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Would you recommend Career switch in 2021

I am thinking of switching careers,aged 25, but a little apprehensive about the future of accounting

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Hello All,

I currently work in the IT space as a Robotic Process Automation developer. I use a piece of software that automates repetitive tasks. I am 25 years old, live in the UK, and currently earn £55,000. I have been thinking about a career and am thinking about the accounting route. I am considering the change for the reasons.
 

  • I have job/career anxiety. Within the IT industry, the pace of change is so rapid that I constantly feel that I am behind the curve, and I worry that the industry/software that I am using will soon be out of favor. I have also worked in some IT Teaching roles and the thing that stood out to me was the age of some of the students (30+). It feels like in the IT industry you are constantly having to learn new technologies and what you are working with today may well be redundant in 5/10 years. I would prefer a job where the core of it stays the same, so I am working towards a fixed target rather than a moving one. I feel like the core/fundamentals of accounting have been pretty much the same for a long time. If I do a quick job search for the software I use in my current role I get returned 65 jobs. If I type in accountant, however, I get 14,000 results.

 

  • Whilst studying A-levels and Physics at university I always enjoyed the Mathematical and statistical side of things.

I understand that I would have to take a pay cut as I would effectively be starting from the bottom, however, this is not a major concern for me. I would rather £40k a year with a guaranteed job than 60k and having constant anxiety about job security, in my future career

I have the following questions which I would be keen to get your opinions on;

Q1) I have read a few articles which paint a gloomy picture for accounting due to automation, Cloud accounting software, AI, etc. What are your opinions on this? (In my current role I am automating quite a few Accounting and Finance processes, although these are mainly lower-level activities (data entry, AP processing, reconciliations))

Q2) Is 25 too late to start studying to be an accountant? and what the best path forward for me, whilst I am still working in IT. It looks as though AAT would be a good starting point?

Q3) Would you recommend a career in accountancy in 2021?

Replies (20)

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By paul.benny
05th Apr 2021 13:29

This sort of question is asked regularly here - the search function here is not great, but have you tried searching previous posts?

Yes, some finance tasks are being automated - but as you note, these are mostly lower skilled clerical tasks. I think it the ability of so-called AI to take over matters of judgement is a long way off. As demonstrated in many of the discussions here, incomplete information can lead to incorrect judgements.

Is 25 too old? No. But the question I would ask as prospective employer is Why specifically accountancy - rather than it being just Not Whatever You're Doing Now. And to be clear, in practically all accounting jobs, it's got bggr all to do with maths. Numeracy, yes. Which often means the ability so to say that those numbers don't look right (even though the may add up).

Would I recommend a career in accountancy? Would you recommend a career in IT?

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By tom123
05th Apr 2021 13:48

55k at 25 is great earnings, don't you think?

All jobs can be a pain - accountancy is no different.

I work in 'industry', and can see many jobs migrating to cheaper EU countries - even if the physical factories are still running in the UK.

I would have thought IT is more likely to have a diverse future than compliance based accountancy work.

Having said that, 25 is not 'too old' for anything.

Can you combine the two, and specialise in accountancy based IT?

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Replying to tom123:
By Moonbeam
05th Apr 2021 15:17

I agree 100% with Tom123. Not many accountants will have your level of IT skills.
However, getting a trainee job might be a tad difficult, due to your age. Best idea is to see whether the finance department of your current employer might be the place to move to. It's a lot easier changing career with an employer who knows you than knocking on doors.

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By Truthsayer
05th Apr 2021 15:00

You would very likely regret giving up earning £55,000 at age 25 for anything. Accountancy is far less secure than you think. Why not add to your existing skills rather than move to a completely new field? Don't make the mistake of seeing greener grass.

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Psycho
By Wilson Philips
05th Apr 2021 17:09

It’s a facetious reply, but why not do both? So many IT professionals visiting this site seem to think that it can be done.

Thanks (1)
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By GR
05th Apr 2021 18:27

Q1. Long term future is gloomy (say 20+ years). It is getting easier and easier for clients to do their own accounts.

Q2. Not too late. If possible, stay in your current job and start working your way through some of the ACCA exams to see if you like accounting.

Q3. No. If you are 45+ you will probably get to retirement with a job. If you are under 45 then you may end up redundant just like other workers whose jobs get automated.

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Replying to GR:
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By paul.benny
06th Apr 2021 07:15

GR wrote:

Q1. Long term future is gloomy (say 20+ years). It is getting easier and easier for clients to do their own accounts.

You mean "long term future for accountants in practice serving small trader clients". The great majority of qualified accountants work outside public practice.

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Red Leader
By Red Leader
05th Apr 2021 18:52

Accountant: has to keep up to date with constant tax changes.
Software developer: has to keep up to date with constant tech evolution.

Software developer: earns £55k at 25 years old.
Accountant: where do I apply for the software job, please?

