How to become an accounting consultant

Being an accountant can mean far more than preparing tax returns, compiling financial statements, handling technical compliance work or providing back-office accounting services. It’s becoming increasing popular for many CPAs to offer their services in an accounting consultant capacity, which is a bridge to becoming the holistic trusted advisor consumers are looking for in today’s economic climate.

What is accounting consulting?

Let’s examine the definition of accounting consulting and describe exactly what accounting consultants do, how to become an accounting consultant, why you should consider making the switch, and much more.

Accounting consulting may include a wide variety of engagements that help your clients improve their financial position, enhance their internal processes and procedures, and streamline their accounting protocols. Accounting consulting jobs may involve:

  • Helping your business clients maintain efficient and accurate accounting practices
  • Providing your expertise to help clients understand the meaning behind their financial data and how those numbers affect their business
  • Examining your clients’ profitability
  • Developing or implementing consistent accounting practices for your clients

What do accounting consultants do?

An accounting consultant can serve as both teacher and guide for a business, especially when the business could benefit from accounting services or improvements to their own accounting processes and procedures.

Accounting consulting can vary from client to client, project to project, firm to firm, or consultant to consultant. However, there are some staples of accounting consulting that seem to be widely adopted. Some of the most common services that accounting consultants offer include:

  • Financial forecasting
  • Financial health evaluation and recommendations
  • Year-end financial statement preparation
  • Financial statement analysis, interpretation and evaluation
  • Advising on regulatory compliance issues
  • Profitability analysis
  • Accounts payable analysis, including cash flow, workflow, and savings investigations
  • Accounting service needs identification
  • Accounting process evaluation and system implementation

No two accounting consulting job descriptions are the same. When you ask what accounting consultants do, there are many different answers, depending on the different needs their clients have, the areas of specialization they focus on, their geographic region, and many other factors.

It’s just so much more predictable to know which clients you’re working with on a consulting basis. We see that as the future of the whole firm. Consulting will be 90% of our business. And being able to help the people on the front end, it just makes such a huge difference to us.

How do I become an accounting consultant?

If you’re wondering how to transition into accounting consulting, you’re in good company. It’s fairly common for CPAs to become part-time or full-time consultants just prior to retirement, while others enjoy the benefits of greater flexibility and control over their schedules earlier in their careers. Another option is to consult on the side, or in between permanent jobs.

No matter the timing of your transition to accounting consulting, you will need to plan your new business in advance. There may be additional training or education to help you specialize in a particular type of consulting, but there are also other considerations that require some forethought.

When starting your accounting consulting business, consider these tips:

  • Determine what type of accounting consulting work you want to do
  • Make a list of your specialized skills and areas of expertise; highlight those that you are passionate about
  • Identify any educational or technical skill gaps that you should or want to fill to broaden your knowledge base
  • Evaluate your soft skills, as you will be working closely with clients and their staff in your consulting role
  • Determine whether you are organized enough to run your own business as a consultant
  • Map out your goals – what do you want to accomplish with your accounting consulting business?
  • Take some classes or get additional certifications, if prudent to do so
  • Look through your LinkedIn connections and reach out to a few top contacts to ask them how they feel about consulting services and if they would be interested in working with you
  • Join trade and industry associations that align with your target market and areas of specialization and expertise

With the implementation of Practice Forward within our firm, we’ve been able to look at avenues — marketing avenues, staff development avenues, and also community participation avenues — that we may not have had before because of cash flow, time or staffing constraints. We were working on too many projects or trying to accomplish too much in too little of a timeframe. Now we’re able to participate in AICPA task force and planning committees, state society events, and other community events to really enhance the culture of our firm.

Find The Best Accounting Consultant Jobs For You

Where do you want to work?

Accounting Consultant Careers

As an Accounting Consultant Administrative, you will provide clients, companies, and individuals with services that help them analyze their financial information. Your information allows clients to make important business decisions and analyze their financial information. You will need a strong background in finance, regulations, and accounting procedures to qualify for this role. Opportunities in this field exist in professional services firms. You can also offer consulting services in your own business.

If you would like to be an Accounting Consultant Administrative, you will need a bachelor’s degree in finance or accounting plus knowledge of accounting principles, regulations, and financial reporting.

Many companies will prefer a graduate degree plus a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential. You will also need verified accounting work experience. You can make an average yearly salary of $40,000 to $116,000.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being an accounting consultant. For example, did you know that they make an average of $30.83 an hour? That’s $64,122 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 6% and produce 90,700 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does an Accounting Consultant Do

There are certain skills that many accounting consultants have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed analytical skills, communication skills and organizational skills.

