Why choose the accounting profession?

We often ask young children what they would like to be when they grow up with often humorous results. Once young children get past wanting to be ballerinas and super heroes, they move on to the pursuit of more logical professions. But what will that profession be? There are many to choose from, and the pressure to make a choice is, at times, intense. 

Not everyone is in touch with their strengths, desires, and intellectual interests. Many people have not spent much time understanding what type of work environment would suit them best. Are they the type that prefers detail-oriented work at a desk without much human interaction? Or would an environment that requires a collaborative people-driven environment suit them better?  

This lack of introspection may continue into the college years. Many students hit the front steps of their university without any forethought into what their desired profession will be. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), about 80 percent of students end up changing their major at least once. On average, college students change their major at least three times over the course of their college career.  Over 80 percent of new students entering college who have declared a major are still uncertain about their decision (NCES).  All of this indecision leads to additional time spent in the classroom delaying graduation and additional tuition spent on credits necessary to complete a degree in the newly desired field. 

I was fortunate enough to have settled on the accounting profession in high school and have never wavered. My reasons for choosing the profession were the same as many others who have made the same choice. I was interested in the type of work that accounting required, I knew that the degree was marketable and that I would be employable after graduation, and I knew the accounting profession could offer a comfortable living. 

At the time I entered the profession, it was very male dominated. I remember sitting for the CPA exam and it seemed the ratio was one female for every 10 males. This was a time when the exam was taken at a testing center and could only be taken two times a year, the first week in May and the first week in November. The exam lasted two and a half days; it began on Wednesday morning and ended Friday afternoon. The exam was administered by proctors and the exams were delivered in sealed boxes. At the stroke of 9 a.m., each box was ceremoniously opened by the proctors and delivered to the exam takers. We could bring a clear bag into the exam and it could only contain pencils, erasers, and a calculator. We were also allowed to bring stamps to apply to the back of our exam books and the exams would be returned to us in the mail so we could review the questions that were posed to us.

When I began practicing, I was a school district and municipal auditor. Computers were not used in business yet. Everything was prepared by paper and pencil. The value of the mechanical pencil that all the smart kids in high school used became very recognizable. My aptitude on the ten-key was long established through many years of being a bank teller in high school and college. One of my colleagues was in charge of packing the paper bag. The paper bag was a huge, soft-sided leather satchel that was about 1-foot wide and 2-feet tall. It was all beat up from the many engagements that it had been on and was a formidable object. The paper bag was packed with all kinds of green bar paper – two-column, four-column, unlined, and lined. Depending on the work paper you were creating, the type of paper you used was vital. Everything was created on paper, including trial balances and depreciation schedules. This was a very labor-intensive situation, and we became great friends with our click erasers.

I remember very clearly the day my firm created the first computer-generated tax return. A partner had prepared the return on paper and then translated the numbers to an input sheet that I keyed into the computer that was now located in the “computer room.”  When I pushed print, the tax return that came out of the printer matched the tax return that was prepared on paper. The entire firm celebrated. To think about that now, it strikes me as ridiculously humorous. We have come so far in the profession thanks to QuickBooks, Excel, and tax preparation software.

If you happen to have found yourself, by purpose or by accident, in the accounting program at Walsh College, you are on the road to success. Walsh College has an unprecedented reputation for preparing their graduates for the challenges of the profession. We not only teach you the difficult technical skills of being a great accountant, we also teach you how to be a well-rounded business professional.  Employers want not only employees who can produce accounting results but also those who can communicate with the client and build relationships with them. 

So why choose accounting? The accounting profession affords you the opportunity to work in any industry because a business of any nature needs an accountant. The profession is recession-proof and highly respected. You will discover that your skills are in demand and that there is opportunity for upward mobility. You will always be challenged because you will have a front seat to many areas of the operations of a multitude of different types of business. Perhaps most importantly, many of your clients will become your valued friends. 

Learn more about Maria Gistinger


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