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
05th Apr 2021 20:07

I am not a software developer/engineer however my son, age 29, is, so I would make the following non developer observations:

1. Developing appears to be less about having a detailed knowledge of individual programming languages and more about being aware of what is available/ out there, how it can be harnessed, generally how users interface with software (HCI) and how the skeleton of the software being developed/ used is formed/created over which the detailed programming is then hung and joined together- these skills, and all the soft skills (finding out what clients need/want) ,are the constant

2.Accountancy appears to be less about having a detailed knowledge of all individual details and more about being aware of the current, ever changing, position, how it all interfaces, generally how users have accounting data presented to them and how the legislation and reporting standards relate to one another and to a degree why;these skills, and all the soft skills (finding out what clients need/want) ,are the constant.

Meet the New Boss, same as the Old Boss, I doubt there is a profession that exists that does not involve constantly learning, that need to right throughout one's career read, read and read again is why the professions are paid what they are paid, if you are not happy doing all the reading and continual relearning do not join a profession.

Thanks (1)
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By DaveyJonesLocker
06th Apr 2021 00:20

The automation of accounting is overstated. The reality of current products compared to their adverts is a huge gap.

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Replying to DaveyJonesLocker:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
06th Apr 2021 09:11

Automation is like an iceberg, it is not what you currently see available to buy that will sink you but the other 7/8ths.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By DaveyJonesLocker
06th Apr 2021 09:35

I would liken it to The Emperor's New Clothes rather than Titanic

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Replying to DaveyJonesLocker:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
06th Apr 2021 10:17

So you do not see an inevitability?

Timing could be out by a generation but the direction of travel to me looks pretty clear.

One only needs to study say the pace of Enclosures once they got rolling , the move of the population from land to city, the concentration of work efforts into factories from cottage industries, to see that whilst changes of that magnitude (which was a far greater revolution than data automation) did not run smoothly and evenly they did in the main run in one direction.

The interesting thing about history is how it contracts as one gets older, for instance when I was younger WW2 was distant but in reality it ended only 15 years before I was born which is really nothing, I have been married 30 years, so events that once seem very distant get closer as one gets older and the forces of history and its progress no longer seems to take place over long time spans but actually over quite short periods. (for instance I can reach directly into the late Victorian just by remembering chats with my grandfather who was born in 1891 and died in 1989)

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By RaxJ
06th Apr 2021 12:18

My advice, do something else other than accounting.

This is a boring, tedious, and unhealthy profession quite frankly.

Think of your passions and interests and do something with that.

This profession is also very saturated with many accountants. Not enough jobs to go around.

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Replying to RaxJ:
By Moonbeam
06th Apr 2021 12:32

There are dull, tedious accountancy jobs aplenty in the profession. Then there are the more exciting ones in commerce. Not all of them are exciting, but there is a niche for every accountant if they search hard enough. There are never enough jobs anywhere for people who are also rans.
Give me the right set of clients and being involved in their businesses lights up my day.

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By RaxJ
06th Apr 2021 12:22

DONT DO IT!!

My advice, do something else other than accounting.

This is a boring, tedious, and unhealthy profession quite frankly.

Think of your passions and interests and do something with that.

This profession is also very saturated with many accountants. Not enough jobs to go around.

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By paul.benny
06th Apr 2021 13:18

So, Mr/s yusa1995, you've had a variety of responses over the last 24hours+. What do you think now?

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By SteveHa
06th Apr 2021 13:20

Quote:
Within the IT industry, the pace of change is so rapid that I constantly feel that I am behind the curve, and I worry that the industry/software that I am using will soon be out of favor. I have also worked in some IT Teaching roles and the thing that stood out to me was the age of some of the students (30+). It feels like in the IT industry you are constantly having to learn new technologies and what you are working with today may well be redundant in 5/10 years.

Do you honestly think that accountancy and tax are any different. In fact, over the past 12 months things have changed at time on a daily, or twice daily rate. At least with IT (I'm a qualified programmer) things need to be developed before the changes arrive, providing a buffer.

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By S Gill
06th Apr 2021 13:21

To OP,
Does money motivate you?
Are you prepared to give up a £55k year salary to be a trainee accountant?
As a graduate on an ACA contract you might get £20-£25k depending on your location, £30k ish as a newly qualified maybe another 5/10 years after then with some serious networking and attracting clients could you hope to achieve a salary anywhere near £55k.
Stick with IT till you're 30. Bank your salary. Train in accountancy then work for yourself.

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By yusa1995
06th Apr 2021 21:33

Hello all,

Many thanks for all of your replies!

I will certainly begin the AAT in my spare time (Weekends and after work) to get a better feel for if accounting is for me.

I have sent an email to the accounting department informing them that I am interested in studying for the ACCA in my spare time to find out about possible study support etc.

It sounds like in the future there will be a good amount of demand for individuals with both accounting and technical knowledge, so I feel like studying some accounting will not be completely in vain, even if I decide not to change careers at this moment in time.

Once again thanks for all of your views on these topics, it has been great to hear different opinions about the field of accounting and the future of accounting.

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