When it comes to the most important skills required to be an accounting consultant, we found that a lot of resumes listed 15.8% of accounting consultants included cpa, while 13.4% of resumes included procedures, and 12.1% of resumes included gaap. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

When it comes to searching for a job, many search for a key term or phrase. Instead, it might be more helpful to search by industry, as you might be missing jobs that you never thought about in industries that you didn’t even think offered positions related to the accounting consultant job title. But what industry to start with? Most accounting consultants actually find jobs in the professional and technology industries.

How To Become an Accounting Consultant

If you’re interested in becoming an accounting consultant, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We’ve determined that 68.0% of accounting consultants have a bachelor’s degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 14.8% of accounting consultants have master’s degrees. Even though most accounting consultants have a college degree, it’s possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become an accounting consultant. When we researched the most common majors for an accounting consultant, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor’s degree degrees or master’s degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on accounting consultant resumes include associate degree degrees or diploma degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become an accounting consultant. In fact, many accounting consultant jobs require experience in a role such as controller. Meanwhile, many accounting consultants also have previous career experience in roles such as staff accountant or senior accountant.

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we’ll match you with the right jobs to get there.

How to become an accounting consultant

Table of Contents

  • What Do Accounting Consultants Do?
  • How to Become an Accounting Consultant
  • Accounting Consultant Job Description Sample

What Do Accounting Consultants Do?

An accounting consultant advises businesses on financial decisions and their accounting systems. Common duties performed by an accounting consultant include improving accounting practices, preparing year-end financial statements, analyzing financial data, and advising the finance department on regulatory compliance issues. An accounting consultant helps business leaders stay abreast of changes in tax laws and financial reporting requirements, which ensures compliance with federal laws. An accounting consultant may provide these business services as an employee of an accounting firm, but some accounting consultants work as independent contractors. Similar job titles include financial advisor, business manager, and accounting advisor.

How to Become an Accounting Consultant

The qualifications you need to become an accounting consultant include a bachelor’s or master’s degree in accounting, finance, business, economics, or a related field. Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can significantly increase employment opportunities. Prior experience as a financial advisor or in a role that involves working with financial portfolios is beneficial. An accounting consultant must be familiar with accounting principles and regulations and stay updated on each relevant economic trend. They also need strong math and analytical skills when reviewing numbers or other data to fulfill their duties successfully.

Accounting Consultant Job Description Sample

With this Accounting Consultant job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember though, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for their Accounting Consultant position.

Summary

Our company is looking for an Accounting Consultant to help us improve our accounting practices. Our ideal candidate is a certified public accountant (CPA) with several years of both public accounting and consulting experience. In this role, you will help us with reconciling our invoices and balance sheets, issuing financial statements, and ensuring that our accounting department follows all generally accepted accounting principles (US GAAP). In addition to your CPA license, you should also have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting. However, we prefer candidates with a master’s degree.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Maintain transaction records
  • Analyze our accounting processes for areas of improvement
  • Coach accountants on US GAAP
  • Maintain documentation of current procedures
  • Update accounting computer systems

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in accounting (Master’s degree preferred)
  • CPA license
  • Significant consulting and accounting experience
  • Strong math and communication skills
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ilearn blog:
July 07,
2015

Accounting skills : How to Become an Accounting Consultant

Most accountants work from accounting firms or home offices that offer accounting services to the public, private companies or the government. However, a growing section of the accounting trade is offering their services as business consultants, helping businesses and people to restructure their financial reporting, analyze fiscal data and conform to new regulations. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the demand for accountants and auditors will rise approximately 16 percent in the next decade, meaning there is still steady growth in the industry. Accounting consultants must be leaders in their field, who can offer advice and solutions to people after thoughtful research. Learn how to become an accounting consultant.

    Develop advanced skills in mathematics and computers. Today’s accountants must have technical skill in both areas to handle the demands and changes of the industry. Start taking advanced math and computer classes in high school.

Earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting. If you aspire to be a consultant, you will want to choose a bachelor’s degree over an associate’s degree in order to advance quickly and gain leadership experience. Earn at least 120 credits in your program, and opt for more credits if possible.

o Earn the additional 30 credits needed to become a certified CPA. Most states require 150 credit hours. Applying for certification may take a year or 2 because you are required to get work experience under a licensed CPA; however, you can take extra credits to achieve the educational requirement.

Apply to entry to mid-level positions in accounting firms. Bachelor’s degree graduates with internship experience may be able to move into associate positions more quickly than other graduates. Apply for a job with the type of accounting firm (business, public, government) you would like to work with.

o If possible, apply to accounting firms that offer a wide variety of services. You need a broad range of experiences in order to become a consultant, so you should be exposed to different industries.

