If you want to become an accountant, there are a number of steps to take, some of which are dependent on what type of accountant you want to be. A certified public accountant (CPA), for example, can perform a wide range of accounting tasks, while people who are not certified may find their working environment restricted by law. You may also want to think about specializations within the accounting field, such as bookkeeping, tax preparation, or auditing, and you should find out what the individual requirements to work as an accountant in your region are. An accounting association is a good resource for that information.
If possible, lay the groundwork to become an accountant in high school by taking math courses and focusing on economics and accounting in electives as well. In some schools, students are offered the opportunity to take internship positions in the community; take advantage of this by working for an accountant or an accounting firm to see if you like the work environment and to get an idea of how the job feels.
In college, you will need to take accounting courses. As a general rule, a CPA must have a four year degree, while accountants without certification can get by with a two year degree. There are a lot of advantages to becoming a CPA, however; you will be able to work in a wider variety of fields, for example, and you can command a higher salary. You can increase your salary even further by pursuing a master's degree in accounting, typically with a focus on a specific area.
To become a CPA, you will need to take a certification exam. The exam tests your knowledge of the law and of basic mathematical concepts to ensure that you will be a competent accountant. When you become an accountant and pursue certification, you can ensure your clients that you are skilled and able to handle their accounting issues, and many people feel more comfortable working with certified accountants.
Once you become an accountant, you can choose to open your own accounting firm, or to work within a larger firm. Many accountants also choose to join professional associations to keep up with developments in the accounting field and to network with like-minded people. Although some people are under the impression that accountants are boring people with uninteresting lives, this field can actually be quite interesting and extremely varied; you can work anywhere from the Internal Revenue Service to a private office run out of your home as an accountant.