Is it possible to become an accountant without a degree?

At a certain point in life, we all face a moment where we consider different career choices, whether it be for a drastic lifestyle change, or just simply to get a better salary. For some people, the most important thing is to find a job where there is always work, like a job in the food industry for example. An accountant always has work because everybody got taxes and bills to pay, it’s as simple as that. While most people think that accounting is some kind of rocket science and that it is hardly accessible, you would be surprised at the number of different positions

What’s a CPA?

CPA stands for Certified Public Accountant and is the acronym used in both Canada and USA. Even if the acronym is the same in both countries, the criteria for becoming a CPA differ in each country and is generally harder to achieve in the United States of America.

Moreover, a CPA or certified accountant’s job revolves around taking care of the following:

  • financial reports
  • bookkeeping
  • audits
  • insurances

There are actually different paths to becoming a CPA, but what’s interesting is that in recent years, more and more people have chosen the self-taught route. Can you get an accountant job easily without a degree in the US or Canada? That is what you are about to find out!

Where to start to becoming a freelance accountant at home?

Becoming a freelance accountant has never been as accessible as it is now. With all the resources available on the internet, anybody willing to put in the hours can learn accounting at home. Here are the steps to follow:

Learning the Basics to Become a Freelance Accountant

First and foremost, you will need to get some qualifications so you can show to your clients that you can do the job. However, these qualifications don’t need to rely on a diploma of any kind. For example, you can learn Quickbooks, a software that is widely used among accounting firms.

The Essentials before Job Hunting

As a second step, you will need obviously a base of some kind. The following college courses could help you get an accounting job:

  • Basic bookkeeping,
  • Accounting
  • Spreadsheet writing
  • Accounting software training program (to learn Quickbooks, for example)

Moreover, perhaps this goes without saying but strong basic knowledge in math, and a High School diploma at the very least are essentials if you want to be taken seriously.

Approaching New Potential Clients

Once you’ve learned how to use the different tools needed to perform general accounting tasks, you will need to approach potential clients. In the beginning, you will most likely want to aim for small businesses or startup companies that are looking for a cheaper alternative.

Try to find smaller accounting positions

Now that you are all set up for an accounting career, it is recommended you look for a bookkeeping or accounting clerk job before targeting the big gigs. If people like your work, then you will be able to slowly move up the ladder to an accountant position.

What’s the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant?

The Bookkeeper

To put it simply, a bookkeeper is in charge of the day-to-day tasks at hand. He or she will manage all sorts of transactions going in and out of the company or organization, such as:

  • sales
  • payroll
  • payment of bills
  • Recording daily transactions
  • deposits and income

The Accountant

The accountant, on the other hand, will be in charge of making sense of all the spreadsheets and data provided by the bookkeeper. Furthermore, an accountant will have to manage the following things:

  • Review the financial statements that were prepared by the bookkeeper
  • Analyzing and interpretation of the data provided by the bookkeeper
  • Make one or multiple reports out of the data provided
  • Share advice based on what they’ve reported

Where to find accounting work online?

A good way to build a good reputation and a solid portfolio is to sign up on a freelance job-hunting website. Nowadays, there are several options and you can sign up for many of them so you will have a bigger chance to get a job.

For example, and Upwork are two very competitive platforms in this field. To use them, you need to bet on job listings and if your bid gets accepted by the job poster, well done, you got work! Then, complete the accounting task required by the job poster and get paid either by the hour or for a total fixed amount.

How the hours are calculated if you are working from home you may ask? It’s simple, these platforms provide their own tools for you to calculate the hours you put on in the project you are involved in. It’s basically a virtual clock that counts your time spent on the job.

If you do your job properly, you are going to get a good review, and maybe the job poster will recommend you to others, and from there it will have a snowball effect.

How much can I get with an accounting job?

This varies depending on whether or not you are working in a firm, for a big company, or just as a freelancer for a startup. To give you an idea, it was reported by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics that the average annual salary for entry-level accountant positions (such as bookkeepers, auditing clerks, and accounting clerks) is around $38,390. This data was from the year 2016, so in 2021, you can expect a little bit over $45,000 for the average salary for such positions.

Now, for a fully-fledged accountant position, the average annual salary was estimated at around $68,150. An interesting and important point to take into consideration is that even though accounting will always be needed in some way or another, experts are estimating a reduction of at least 8% by 2024 of bookkeeping job opportunities. This reduction would mainly be caused by the automation software that are getting more advanced and accurate in recent years.

As a final word, you shouldn’t be worried too much about automation programs. At the end of the day, almost every company in the world still needs an accountant at some point, so it’s a very good career choice no matter what. On that note, good luck with your accounting journey!

Carry F.

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