Earn your certification. You can choose to be either a Certified Public Accountant or a Certified Management Accountant (CMA). You have 18 months to pass all portions of the test once you start the process, if you want to be a CPA.

o Becoming a CMA and working with financial institutions and companies is a different process. You are required to join the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and then you have 120 days to pass 4 sections of the test.

o Consult your state’s certification board to learn all the requirements for certification in your state. You are required to become licensed in order to offer accounting services independently.

Gain a master’s degree in accounting or a master’s degree in business (MBA) with an emphasis in accounting. These 2 degrees will put you on track to start your own business or become an independent business consultant. A master’s degree gives you added expertise that will make you more valuable to potential clients.

o Earning an MBA will give you the added skills needed to create and market a consulting business when the time comes. You will eventually need to develop services, a marketing strategy and a business plan, and these courses can help you.

Join trade associations. As you gain expertise in a certain area, cement that knowledge by seeking training and affiliation with organizations, such as the American Institute of CPAs, the Association of Governmental Accountants and the Professional Association of Small Business Accountants. You will be required to pay yearly membership fees.

o You may also choose to align yourself with trade organizations. If you work with the oil and gas industry, you may want to join the National Petroleum Institute to receive information on new legislation regularly.

  • Research and take classes on many different types of accounting software. You should have a broad knowledge base, so that you can recommend accounting systems to your clients. If you are looking for continuing education credits to stay licensed, this is an excellent way to earn them.
  • Network with trade organizations, local charity groups and community organizations. Take on roles as the treasurer or leader of the organization to develop useful contacts. Gain friends that can refer clients to you when you become a consultant.
  • Begin consulting on a part-time basis. Few people are able to gain full-time work when they first start consulting. If your job entitles you to do accounting consulting outside of the office, do this to start building a client list.
  • Start your accounting consulting business. Spend plenty of time developing a business plan, getting financing for start up costs and developing professional marketing materials.
  • Market yourself. Learn to play golf or find another way to network with the people who would hire you. As a consultant, you must take advantage of every referral and develop a reputation for excellence.
  • Become a leader in your field. Attend conferences, write an expert blog or articles and develop thoughtful and successful changes for companies. You should consider it your job to be well educated and develop problem solving skills for a variety of industries and companies.
  • Find The Best Accountant/Consultant Jobs For You

    Where do you want to work?

    Accountant/Consultant Careers

    If you have a knack for numbers and figures, a career as an accounting/consultant can be both lucrative and rewarding. An accountant/consultant can work independently or for an organization and conduct financial forecasting, analyze financial statements, and determine the profitability of a company.

    Most accounting/consultants have a bachelor’s or an associate’s degree in accounting, finance, or business and should have a comprehensive knowledge of finances, tax laws, and accounting software.

    Although an advanced degree is not needed to become an accountant/consultant, competency in math is essential, as well as excellent computational, analytical, and communication skills. An accountant/consultant can make up to $60,000 annually, and the career field is expected to grow 6% by 2028.

    There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being an accountant/consultant. For example, did you know that they make an average of $29.54 an hour? That’s $61,438 a year!

    Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 6% and produce 90,700 job opportunities across the U.S.

    What Does an Accountant/Consultant Do

    There are certain skills that many accountant/consultants have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed analytical skills, communication skills and detail oriented.

    When it comes to the most important skills required to be an accountant/consultant, we found that a lot of resumes listed 18.0% of accountant/consultants included account management, while 16.9% of resumes included customer service, and 14.5% of resumes included product knowledge. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

    When it comes to searching for a job, many search for a key term or phrase. Instead, it might be more helpful to search by industry, as you might be missing jobs that you never thought about in industries that you didn’t even think offered positions related to the accountant/consultant job title. But what industry to start with? Most accountant/consultants actually find jobs in the technology and finance industries.

    How To Become an Accountant/Consultant

    If you’re interested in becoming an accountant/consultant, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We’ve determined that 64.7% of accountant/consultants have a bachelor’s degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 9.9% of accountant/consultants have master’s degrees. Even though most accountant/consultants have a college degree, it’s possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

    Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become an accountant/consultant. When we researched the most common majors for an accountant/consultant, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor’s degree degrees or associate degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on accountant/consultant resumes include master’s degree degrees or high school diploma degrees.

    You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become an accountant/consultant. In fact, many accountant/consultant jobs require experience in a role such as accountant. Meanwhile, many accountant/consultants also have previous career experience in roles such as staff accountant or account executive.

