Career Path Options for Staff Accountants

Accounting is a field that offers clear room for growth over time. The structure is designed to reward accountants with advancement opportunities as they gain experience and knowledge over time. While just about every recent graduate who enters the field will start as a staff accountant, there are several paths to choose from based on your personal preferences, goals and talents.

“A staff accountant may start off as junior; moving ultimately to senior and having this happen over the course of five plus years.  We recommend that you have advanced technology skills, especially with Excel and a broad range of awareness surrounding enterprise systems.  Some of the many accounting technologies popular in the market place include QuickBooks, GP Dynamics, Oracle, JD Edwards, SAP and Peoplesoft.  Educate yourself and gain your experience that drives your career path!” says Suzanne Gahm, Accounting Manager, Contemporary Staffing Solutions.

Public Accounting Career Path

Staff accountant positions are the entry level for public accounting, regardless of the size of the firm. During this time, you will work to assist senior members of the team while you prepare to sit for the CPA exam.  A typical career path would be to pass the CPA, move into a senior auditing or accounting position, then management, then senior management and finally, partner in the firm.

A CPA’s world is fast-paced, competitive and is all about billable hours. To succeed in public accounting you must be driven, you must show leadership ability, have extremely strong accounting skills and you must be able to work with a variety of people.

Private Accounting Career Path

In private accounting, you work in a company’s internal accounting department or the controller’s department. As a staff accountant, you will likely prepare reports and assist on internal audits of the organization. In large companies that have many different offices and divisions across the country, travel is a common aspect of the job. Staff accountants may also work on budget forecasting or they may assist in mergers and acquisitions, as well.

The career path in private accounting is usually staff accountant, assistant controller, controller and eventually, senior leadership. Private accountants often hold a CPA and many pursue MBAs.

Public Service And Nonprofit Career Paths

Some accountants choose neither public nor private accounting and opt instead for government or nonprofit work. Accountants have a wide variety of paths to choose from in these fields. Government accountants keep the books for a local, state or federal institution or they work for regulatory bodies that audit the government or private business or public tax collections.

Public and private accounting is much more lucrative than government work, though the hours are probably better in public service. Where you will earn the least, but will have the most opportunity to make a difference with your skills is in the nonprofit sector.

If you are a staff accountant seeking new opportunities in public, private, government or nonprofit accounting, contact the expert recruiters at Contemporary Staffing Solutions today. We can help you find your ideal position and help you start your journey toward success.

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