A lot of people are under the assumption that accountants make a lot of money. This might be true for accountants that are well established and have been working for years, or for people operating their own firms successfully, but for new accountants, the picture is entirely different. The average level-entry position in accounting pays around $26. While this is nothing to scoff at, it’s not like entry-level accountants are living in the lap of luxury. Not to mention that many of them have debts to deal with. Not all established accountants are rolling in money either.
If you’re finding yourself struggling right now, you should know that your skill as an accountant makes you very valuable and that you can parlay this skill into a secondary or main source of income. There are also things that you can do to make yourself more valuable and versatile as an accountant. Let’s take a look at a few ways accountants can get more money.
Go for Continual Education
The more you know as an accountant and the more certifications you have, the more money you’ll be able to make in this business. The first logical step would be to become a CPA if you aren’t one as it will allow you to instantly be eligible for higher paying positions, work with more lucrative clients, and handle more responsibilities.
From then on, you could start looking at a variety of specialized courses. You can also find CPE online classes that will allow you to get your credentials while you keep your current position.
Services like COPAS, for instance, offer CPE online classes for accountants in the oil and gas industry. If you didn’t know already, this industry is in great need of accountants and is fueling the demand for new talent. If you have your certification, you can expect the doors of the industry to be wide open for you, and jobs in the industry offer great job security and great pay, so look into this in detail if you haven’t already.
You can also continue your edition in a field that is closely related to accounting, such as finance, strategic management, or get your MBA. Accountants have many of the skills needed to be good entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs who have an accounting background have a definite advantage over those who don’t.
Not only are they better at managing their businesses’ finances, but they are better at forecasting and expanding, and better at getting financing too. This is because financiers and venture capitalists will usually be much more comfortable working with an accountant.
Another field that is in great need of people with knowledge of accounting is the healthcare industry. There are plenty of programs that will allow you to bridge a career in healthcare administration, and healthcare administrators are some of the highest people in the country. So, this is definitely something you should consider if this is a field you could see yourself working in.
Open an Accounting Firm
You also have the option of opening your own accounting firm. Note that you don’t necessarily have to be a CPA to open one, but licensing will affect what kind of services you can offer and eventually how much money you can make. You can start an accounting firm straight out of school, but it’s usually recommended that you start by working an entry-level job. You also have to see if you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
There is a big difference between working for a firm and operating one. As an employee, your days are planned and all you have to worry about is the tasks you have to do. As an owner, you have to worry about bringing in new clients, managing your overheads, hiring and firing employees, legal obligations, etc. So, unless you have a lot of stress tolerance and are ready to deal with the uncertainty that comes with operating your own business, you may have to look at other options.
You should also know that you don’t have to start your business from scratch or practice full-time. A lot of people start taking on a few clients on the side which allows them to build their expertise and still benefit from the security of a 9 to 5. If you want to go all in, then you can get a partner so you can divide the workload or expand your scope of service or buy an existing firm.
Buying an existing firm will allow you to hit the floor running and take some of the stress out of getting clients, but there are some things you have to know before you go that route. First of all, you don’t know how the employees of that firm will react once they learn that you’re the new owner. Some may leave, and this can be a major issue for you. You also don’t know how many clients will decide to stay. However, clauses can be worked into your purchase agreement to cover you.
Sell Yourself Better
The money you make in accounting will largely depend on who you know and accountants that are good at networking will never have to worry about running out of clients. And, if you’re good at it, you could start getting a steady stream of clients after a while without putting any extra effort into meeting new people. This is why we suggest that you become a member of as many organizations as you can and attend as many industry events as you can as well. It would also help to increase your online presence and build rapport with people in the community online.
A lot of the job openings in accounting are never publicized and many companies will prefer to pick up someone on referrals. The bigger your network is, the greater the chance that you’ll get referred or get a tip about openings you may not be aware of.
Find a Mentor
Another thing we suggest you do is find yourself a good mentor. This is especially important if you’re a new accountant and don’t have your CPA license yet. A mentor will be able to help you if you’re struggling and give you an idea of the different career paths you could take. They could also open doors for you if they feel like you could be a good fit for a certain position.
Another thing a mentor does is keep you accountable and motivate you if you’re feeling discouraged in your current position. Just a few words of encouragement and some direction could be all that you need for you to get up and find a better position. So, don’t underestimate the power of the mentor and start looking for one starting today.
Start a Side Hustle
A lot of accountants have good business sense whether they know it or not. Your skill set could be very valuable if you decide to move to a field like eCommerce, for instance, or if you want to open some sort of agency. You could also offer your services to businesses in those fields. A lot of eCommerce professionals are struggling to keep up with their finances, and you could offer your services to them specifically.
Alternatively, you could work as a tutor. Lots of people and businesses are trying to build up their accounting skills and financial literacy, and accountants are some of the most financially literate people around. You have all the skills needed to teach basic and advanced financial principles to people from all walks of life and offer courses either online or in person.
You should also know that your qualifications give you a certain level of prestige and this could open many doors for you. You could go into the public sector and become a customer advocate. You could build seminars or special events. Or you could become a writer or an author. There are tons of financial publications both on and offline that are looking for people in the field to write for them.
You could also write independently and release your own book or blog. They don’t have to be about accounting either. You could write a blog aimed at young families trying to save money, for instance, or a simple personal finance blog. Your expertise will give you a definite advantage here as search engines will privilege people who have actual qualifications when ranking these sorts of blogs and people will take the word of an accountant much more seriously than that of a random blogger.
There are so many other business ideas you could try, so have an open mind and look at where you could use your skill to build a nice side hustle or full-time business for yourself.
As you can see, there are tons of things that you can do as an accountant if you want to increase your revenue. Look at all of your options, don’t be afraid to seek help, and do everything in your power to make yourself indispensable as a candidate.