Break into accounting, step by step

  • Staff Reporter | May 10, 2018
Step by step - how to become an accountant

The process of getting started on the path to a new career can be daunting – but it doesn’t have to be.

Take it one step at a time and you’ll be starting your first accounting role in no time.  

Step 1: Get qualified

The kind of certification you’ll need in order to work in accounting depends on what sort of career you’re aiming for.


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If you’d like to work as a professional chartered accountant, you’ll need to hold a minimum tertiary qualification of a Bachelor of Business majoring in Accounting. This career path offers a great salary, opportunities for growth, and it’s always in demand! Your average graduate accountant salary starts out at $55,000 but grows quickly from there.

You can also work in the accounting field without a degree as a bookkeeper, accounts payable, accounts receivable or payroll officer. To fast-track your career in these fields, you can complete a Certificate III in Accounting Administration or a Certificate IV in Accounting.

Accounting graduates in full time employment

Step 2: Work experience

Work experience in an accounting firm can really set you apart from other grads when it comes to finding a job after study. One smart way of achieving this is finding work as a bookkeeper, clerk or assistant at an accounting firm during your studies. A few months studying a Certificate III in Accounting Administration can help you land these roles.

There’s not a lot to this – except getting out there. Successful businesses are growing businesses and always need new people. Pick up the phone or drop in, show your initiative!

Step 3: Join a professional association

In Australia, only chartered accountants are qualified to prepare and sign off on financial documents, so being an accredited member of one of the three professional accounting bodies is almost essential for practising accountants.

The three accounting industry associations are the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA), CPA Australia (CPA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia (ICAA). They all require a Bachelor of Business majoring in Accounting in order to join. The IPA will also accept associate members with a Diploma of Accounting.

Each organisation has its own requirements, education and examinations for membership, and it’s up to you which one you join.

Of course, you can still work in accounting without being a chartered accountant, but it does mean that someone else will have to sign off on your work, which could limit your career options.

Step 4: Find a graduate job

Now you’re graduated and on your way to gaining professional membership, it’s time to find a job! Graduate roles for accountants provide fantastic entry points into the world of accounting firms. Work on your soft skills such as communication and negotiation in order to stand out from the crowd. If you followed Step 2 and got that work experience, you might even be invited to stay on as a fully-fledged accountant!

Take the first step

Check out the study options in accounting from Australia’s best Registered Training Organisations.

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