From Entry-Level to Expert: The Stages of an Accounting Career

I didn’t start out in an accounting career. My interest was in small business management. Accounting was definitely an afterthought. That afterthought came as my classmates and I were graduating from college. My accounting major friends all left college with jobs lined up. As a business major, I didn’t have a specific pathway laid out for me. I knew I wanted to own a business, but I didn’t have a clear direction as to what that would be.

With my degree in hand, I cast about for a job. Finding none, I took a job for the summer working in the hospitality industry. It taught me very quickly that the hospitality industry was not for me. Within a very few years, I had settled on pursuing accounting as a career. I liked it. It made sense.

Video about how to build a successful accounting career.

Now, all these years later, I’m an accountant with over 35 years of experience in the field. I can see looking back that my career in accounting had (so far) four distinct phases that have shaped it. I believe that sharing these insights can be valuable for anyone considering a career in accounting.

The first phase of my career was focused on learning the skills. It involved mastering the basics of accounting, understanding how accounting works, and learning how to perform daily accounting tasks.

Once I had a good grasp of these skills, I moved into the second phase of my career – applying and increasing my skills. Accounting is a knowledge-based profession, so the more knowledge you have, the more valuable you become to the marketplace.

In the third phase of my career, I moved into a management role, where I began to supervise others in accounting and finance. I took on roles such as an accounting manager, a controller, and a CFO.

Now, in the fourth phase of my career, I have moved into teaching. My goal is to help teach the next generation of accountants and business professionals. I do this by teaching at the college level and by creating educational content on my website and blog.

Of course, not everyone’s fourth phase will involve teaching. It could be that you decide to work with non-profits or start your own business. The beauty of an accounting career is that there are so many pathways you can take. You can choose to go into public accounting and become a CPA, work in private accounting and become a management accountant, or become a bookkeeper. Bookkeepers are the backbone of the entire accounting profession, and I have a lot of respect and love for them.

Ultimately, regardless of the path you take, the most important thing is to keep learning and increasing your knowledge. If you have strong financial skills, there will always be opportunities available to you.

If you are considering majoring in accounting, check out this article:

Should I Major in Accounting?

If you’re curious about a career in accounting, check out these two articles:

Why accounting is a bad career.
Why accounting is a good career.

Caroline Grimm

Caroline Grimm is an accounting educator and a small business enthusiast. She holds Masters and Bachelor degrees in Business Administration. She is the author of 13 books and the creator of Accounting How To YouTube channel and blog. For more information visit:

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