Get certified. Apply early and often. Join the survey; get the results. By Rick Telberg I’m looking over the early responses to our new CPA Careers survey and one stands out for its practicality and wisdom. This from a veteran senior finance manager at a Fortune 1000 company is, I think, 18 pieces of the best advice I’ve ever heard. 1. For the accountant who is not a CPA yet: If you’re not a CPA already, make it a goal. 2. If you need hours, apply to every accounting firm that you could drive to or are willing to move close to. 3. Apply beginning in mid-April, after busy season, when accounting firms clean house.
Tax, accounting and bookkeeping services on a year-long hiring spree…
Index hits recessionary levels. A leading gauge of confidence among finance and accounting professionals has hit its lowest level since early 2009. But 61 percent are confident in the future of their current employer, up from 56 percent in the previous quarter.
Accounting and bookkeeping sector adds 17,800 jobs in May. In the biggest single-month gain since the recession, the accounting industry added almost 18,000 new jobs in May, bringing the total headcount to 926,300, a 29-month high. In fact, accounting was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise disappointing jobs report.
But corporate employers raise starting pay. While most new college graduates are just happy to get a job this Spring, they’re probably happier going to work in business and industry because that’s where the money is. Starting salaries in public accounting are sinking 6.4% from last year to an average $46,323 this year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. But starting salaries in corporate accounting are surging 5.2%, to $49,732. In auditing, CPA firms are paying $47,889, down 5.1%. And business and industry is paying $48,721, up 3.2%.
No economic slowdown has been as bad for jobs as this one. The big red line is the current employment recession. Nothing in the last 63 years has been as painful or as prolonged for American workers. The good news? the red line seems to be trending upward lately. Says economics analyst Bill McBride at Calculated Risk: There are 6.955 million fewer payroll jobs now than before the recession started in 2007 with 13.75 million Americans currently unemployed. Another 8.6 million are working part time for economic reasons, and about 4 million more workers have left the labor force. Of those unemployed, 5.8 million have been unemployed for six months or more. Clearly the overall employment situation remains grim.
But they bill for it too. The best firms, according to INSIDE Public Accounting, start paying more from the first day and from the bottom up. For instance, IPA’s Best of the Best pay new graduates about $55,000, compared to $50,000 at their competitors — a 10% advantage that generally carries through every job level.
Small business optimism slumps in March, according to SurePayroll. The index fell two percentage points from February to 69 percent in March, with hiring is down 2.2% year-to-date. “While large businesses, medium-sized businesses and even larger small businesses may be seeing improvements in hiring, the smallest of businesses aren’t,” the company said.
Seasonally-adjusted employment sinks to 874,100. That’s down from 876,400 in January, according to new government data, and part of a consistent decline since January 2008. Meanwhile, the nation and economy overall added 192,000 jobs to non-farm payrolls in February, the fastest pace in nine months. The unemployment rate declined to 8.9 percent, almost a two-year low. Economists suggest the economy may be shifting into higher gear. But you wouldn’t know it from the employment trends in the almost million-person accounting and bookkeeping sector.
Accounting and bookkeeping sector hits new low. Accounting and Bookkeeping, All Employees, in Thousands As the nation’s overall unemployment rate ticked upward to 9.8% in November from 9.6%, the number of jobs in the accounting and bookkeeping sector declined by another 1,600 to a preliminary seasonally-adjusted 876,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s a new post-crash low.
QuickBooks, Oracle and SAP dominate the want ads. After tabulating about 500 job listings for accountants, new research shows that QuickBooks skills are most in demand today, followed by Oracle and SAP. Not listed here, of course, is Excel, which is a prerequisite for nearly all open accounting jobs today, according to SoftwareAdvice.com/accounting. In the charts below, the big pie chart in the middle ranks the overall most-popular software packages: Intuit: 27% Oracle: 19% SAP: 13% Microsoft: 8% Sage: 8% ADP: 3% Lawson: 2%