Full Article

June 29, 2011

Career Opportunities Looking Up for Accountancy Students

If you are a student in the College of Business Administration School of Accountancy or you are thinking about majoring in accounting, there is good news on the horizon. U.S. News and World Report recently listed accountancy as one of the top 50 careers that should have strong growth over the next decade.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects accountant and auditor employment growth of 22 percent between 2008 and 2018. That’s an additional 279,400 more positions to the 1.29 million jobs already in existence.

Dr. Paul Shoemaker, director of the UNL School of Accountancy, sees some significant reasons behind the recent projections.

“The prospects are good and the market for accounting students looks very good as of today,” said Shoemaker. “It’s one of those areas where there is always a need for accounting in the business world. The second thing is that there is a lot of government regulation and SEC regulation. The SEC has a lot of regulation on publicly traded companies and all of their requirements, so I think there is always going to be a need for accounting for publicly traded companies regardless what is happening with the economy.”

Shoemaker stressed that students considering a career in accountancy not let stereotypical ideas about the field steer them away, particularly in the area of mathematics.

“Math is important but it’s not that you need to know a lot of high powered math like calculus and trigonometry. You need to know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide very well and know when to use it. I always tell prospective students that it’s not so much the math that’s important, as far as having a detailed knowledge of mathematics, but it’s knowing how to use the basics really well.”

On the other hand, Shoemaker does see communication skills being more important today than ever before.

 “Another myth with a lot of accounting students is that they are technically qualified, but they don’t know how to talk much or they don’t have the social skills necessary. That’s much more critical today than it used to be and that’s what the big firms are looking for, people who can meet with clients, talk to them intelligently and help bring in more clients through communication.”

On the whole the UNL School of Accountancy has seen increased enrollment during recent years to parallel the demand for accountants and auditors.

“The trajectory seems to be going up,” said Shoemaker. “International students have increased and we’re also getting more out of state students, whereas before it was primarily Nebraska citizens who came here. Over the last two years, we had over 400 undergraduates for the first time since I’ve been here 20-some years.”  

For accountancy students looking to broaden their networking and communication skills, the Beta Alpha Psi student organization at UNL is one important avenue for students looking to start shaping their accountancy careers. The group has a variety of meetings and activities throughout the year for those students who qualify for membership. For more information, students can contact Debra Cosgrove, assistant professor of practice and Beta Alpha Psi adviser.