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How to Become an Accounting Consultant 

There is a wide breadth of types of accounting jobs, and though each has a handful of idiosyncrasies making it unique, the majority of the work is pretty similar.

Much like healthcare, accounting jobs aren’t going anywhere for a long, long time, as we all pay taxes, and almost all businesses exist to turn a profit. 

For individuals who want to become accounting consultants, the standard path involves paying some dues as a member of an accounting firm, or a sole proprietor working for multiple clients to help them balance their books.

Equipped with an education, and a few years of real-world experience, confident accountants have the option of moving to the world of consulting.

This means your “product” will be your knowledge, and your job will be sharing that knowledge with companies looking to improve their financial reporting and the structure of their accounting teams to save money in the long run. 

Not only does accounting consulting allow for a bit of a change of venue, but it also tends to put the accounting consultants in a higher income tax bracket than that of accountants working for firms or for themselves. Here are some paths to take if you want to become an accounting consultant. 

Education/Certification

No matter how far you’d like to climb up the proverbial accounting ladder, in 2020 it’s borderline-necessity to first get your Certified Public Accountant certificate, or CPA.

There are associate degree programs available for accountants, but if you’re looking for fast-track to consulting, a bachelors is a must, and a masters would certainly help your cause.

(Those who have associate’s degrees and CPAs, but also have 10-plus years of experience already, are also in good shape if consulting is of interest.) 

Many consultants are sole-proprietors, and in order to be competitive in the field of accounting consultants, a masters degree can bring you up to par with individuals who may have literal decades of experience more than you.

Masters programs offer timely insight, new solutions to new problems, and a level of trust and respect from potential clients, as pursuing a graduate degree is no easy task.

In addition, a masters degree in business or accounting also teaches the ins and outs of how to run your own consulting firm.

Find a Niche

This can be a passive accomplishment for some, and if you’ve had an internship at a car dealership, for instance, and then a job at another one, you’re already creating a potential niche for your consulting project without putting in any real extra effort.

If you have a niche in mind that is outside of the scope of your current work, however, just further educate and see if there are certifications relevant to the areas of accounting you would like to consult for. 

There is certainly a line to toe, as far as not wanting to make your niche too narrow. However, with consulting, your potential client base can be as large as you want it, if you are willing to travel.

Therefore, determining your niche should be a step that you do a lot of trend analysis to ensure it will be something that has longevity.

Ultimately, finding the right niche can be the deciding factor on how financially well your consulting will do for you. 

Be a Business Person 

Even though accounting is a big part of business, not every accountant has the chops to be a business person.

Much like finding your niche, this aspect of becoming a consulting accountant can be learned on the job. 

Therefore, finding a mentor at your workplace who really seems to know the way to handle and please clients is a great move to build your case of becoming a successful consultant

Wrap-Up

Ultimately, the moral of this article is “learn a lot”.

Consultants are people who companies reach out to for their knowledge and expertise, and the more of those things you have, the more success you will have as a consultant.

Learn every single day, take notes, create a consulting portfolio, and then learn some more outside of work!

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