Accounting is a hugely varied field. An accountant’s job may involve collecting, examining and communicating information about financial transactions to regulators, investors and management. They might look at whether the business is making a profit, meeting taxation requirements or effectively managing its investments. Regardless of their responsibilities, accountants occupy important positions within a company and are typically in high demand.
If you’re interested in pursuing accounting as a career, we explore where you can study and why you may want to consider this exciting and varied role.
Where can you study accounting in Australia?
If you want to know how to become an accountant in Australia, the good news is that there are many institutions across the country offering accounting courses. These courses include TAFE certificates or diplomas, undergraduate and postgraduate university degrees, and certifications organised by professional accounting bodies.
Examples of university accounting courses include Bachelor of Commerce – Accounting, Bachelor of Business (Accountancy) and Master of Professional Accounting. The best university to study accounting in Australia depends on where you plan to live and the course you are looking to study.
But university isn’t the only place you can gain a qualification. TAFE institutions and vocational colleges also provide courses for international students, such as Diploma of Accounting and Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping.
What are CPA, ACCA and CAANZ?
In addition to university and TAFE, there are also industry-specific professional bodies that offer accreditation for accounting programs in Australia. In addition, they offer learning pathways, professional development as well as membership and employability support to budding and qualified accountants.
To be a member of a professional body, you will generally need to complete specific exams, maintain 36 months of supervised work experience and have completed a relevant ethics module that is specific to the relevant body.
These organisations advocate for higher industry standards on behalf of their members, and ensure members abide by a code of ethics and provide life-long learning to members to upgrade their skills and be industry ready in an ever-evolving industry.
Examples of professional accounting bodies include the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), CPA Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand (CA ANZ).
Professional accounting bodies may differ in the causes they champion as well as their local or international presence and recognition. So, you should always choose one that best suits your values and aspirations for your accounting career. Some professional bodies also form alliances with each other, providing mutual recognition of membership, mutual accessibility to events and resources, as well as to create a strong voice for the profession. For example, find out more about the global strategic alliance between ACCA and CAANZ.
Why should you study accounting in Australia?
Whether you study at university, TAFE or via a professional organisation, a career in accounting can lead to exciting professional opportunities both here and overseas. Some of the major benefits of becoming an accountant include:
- Studying at high-quality education providers. Australia is home to many sought-after institutions where you can learn valuable skills to kickstart your career in accounting. Institutions in this country are recognised globally and accredited by regulators to ensure the highest quality of education.
- Having a clear career path. Ever had to make a tough decision about what you want to do in life? Choosing a career in accounting makes identifying your next steps considerably clearer – you learn practical skills that employers need, and accounting jobs are found across multiple industries.
- Working in an in-demand industry. Effective accounting is critical to a company’s success. As the industry evolves over time, businesses need accountants to keep track of things like cash flow, which is the money coming in and going out of the business. New online technologies and e-commerce also make accountants highly valuable employees.
- Working for the Big Four. There are major opportunities for professional growth at renowned firms like Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC – which are casually known as the ‘Big Four’, the four largest professional accounting networks in the world. Working for one of the Big Four accounting networks means greater potential for you to develop your reputation in the industry, seek promotions and work across a variety of areas.
- The wide range of roles. As you might be able to tell, accounting is far more exciting than it might initially seem. Accounting graduates can find work as auditors, economists, stockbrokers or even as the chief financial officer (CFO) of a major company. The rise of automation, cyber-crimes, blockchain technology and alternative finance also means that accounting roles have evolved to meet the demands of current times. Having learned money management skills and financial best practices, you could even create your own small business and work as a sole trader.
- Opportunities to work overseas. There is potential for you to take your qualification overseas after graduating – to Singapore, for instance, or Hong Kong, which are key global financial hubs, or even back to your home country. By working overseas, you can expand your professional network, build knowledge about local accounting practices, and boost your confidence in new and exciting locations. You can also take comfort in knowing that your accounting degrees are based on international accounting standards that are applicable in many countries around the world, and are highly portable. Based on an ACCA survey conducted with Gen Zs, global mobility is at the heart and centre of career progression for many budding accountants.
How much do accountants earn in Australia?
On average, an accountant working full-time in Australia earns around $88,000 per year. This can vary depending on your level of seniority, how long you’ve been working in the industry and the type of accounting you practise.
If we’ve managed to convince you to take up accounting, a great next step is to check out the requirements to study accounting in Australia. Good luck!