Accountancy - Love It or Hate It?
A chilling survey, admittedly from the United States, suggests that people working as accountants or tax specialists would love to be doing something else. Indeed almost anything else would be an improvement.
CareerCast.com, a career website, ranked 200 jobs from best to worst based on five criteria: physical demands, work environment, income, stress, and hiring outlook. To compile its list, the firm primarily used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other government agencies. Its findings would send any self-respecting accountant or tax consultant into therapy.
Over a long career, your columnist has generally come to the conclusion that there are very few careers that would have been more enjoyable than advising on tax. That remains the case even as the tax industry gets daily lashings, both deserved an undeserved, from politicians.
The combination of dealing with usually grateful clients, tussling with the Revenue and doing bits of numerical and legal analysis is unbeatable. Even the joys of auditing cannot compete.
Most of us might well feel that this is a far better way to spend our lives than sweeping the streets, driving articulated lorries or possibly even working as a golf professional, out teaching no hopers right through the winter. Regrettably, this new survey by the American website seemingly gives this theory the lie.
While the life of an actuary is reputedly stunningly boring, if well remunerated, those that are obsessive about numbers have pushed it to the top of the list of jobs to die for and who are we to argue?
Our distant cousins, financial advisers are happy with their lot too, making it into the top five.
It is therefore chastening to discover that the dear old accountant only comes in at number 47, one place above the management consultant. If that wasn't bad enough, tax preparer is at 186 nestling uncomfortably between waiter/waitress and dishwasher!
The obvious question is what we might be doing instead? Maybe we should all be looking for a career change after discovering that we hate what we have been doing perfectly happily for the last umpteen years.
While disc jockey and photojournalist both sound glamorous, neither makes it into the top 175, and both are below auto assemblers and more than 100 places beneath that glamorous (and rather worrying) occupation of nuclear decontamination technician.
It has to be said that not too many of the top 10 jobs sounds all that tempting to this writer, although it might help to know what an audiologist actually is and does.
There are a number of different conclusions that we can reach as a result of studying the survey.
This could be a good time to ask a question as to whether we really are doing something worthwhile and enjoyable. Having answered with a resounding yes, it might at least be interesting to consider switching to the jobs that Americans love most. However, if every accountant became an actuary or dental hygienist (number 6), they would almost certainly hate that just as much as they do their current work.
Things are even worse for your dedicated columnist, since if he were to choose the obvious alternative career, that of journalist, he would dive from the giddy heights of number 186 to least popular job of all at 200 and almost disappear from the list completely.
Perhaps the truth of the matter is that this survey has come to the kind of conclusion that none of us can imagine. Even if we go through ups and downs in our daily lives, I doubt that very many of us are currently considering jacking it all in to try something completely different, which is unlikely to make as much happier anyway.
Alternatively, perhaps we should look to the British equivalent survey identified by Robert Lovell in his blog published last week. It suggested that "accountants are amongst the happiest workers in Britain", while cautioning that despite all of this jollity, there has been "a surge of accountants seeking help to deal with things like depression and anxiety"
The one big concern about writing an article of this type is that if people read and act on it, the profession could be denuded and AccountingWEB suddenly find itself without customers or income. Perish the thought.