Expanding your business career options Featured

5:25am EDT March 27, 2006

The accounting field has grown by leaps and bounds, thanks in part to federal legislation like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that enacted new financial and accounting reporting requirements for public companies. Savvy business professionals are taking advantage of this trend by seeking new ways to make themselves more marketable, while opening up new career options by expanding their business degree with an accounting degree.

The growth in accounting and new educational opportunities for business professionals with non-accounting degrees mean more opportunities than ever to expand your career options with accounting, says Dr. Jim Brodzinski of The College of Mount St. Joseph.

“Many business majors who shied away from getting an accounting degree in school find out that accounting is something they deal with in their jobs anyway, so why not add flexibility and mobility to a career by expanding a business degree with accounting?” he says. “Accounting is one of today’s hottest fields and is expected to continue to grow for the foreseeable future.”

Smart Business spoke with Brodzinski about how the field of accounting has grown and what that means for business professionals who are looking to expand their career options.

Why should today’s business professional consider expanding a business degree with accounting?
Jobs! Accounting is one of those interesting areas where there always seems to be a job market. According to government statistics, the accounting field is expected to grow 16 percent to 24 percent over the next 10 years. Keep in mind that whenever the economy expands with more businesses, they all need accountants. Another key contributor to this growth is federal legislation in response to the business ethic scandals over the last few years. In particular, the Sabanes-Oxley Act has had a dramatic impact on accounting employment.

How can a business professional expand a business degree with accounting?
There are a number of ways. One is simply to take some general accounting courses to obtain more experience.

But there are also more formal programs, like what we offer at the College of Mount St. Joseph, that are designed to provide a bachelor of science degree in accounting. This requires a bachelor’s degree in business with at least one year’s worth of accounting courses, which is pretty standard for most business degrees. Students take 30 semester hours over 18 months and graduate with a bachelor of science in accounting. It gives them an opportunity to get the accounting degree, but it also gives them enough hours to sit for the CPA exam, which requires 150 semester hours of college coursework. This is a nice approach because not only do they get a lot of bang for the buck from the program, but also because it is so focused on accounting, they truly become immersed in the topic.

Many programs like the one at the Mount are targeted specifically to the working professional, offering evening classes so the program won’t interfere with a person’s professional responsibilities.

What opportunities exist for business professionals who seek career advancement in the field of accounting?
In addition to gaining an additional skill set that allows them to expand their career options at their current place of employment, there’s also a range of accounting career options including working for a large national or regional public accounting firm, management accounting, government accounting, becoming an internal auditor, starting your own private accounting and/or financial management practice. Flexibility and options are both great benefits of an accounting degree.

How has the field of accounting grown, and what does that mean for business professionals?
The most recent growth has certainly come from the changes in federal legislation with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. However, every time the economy expands and more businesses are created, there’s a complementary need for more accountants. Additional career options have also opened up as accountants are branching out into managerial accounting, financial services and personal accounting.

Accounting is a great career choice for someone who is interested in running his or her own business. It’s also the kind of thing that can be done on the side, while maintaining a full- or part-time career elsewhere.

What does a business professional need to acquire the skills necessary for the field of accounting?
Primarily, it comes down to the necessary coursework and proper training. A business degree is a great place to start, and an accounting degree can be added at any time. Keep in mind that if you’re going into public accounting, a CPA is required along with a business degree.

JIM BRODZINSKI, Ph.D., SPHR, is a professor and chairman of the department of business administration and director of the master of science in organizational leadership program for the College of Mount St. Joseph. Reach him at (513) 244-4918 or jim_brodzinski@mail.msj.edu.