to do to secure one at your new accounting firm? Find out the typical requirements and how often rates get reviewed. It’s always good to know you can progress within your new company.
Data suggests accounting jobs are needed now and will be increasingly popular in the future. Whether you pursue full-time, part-time, or freelance finance work, this industry has a bright future in the U.S. So, get online and get active! Set up job alerts, spruce up your resume, and get ready for a new career mastering financial statements and financial documents.
about the author
persuasive and engaging copy from Cardiff, United Kingdom. When he's not writing, you'll find him reading, running, and attending rock shows.Greg writes