Manageable ways for accountants to change jobs and maintain their salaries

Accountancy is an alluring profession: solid career progression, stable jobs and almost guaranteed employment. But what if you decide you need a change but don’t want to sacrifice your salary level? It’s a fear that many have even though it’s unfounded most of the time. Changing jobs may lead to a reduction in salary but not necessarily. If you have strong qualifications and good experience, why would it? Let me explain...

Sure, if you go to a new industry and have zero transferable skills, you may have a problem maintaining your current income, but could you also consider staying inside the same company or industry but doing a different job? An accountant who has experience in the finance sector would be more than suited to move into HR (for example) because they have a strong understanding of what it takes to become a good accounting professional.

What about qualifications? Yes, often they are necessary for a move like HR. Having said that, I have seen HR professionals in big consulting companies with no relevant qualifications. However, it’s probably still a good idea to get something like 5/6 month CIPD qualification to ensure that you understand things like employment law etc. Also, it will show that you’re genuinely interested in HR.

Recruitment is obviously connected to HR and often a function of HR, but there are also external recruitment agencies that specialise in finance professionals. Compared to internal recruitment, external recruitment can be a good choice for people who love fast paced work, talking to lots of people and of course, sales. It is a results driven profession so make sure you know what you’re getting into before taking the leap.

Business development… what’s that? It varies greatly depending on what the employer decides it is. It could be anything from developing a strategic vision for the company and organising a team to carry it out, to a role that focused contacting and winning new clients. Many accountants would have done this already by successfully bringing new clients into their practice, which would, in turn, help them get promoted. In you’re interested in business development jobs, the best thing to do is read the job requirements carefully to see how you would fit into the role. A word of caution: don’t get put off by intimidating jargon, learn to cut through that to find out what they’re really asking for.

Managing a project from start to finish… we all did it in college. Project management is a job that usually gets paid well and requires a variety of background knowledge and key transferable skills (interpersonal communication, conflict resolution and problem-solving etc.). Remember to distinguish content from process in this example. I find most people feel that if they don’t know all the technical details of a project, they can’t manage it - incorrect. That’s what the team are for, your job is to manage the project, not to do it. Therefore, it’s more important that you understand how to run a project and empower a team (delegate, monitor etc.).

Another common pathway is strategic consultancy. Well, what do they do? To be honest, I don’t know and I’m not sure they know either! Read through some of their job descriptions (I’ve read a lot) and you’ll find that what they’re often looking for is really open and ambiguous. I guess the reason for this is that they have to hire people to work on a project where they also don’t know the deliverables at the time of writing the job description. In general, they need people who can think critically and solve problems effectively.  

My own accountancy teacher in school had been in practice before changing careers, and apparently enjoyed it more than the professional world. Changing to secondary school teaching will, of course, require a higher diploma. But for third level institutions, there is more variety in educational requirements. It’s worth checking out each job description to find out exactly what they’re looking for and remember there are also private colleges who need teachers.

Watch the video below for more information on options and changing careers. Feel free to share this post with anyone whom you feel needs it. Thanks for reading.