The accounting industry is one of the fastest-growing career industries in Australia and a vital part of every business organisation.
It involves overseeing business financial operations, sourcing profitable business opportunities, and assessing and managing financial risk aside from many other functions.
This is why it’s one of the most lucrative careers in the corporate world.
If you’re considering a career path in Accounting, you’re on the right track.
In this blog, we’ll be guiding you through the steps on how to become an Accountant in Australia.
Overview of the Accounting Industry
The need for Accountants in a world of complex financial policies, great financial regulations and scrutiny can’t be overemphasised.
They’re often considered an important backbone of every organisation, whether private business, Government agency or Multilateral Corporation.
This ranks the profession as one of the highest-paying careers in Australia.
An accountant is a professional who helps businesses and individuals track their financial health. They work with numbers and financial reports to help their clients make informed decisions about their money.
They usually involve in preparing taxes, managing financial records and various financial aspects of the business.
Apart from financial management, accountants are usually involved in the strategic planning of the business.
Size of the industry
The consistent increase in the demand for Accounting professionals has been exceptional. There are job listing vacancies of up to 34% year-on-year basis and projected growth of 9.2% even up to 2026.
This is a large occupation with over 200,000 professionals in different high-demand specialties like Forensic Accounting, Taxation, Auditing, Financial Management, I.T. accounting and many more.
About 79% of Accountants live in capital cities where most of the top Accounting firms in Australia are concentrated. The city locations include:
- Gold Coast
- New Castle.
This is why it’s important to consider your potential career path when selecting a city to study.
Click here to find out how to choose a city to study in Australia.
Industries where accountants are needed
Accounting is an important profession needed by every industry that deals with money.
Here are sample accounting specialisations needed by different industries in Australia.
A Financial Accountant works as a record keeper, whose key responsibility is to accurately prepare an organisation’s financial accounts for a specific period and advise the management on profitable investment practices and strategies to undertake.
Top employing industries for financial accountants in Australia include:
- Accounting and Payroll services
- Management of Companies
- Real estate
- Professional, scientific and technical services
- Public administration and safety
These accountants specialise in financial investigation. They often work in these industries:
- Insurance Companies
- Financial Institutions
- Law Enforcement Agencies
Managerial Accountants are essential for the progress of any firm. They present a financial data study that helps managers make financial-based decisions. They often work in the following industries:
- Professional, scientific and technical services
- Financial and insurance services
- Public administration and safety
Certified public accountants can work in any industry that needs the following services:
- Transaction Advisory
- Financial Consultation
- Auditing Financial and insurance services
- Financial and insurance services
Hours of work
In Australia, around 80% of people employed as Accountants work full-time hours.
Full-time Accountants work an average of 43 hours per week in their primary job.
This is similar to the average working hours for all jobs in Australia (44 hours per week).
The average age required to work as an Accountant in Australia is 34 years, with over 34% of the Accountants within the age bracket of (25-34) years.
In Australia, there are over 200,000 accountants, with approximately 52% female and 48% male. This equates to approximately 104,000 females and 96,000 males.
What are some of the skills required to become an accountant in Australia?
Some skills needed to become an accountant include
- Critical thinking
- Software Skills like Microsoft Excel, MYOB, XERO
- Knowledge of Accounting Tools and softwares
- Judgement and decision-making
- Operations analysis
- Time management
- Management of personnel resources
- Motivating, Developing and Supervising
- Communication skills
What are the tasks and duties of an accountant in Australia?
Some tasks and duties that accountants are expected to perform include:
- Formulating budgetary and accounting policies.
- Computing taxes, preparing tax returns and providing financial and taxation advice on business structures, plans and operations.
- Appraisal of money flow and financial risk of capital investment projects.
- Assuring the accuracy of data contained in financial reports and their compliance with statutory requirements.
- Preparing financial statements
- Conducting financial investigations, preparing reports, undertaking audits and advising on matters like the purchase and sale of businesses, mergers, capital financing, suspected fraud, insolvency and taxation.
- Audit financial transactions and documents.
- Comply with financial policies and regulations.
How much do accountants earn in Australia?
Accountants’ salaries differ depending on their level of education, skill, experience, qualifications as well as the requirements of the job.
On average, full-time workers on an adult wage can expect to earn around $1,756 per week in Australia.
The average hourly rate for accountants is $47 which is higher than the average hourly rate of $41 per hour for all other jobs.
Steps: How to become an accountant in Australia.
In order to become an accountant in Australia, the minimum qualification required is Diploma of Accounting. Although, most of the professionals working as an accountant in Australia have a degree in accounting or related fields of study.
There are necessary steps that should be taken by students considering a future career path in Accounting.