    What is the right job for my career path?

    Tell us your goals and we’ll match you with the right jobs to get there.

    How to become an accounting consultant

    Being an accounting consultant can come with a lot of perks – flexible hours, tax benefits and better money. There are, however, certain pieces of the puzzle that must be in place for you to experience success in the land of self-employment. Here are some tips for becoming an accounting consultant.

    Step 1: Be Certain
    First and foremost be certain that the world of self-employment is truly a fit for your personality and skill set. Connect with other consultants and ask what challenges they face. Know that you’re leaving a well-defined role for a more ambiguous environment. Accept that people are “purchasing” your skills and that they will not be investing in you the same way they would in a permanent employee.

    Tip: Are you new to Canada? Read this blog for tips on becoming an accounting contractor.

    Step 2: Define What Makes You Marketable
    Let’s say you’ve been a Director of FP&A for the last 5 years. You’ve become a budgeting and forecasting guru. This skill set is what makes you marketable. It’s what you’ll be hired for. That being said, there are other ways to generate value for your prospective employer. Understand their wish list. Position yourself not simply as a functionary, but as a true consultant who can deliver on what the company needs, and what they want.

    Step 3: Network
    Contract roles have a defined start and end date. This means you will be responsible for sourcing your next opportunity. The key to securing a steady stream of roles is to network as much as possible.

    • Meet with as many accounting and finance recruiters as you can even when you’re employed – meet with recruiters that specialize in both permanent and contract positions
    • Reach out to people with whom you did your designation
    • Connect with former colleagues, or with people that worked for your competition
    • View each meeting as a chance to build your professional brand and uncover opportunities – but remember, focus on the other person and deepening the relationship
    • Focus on your industry
    • Go to coffee with your closest colleague first and don’t leave until you have an introduction to another contact

    Read: “How to Network in the Right Way: Eight Tips” to learn how to build genuine relationships that naturally result in opportunity.

    Key Takeaways
    Becoming an accounting consultant does offer a number of benefits like flexible hours and more lucrative pay. It also brings with it specific challenges and is definitely not suitable to a personality that prefers predictable routine. Be sure that the world of consulting makes sense for who you are. Understand what makes you marketable and that employers are hiring you for that specific skill set. Know that you will be responsible for sourcing every job and so ensure that you network consistently.

    Your Next Step
    No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

    Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

    If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan, not the goal.

    How to become an accounting consultant

    Many people who work as accountants are employed by accounting firms in birmingham or work in a home office. However, there is a growing segment that offers their services as an accounting consultant , helping individuals and companies to improve their finances. They may restructure their reporting, analyze financial data, and ensure the company conforms to regulations. This is a great career choice and anyone who has an accounting degree can pursue this area by using these methods.

    Get a Degree in Accounting

    Of course, before you can start working as an accounting consultant, you’ll have to graduate from an accounting program. There are numerous ones available that you can attend, either in person or online. For example, UAB online or the University of Alabama-Birmingham Online has an accounting program that offers this degree. This is a great option for adults who may need to earn their degree in their free time or simply want the flexibility of an online schedule. Many people in this field will also take classes in business administration, as this coursework can help you work for yourself.

    Get Licensed as a CPA

    Depending on the area where you live, you’ll have to become licensed by taking an exam. Each state has a board of accountancy that will have the requirements listed to take the exam. Some states may require that you show proof you are a resident of the state. Other states may let you get by with fewer credit hours if you have had some experience working in this field. When you fill the eligibility requirements, study and take the test. After you’ve passed the test, you can be licensed by the state. Licensing requirements also vary for each state so check the requirements before moving forward.

    Open an Office

    After you’ve gone through the steps above, you can open your own office. It’s often best to open a home office, which will be a good way to save money. You’ll be able to work as needed and you won’t have to commute, which most people enjoy. When you open the office, decide on your fees, and keep in mind that they’ll need to be low initially. Check the fees in your area to set the range and set yours on the lower end. You can always increase them later.

    Network and Advertise

    When you’re ready to take on clients, network with other professionals and start to spread word-of-mouth that you are working as an accounting consultant. You can advertise in your area as well, and it’s always a good idea to have a website to attract clients. Try to build on relationships that you already have and be willing to take on even small jobs to build up your client list.

    Conclusion

    Now that you’ve gone through the steps above, you’re ready to start working as an accounting consultant. It may take some time to have a booming business, so be prepared for initial lean times. However, with some patience, you’ll likely be able to have a busy career and work on a regular basis.

