The first distinction you have to make when deciding on an appropriate learning path would be the difference between an accountancy course and a bookkeeping course. Many people will briefly answer: the difference between bookkeeping and accountancy is 2 to 3 years of studying. While an accountancy course usually takes longer than a bookkeeping course there is so much more to what separates the two skill sets.
Bookkeeping deals with systematic record keeping of revenue and expense transactions and require little to no creativity. It also offers lower financial rewards in the long term. Accountancy deals with the "big picture" aspects of business and organisation financials. It would include aspects of bookkeeping such as preparing statements and recording transactions but would also involve creating cost projections, identifying financial inefficiencies, merger and acquisition technologies, tax strategies and staff benefit management.
While a basic accountancy course does not differ much from region to region there are an increasing range of additional skills that come in handy depending on your career context. Many Accountants work in 3 broad areas: Management Accounting, Forensic Accounting/Auditing, and Financial/Tax Services.
This area of accounting brings together business operations management and accountancy skills. Accountancy management roles tend to require less work hours per week than the other two broad areas discussed and the role involves less "number crunching". Such an individual must be a great at working with all the departments within the company as well as networking with both suppliers and clients. Additional skills such as import/export training, corporate law or payroll /HR related administration qualifications can be beneficial ways to differentiate yourself from other applicants.
Because auditing focuses on compliance and the integrity of financial systems it requires very little creativity. Auditing attracts efficient people with an eye for details and the ability to follow procedures. If you consider working for a firm you might be called on to travel to various clients to provide auditing services.
This can range from normal accounting services all the way to financial strategy management. Many accountants benefit from experience in a particular industry or from supplementary accountancy courses that will allow them to specialise further. Being up to date with the latest software and technologies are invaluable - as are great sales skills and strong analytical ability.
Will an Accountancy Course Benefit You?
If any of the above personality traits or tasks appeal to you then you may wish to look further into studying accountancy. Despite the common misconceptions Accountancy is very team orientated and often required you to work well in a group environment towards a common goal.
For individuals that perform well in their accountancy courses and are technologically savvy there are plenty of starting opportunities as well as higher than usual starting salary ranges compared to other industries. Regardless of economical climate, tax, auditing, accountancy and financial acumen remain core skills for many businesses and organisations in the private and public sectors. Financial scandals in particular have also helped to increase the field.
Many successful graduates of accountancy courses may take on internships while studying or join one of the many public accounting firms in entry level jobs to gain the necessary experience for a long and rewarding career. Speak to as many colleges and institutes as you can to help you decide on the appropriate course and education delivery method for you.