Step 1: Undertake a vocational course (optional)
To kick off your career in accounting, you can take a range of courses from Certificate to Diploma to Degree programs.
Especially, students who are not yet prepared to undertake a degree in accounting or would like to build their knowledge of the industry first, can start doing vocational programs in accounting.
Some of the popular accounting programs in vocational education include:
- Certificate III in accounting
- Certificate IV in accounting
- Certificate IV in bookkeeping
- Diploma in accounting
These course can help build the foundation of the accounting rules & regulations and can give practical skills to start working as a bookkeeper or other support roles in accounting industry.
But if you are keen to build your career in accounting, then you will have to consider undertaking a degree program.
Also, if you want to get entry into any of the Australian accounting bodies i.e. CPA, CAANZ and IPA, you must have completed at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or related field.
If you are confident enough and have basic accounting knowledge, then you can skip this step and move to step 2.
Step 2: Undertake a degree program
Australian institutions offer a variety of degree programs where you can choose to major in Accounting.
It is recommended to have at least one of the following qualifications in order to build your career in accounting industry:
Bachelor’s degree in Accounting
After completion of your Year 12 education, you can undertake a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting.
This is usually undertaken for 3 years of full-time study.
The average cost of getting a bachelor’s degree in accounting ranges from $20,000 to $40,000 per year depending on the university.
Some universities offer discounted scholarships to international students.
Master’s in Accounting
Alternatively, you can complete a Master’s in Accounting degree, which usually runs for 2 years of full-time study.
This option is open to those who previously completed a bachelor’s degree in a different field of study and are seeking a different career path.
The average cost of getting a Master’s degree in accounting ranges from $25,000 to $40,000 per year depending on the university.
Step 3: Get accreditation with Accounting Bodies
You need a formal or certifiable qualification in Accounting or Business to work on a corporate level.
Once you complete your degree program, you can then apply for membership with any of the Top 3 accounting bodies in Australia.
Most students who are serious about their career in the accounting field, will apply for an accreditation program with any of the accounting bodies after completing their degree.
Once accepted into the accreditation program, students will have to complete further studies with their chosen body to get their accreditation.
The professional accreditation can be obtained from any of Australia’s Top 3 Accounting bodies:
- Certified Practicing Accountants Australia (CPAA)
- Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ)
- Institute of Public Accountants (IPA)
Certified Practicing Accountants Australia (CPAA)
The CPA program trains accountants thoroughly in the knowledge and practice of accounting. It is a globally recognised qualification and a sign of high professional competence.
Before you can be recognised with a CPA designation, it is required that:
- you must complete a degree or postgraduate in any CPA-accredited university
- apply to become a member of CPA
- complete the CPA program and
- have 3 years of professional experience in finance, business or accounting.
The average cost of completing this 2-year CPA program is $1,500.
Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ)
The CA program trains accountants by combining rigorous education with practical experience.
Here are quick steps to become a chartered accountant in Australia:
- complete at least bachelor’s degree
- apply for provisional membership
- Enrol and complete CA program
- Complete 3 year mentored program
- apply for full membership
It takes a minimum of three years (or part-time equivalent) to complete this program and become a member.
Click here to check out the CA program fees.
Institute of Public Accountants (IPA)
IPA is one of Australia’s oldest and highly recognised professional accounting bodies. This institute represents thousands of accounting professionals, students, industry bodies and governments.
Being a member of this institution is beneficial to the start of your career in accounting.
It takes 3 years to be a member of the IPA. Click here to check out the IPA membership subscription rates.
What are the popular universities to study accounting in Australia?
Here are some of the popular universities to study accounting in Australia:
- University of New South Wales
- University of Melbourne
- University of Sydney
- Monash University
- The Australian National University
- The University of Queensland
- Macquarie University
- The University of Adelaide
- The University of Western Australia
- University of Technology Sydney
Future growth of accounting career in Australia
The need for Accountants has skyrocketed, making it a profession of high demand in Australia. It’s no news that the evolution of IT has swept through all industries, and not only has this increased the demand for “new generation” Accountants but again diversified the market into many more segments.
A survey by recruitment firm, Hays, has found that Financial Accounting, Budgeting and Data Analytics roles became the top three priority positions that employers looked for during COVID-19. Still, there’s a need for specialty. You have to choose a path in the industry you want to focus on and become exceptional there.
Experience, Skill and Qualifications won’t just upgrade your status but push you up the corporate ladder, fast!
Our best advice to students who wish to pursue a career in the accounting industry is to value learning (soft skills) and always be up-to-date with accounting systems and industry trends.
And this is everything you need to know about how to become an Accountant in Australia.