    How to become an accounting consultant

    Have you ever wondered how to be a consultant? What does a consultant do? Well, the answer is simple – a consultant consults. The answer, though true in its basic sense, is much too vague. If you want to become a self-employed consultant, you need to have a better idea about the business and the way to set it up. Let’s try to define the role of a consultant.

    The task of a consultant is to provide advice to an individual or organization about matters in a specific niche. Still sounds vague; right? You need to dig a little deeper into the area before you plunge in to establish your business as a consultant.

    Below is a step-by-step guide to help you start off as a self-employed consultant.

    How To Be a Consultant: 10 Steps to Self Employment

    Step 1: Identify the Niche in Which You Have Knowledge and Experience

    You may have an interest in computers. However, this does not mean you can become an independent computer consultant (though it can give you a head-start in this field). Knowledge and experience coupled with interest is the only way to begin.

    If you have knowledge about computers (hardware or software), have worked with these for a considerable period of time and have the latest detailed, information about them, you can plan to start a computer consulting business.

    Step 2: Acquire the Certifications and Licenses

    Some consulting businesses do not require formal training and certifications (e.g., gardening consulting). However, if you are planning to work as an accounting consultant, you need to get professional certifications from recognized accounting institutions.

    Also, consider the licensing requirements to start a consulting business. The local or state legal guidelines may require you to get a particular license to work as an independent consultant in certain specialties.

    Step 3: Decide Your Short and Long Term Goals

    If you excel in a niche that has a good prospect, such as business consulting, computer consulting, career consulting and so on, you may paint a rosy picture of clients waiting for your advice within a week of starting your consulting business.

    It’s not magic. If you have such unrealistic expectations, you are sure to be disappointed. Every business takes time to grow and become known and established. If you lack the time and effort to start and establish a business, you may end up headed towards failure.

    Step 4: Choose Your Target Market

    If no one pays for your ideas and advice, your business will face failure. It will also face the same result if the recipients of your ideas do not have the money to pay you. The first thing you need to do is to decide whether you will advise individuals or companies.

    Every niche in the consulting business provides these options. For example, if you are working as a career consultant, you may help individuals plan their careers. You may also work with a large corporation to help the employees excel in their chosen fields.

    Step 5: Research Your Target Market

    Individuals and organizations need consultants for a number of reasons. A tax consultant can help a millionaire plan his/her taxes. A computer consultant can help the employees of a large company learn software basics. A human resource consultant can help a big business implement a change in a policy.

    After you determine the target market that will hire you for your expertise, you need to find out the various ways in which you may help them. This will help you market your consulting business. You need to tell your clients why they need you.

    Step 6: Consider a Home Office

    If your local laws permit this, it can work to your advantage in more ways than one. You don’t spend any money to buy or rent an office space to start your business as a self-employed consultant. You don’t need to pay for utilities separately. You don’t need to pay for a regular commute.

    Along with the money, you also save time and energy when you work out of your home. You may acquire new premises after you have established your business and employed associates; but more on this later.

    Step 7: Build Your Network

    If no one knows you and you know no one in your field, you may find yourself in the midst of a disaster soon. It is important to start building your network as soon as you have decided to be a consultant. A strong contact base ensures that you have the sources to find work.

    A professional network, coupled with a social network, can help you market and advertise your business. References are also important ways to find work in the niche. Rely on your initial contact base to build your network.

    Step 8: Fix Your Fees and the Way to Bill Clients

    As a beginner, you may not receive high fees as a consultant. Your charges increase as you become known as a consultant. Keep in mind your credentials and experience as well as market conditions, your target group and your competitors when you fix your fees.

    Also, decide how you will bill clients. Hourly billing may seem to be a convenient method; the problem is many clients think that you charge too much for your time. It is best to use the project-based billing method when you start your consulting business.

    Step 9: Arrange for Advertising and Marketing

    You are not selling a house which, by the way, is much easier than selling your advice. Many of your clients may not be even aware that they need your ideas and advice. How do you market and advertise something so difficult? Believe it or not, you have a lot of choices – print media, cold-calls, online ads and many others.

    Before you choose any avenue to advertise, decide your budget. If the costs go out of hand, the chance of success of your business plummets. Newsletters and brochures, advertisements in niche-specific journals, websites and blogs offer the best options.

    Step 10:Determine Whether You Need to Outsource Certain Tasks

    You may find it easier to handle all tasks of your business on your own when you start. But after your consulting business is up and running, you may need the help of others and you may decide to employ people. Check both legal and tax details before you do this.

    You may also outsource some tasks that do not require your immediate attention. Make sure that the tasks are not connected to your consulting business. For example, you can outsource auditing for a career consulting business but not when it is your niche.