For those in the military, or for those transitioning to civilian life, or for veterans, a "perfect career" might mean bringing the powerful leadership skills they learned through military training to the business world. Keen insight, a strategic mindset, teamwork, attention to detail, a strong work ethic — companies are looking for these skills, skills that are born from military experience.
For military spouses, a "perfect career" is undoubtedly quite flexible. Whether it's geographic mobility, work-life balance, or diversity across a wide range of industries, a job with a healthy degree of independence is essential because military life can be, at times, rather unpredictable.
On both counts, accounting scores big. First of all, military leaders make great accountants because the traits that define success in the armed forces mirror the traits that define success in the accounting profession. Secondly, there are few professions as flexible as accounting. Yes, it's a deadline-driven field, but it's also one that, depending on the discipline chosen, can be done from remote locations at off-peak hours or and can be managed as a free-lance operation.
Salary, stability, and satisfaction matter, too.
Taking on new challenges is great, but it doesn't pay the bills. Salary does. Accountants are paid well, with strong starting salaries and rapid salary progression. Even those with no experience start at over $50K and build to six figures in just five years. With some experience, the start can be higher and the progression faster.
Accountants are also in serious demand. U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics suggest that growth in the accounting profession will top 13 percent through 2022, with most new jobs going to those with Master of Accounting degrees and CPA designations.
Beyond the numbers, the profession ranks high on job satisfaction, finishing second to only engineers in a recent Monster.com survey and third in a U.S. News & World Report list of the "Best Business Jobs".
Opportunities to make a difference.
Pursuing an accounting career doesn't necessarily mean leaving civil service altogether. Federal agencies, such as the Department of Defense, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Internal Revenue Service — and even the CIA and FBI — are some of the largest employers of accounting and financial professionals.
Another option: following one's entrepreneurial spirit by creating an office from scratch or partnering with others. While most offices handle individual tax returns or returns for small businesses, an accounting education leads many into financial planning or investment management roles.
Major corporations and accounting firms of all sizes actively pursue military veterans for roles in tax strategy, auditing, or financial analysis because they value the soft skills that military experience delivers. These roles can lead to executive appointments as well, such as CFO, CEO, and VP of Finance positions.
The oft-mentioned soft skills are key, but, of course, accounting skills and knowledge are also required. Good news, however; for those with any undergraduate degree, a Master of Accounting degree can be earned in as little as one year. Moreover, some top universities now offer fully online programs, leveraging webcam-enabled classrooms to deliver interactive sessions that bring together students from across the country.
The University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School delivers its top-ranked Master of Accounting degree in online and on-campus formats. GMAT waivers and fellowship awards are considered for those with significant work or military experience and GI Bill Benefits can be used to fund the program's tuition.