Most Wanted: Accounting Careers

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Graduates still keen on traditional careers in Accounting despite wider variety of career options.

Accounting is one of the most popular career pursuits for graduates, according to data released this week by The sector was chosen by 16% of users registering on the job site in the past five years. Accounting has always represented a traditional option for university leavers and shows no sign of declining interest despite the wide range of careers now available to graduates.

David Wilkinson studied Politics and Economics at Goldsmiths, University of London, and joined accounting firm PwC in 2012. He says graduates no longer see traditional careers in Accounting as boring.

"There are of course elements that are dull but this is true of any job," David says. "The profession has changed hugely from when this reputation was earned."

"The part I really enjoy about my job is understanding how some of the largest companies in the world operate."

David believes Accounting remains a popular option amongst university leavers in part because many of the opportunities offered are open to graduates from a range of backgrounds.

"The training gives you a fantastic introduction of the financial sector and you get to understand how large companies operate," he says. "In terms of degree backgrounds there is a huge range. A lot of people studied economics, but equally lots studied geography, history and many others [subject]."

Liam Grainger, another Audit Graduate at PwC, joined the international professional services firm in 2011. He says the sector is often popular amongst career-focused graduates.

"Accountancy is often seen as a traditional option after university. In some ways it makes it easier to justify the cost and expense of higher education. I completed a degree in Financial Accounting so I knew what I was letting myself in for."

Accounting careers often provide graduates with a range of training and development opportunities, including qualifications from the ACA, ACCA or CIMA institutions. Studying while working is a big challenge for many graduates entering the field.

"I studied the ACA and my firm gave me time off to study and attend college," David says. "It is very hard work and graduates need to be aware of that. The consensus is that you will have to work harder than at university or for A Levels."

"You have to accept that at times you will have to put your work in advance of your social life."

David says the intensity of the training gives graduates a solid background which opens up opportunities to pursue various careers.

"At the end of the three year training period the vast majority of people move into various areas of finance. This demonstrates the quality of the training that you receive and how employable it makes you."

David warns that graduates preparing for a career in Accountancy may need more than just a good grade to impress some firms.

"Graduates should do things to differentiate themselves, extracurricular worked for me but it could be anything. Try to avoid leaving university just having a degree and nothing more to show on your CV."

Liam's advice to graduates is not to wait for applications to open before reaching out to companies.

"Go speak to as many companies as you can that arrive on campus and prepare well for any interviews," he says.

"Also lots of professional services firms offer introductory days where there is a big opportunity to speak to current employees."

Accounting offers graduates the prospect of a long and fulfilling career, and David says though the beginning is hectic graduates should enjoy it.

"Being a new starter is a complete whirlwind, you will literally meet hundreds of people in your first few weeks."

"There is so much to learn when you begin your training but you will get there. It is great fun so take time to enjoy the first few weeks!"