How Can I Evaluate If an Accounting Degree Is Right for Me?

Objectively, accounting is a great career choice. There are a number of reasons for this: better than average pay, a flexible skill set and plentiful job opportunities in a number of diverse industries. Whether you are a 17- or 18-year-old high school senior who is thinking about the future or an experienced professional who is eager to switch careers, if you are someone for whom the following statements are true, an accounting degree could be right for you.

Options Are Important to You

Accountants are qualified to hold a laundry list of different professional positions: auditor, consultant, tax advisor, financial advisor, analyst, managerial jobs and more. The Big 4 accounting and professional services firms—that is, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG and Deloitte—are shoo-ins for annual “Best Places to Start a Career” and “Best Places to Work” lists. If professional options are important to you, an accounting degree will provide you with more than virtually any other type of undergraduate or graduate degree.

You Want This to Be the Last Degree You Ever Have to Earn

Many accountants obtain graduate degrees. In fact, Big 4 alumni make up a large portion of M7 business schools’ (Harvard, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, MIT, Northwestern, the University of Chicago and the University of California–Berkeley) MBA classes each year. However, obtaining an accounting degree means that you will not have to go back to school unless for some reason you find it imperative to do so.

You Like Numbers

Spoiler alert: There are a lot of numbers in accounting. Shocking, right? If you have a general distaste for numbers, accounting is definitely not the profession for you. You will not be required to do complex high-level mathematical computations, though. If that is what you enjoy, the coursework required to obtain a math or physics degree would probably be more enjoyable and satisfying for you than the coursework found in an accounting program. Most of the math you do as an accountant only requires knowledge of simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Your day-to-day responsibilities will require you to read and make sense of balance sheets, income statements, tax forms, ledgers, journal entries, lengthy spreadsheets and internal memoranda with seemingly made-up names. If this does not sound appealing, accounting probably is not for you.

You Want to Work with Highly Motivated People

Most people picture accounting firms (or the in-house accounting departments of other companies) as being dingy places filled with introverted nerds who have precious little contact with the outside world and do completely thankless work. This is not Office Space, though. An accounting degree will prepare you to do high-quality, deadline-driven work in an environment with other people who are highly motivated both professionally and personally.

Conclusion

An accounting degree will provide you with a bevy of professional options. However, if you are not the type of person who enjoys working with numbers, does not enjoy repetitive tasks or prefers an extremely relaxed work environment, you may want to pursue a non-accounting course of study. Ultimately, though, the decision is yours. After all, who knows you better than you?