Singapore attracts lots of business thanks to its tech capabilities, infrastructure, and ease of doing business. With so many companies, Singapore also needs plenty of accountants and other support service providers. If you’re considering climbing the accounting ranks, start with a solid foundation of accounting education, qualifications and experience. With a mix of education and experience climbing the ladder as an accountant is simple.
Your climb up the accounting ladder starts with education and qualifications. Many accountants start by earning a bachelor’s degree that includes plenty of accounting coursework. A shorter accounting program may also be sufficient, depending on your goals and experience. For example, if you need to earn a living while attending college, consider starting with a shorter accounting program. Once you finish the program, get a job in the accounting field and start working on your Bachelor’s degree. Regardless, your education should prepare you for the field and prep you to pass one of the accounting qualification exams.
You have several options when it comes to qualifications. Earning a highly recognized accounting qualification helps you land your first job. A current qualification or accreditation makes you stand out in an often-competitive job market. General accounting qualifications options include:
- Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
- Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants, also known as CA Singapore
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
- Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
You can also earn other specialized qualifications, such as the Chartered Internal Auditor qualification or the Certified Fraud Examiner. You may start with a general accounting qualification initially. After working in the field and deciding on a specialty area, you can go back for more schooling and additional qualifications. This option helps you advance and meet the requirements for different positions.
Be prepared to continue taking coursework to renew your qualifications. These continuing education opportunities give you a chance to stay current in the field, which gives you a competitive edge.
Accounting firms often look for real-world experience in the accounting field when hiring. Having experience at a Big 4 firm is especially attractive. One way to get the experience before getting your first job is through internships. Spending time in actual accounting firms during your schooling gives you an advantage. You can include the experience on your application, and you learn things you can apply when you land your first job. Look for diverse internships to show that you have a broad and varied base in the field. Also, pay close attention to the connections you make during your internship, mingling with already-established accountants could help go directly from intern to accountant when you earn your degree.
Landing a Job
People often talk of the Big 4 accounting firms when searching for jobs. Those Big 4 firms are Deloitte & Touche LLP, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). These internationally known firms offer a wide range of services within the finance and accounting field. Working for a Big 4 firm gives you a prestigious addition to your CV, but they’re not the only place to start. Smaller firms may be a better match for your experience and preferred work environment, so don’t limit yourself to larger firms.
Your qualifications and work experience play a role in getting you an interview. But other skills are also important. Accounting firms want to know that you can communicate well. You’re good with numbers, but can you communicate with your team? Can you break down complex accounting concepts into something the average client can understand? Being able to communicate well is one of the key elements in retaining clients.
Once you land your first job, you have the chance to grow with that firm. Larger accounting firms have more opportunity for growth than smaller firms that may have only a few employees. Many firms have management positions that give you room to grow beyond basic accounting responsibilities. A stable work history that shows progression is important to accounting firms looking to fill senior roles within the company.
Starting Your Own Firm
If working for someone else your whole life isn’t part of your plans, consider opening your own accounting firm. Running your own accounting business gives you control over the clients you accept, the type of work you do, and the hours you work. You might start out as the only accountant at the company. As you grow your company, you can hire other accountants to expand your business.
While many big firms offer almost every possible service to all types of businesses, newly formed accounting businesses often specialize. You might focus on accounting services for small businesses or focus only on a specific industry. Narrowly targeting your services when you first start your accounting company is a great way to help with your branding and increase your client base.
Whether you climb the ladder within an established accounting firm or grow your own accounting business, you have many opportunities for growth in the field. But remember, starting with a solid education and real-world experience paired with a well-recognized accounting qualification is key to your success.