Can I Become An Accountant With A Math Degree?
"I am about to graduate this year with a mathematics degree. I majored in math for the reason that I enjoy it. But then I realized I wasn’t all that thrilled about most of the careers which I saw for mathematicians. I mean, I can’t possibly become a programmer. I am terrible at that stuff. And teaching would really irritate me. And then I got to thinking about accounting. Accountants have to be really good at math, don’t they? And I know way more about math than most people who actually have an accounting degree. The job itself looks interesting and useful, and I’m sure it would pay really well. It definitely sounds more appealing than the other options out there. So can I become an accountant with the degree I have?"
Asked by Dean from Topeka, KS on July 6, 2013
Answer to "Can I Become An Accountant With A Math Degree?"
You can theoretically become an accountant with a math degree, but not only with a math degree. The reason is that mathematics and accounting overlap, but they are hardly one and the same field. You have learned a ton of mathematics which has no application whatsoever in accounting. That much is true. And you certainly know the basic operations which accountants use each day. But that doesn’t mean you are ready to become an accountant.
Do you know even the most basic accounting procedures? How much of your mathematics degree focused on applied math? Were any of your classes focused on mathematics and accounting? You have to take at least some basic accounting classes before you can become an accountant. That does not necessarily mean that you need to get a second degree, but you certainly should think about at least taking some extra courses.
And then to top it off, you are going to need to get some work experience as well as pass the CPA exam. You may not necessarily need to be a CPA to get a job in accounting, but you need to be able to demonstrate to a potential employer you are at least on your way in that direction (that is where those basic accounting classes come in). Then you can either aim to take the exam and pass it and then get a job, or get a job which is available to you with your limited accounting education and your math degree, and then take the exam when you are ready.
This may sound intimidating, but you should not be entirely discouraged. You do have some good things playing out in your favor. You have a math degree, which is a degree not everybody can get. You automatically look smart and dedicated when you apply for a job with a math degree, and that is certainly going to weigh in on your side. You may want to enroll in a college in some beginning accounting classes and have a talk with an advisor who can help you to figure out the most efficient path to your destination.