Debunking the biggest accounting career myth

Unlike other business professions, there is no secret that accounting has suffered generalizations that have painted the profession in a boring, number crunching, sit-behind-your-desk-all-day kind of way.

Simple logic would help argue that similar portrayals could have been easily attributed to other business professions such as finance, for example. Finance, like accounting, shares its close relationship with numbers, the need for dedicated desk space — often with multiple monitors — and generally occupies the same departmental hierarchy in an organizational structure.

So why has accounting in particular been the target of less than favorable generalizations, where do they come from, and what’s really behind them?

One of the theories can be rooted in a study from the City University of Hong Kong that found that accountants tend to use jargon-heavy language that disinterests their audience. In fact, one article in the Telegraph, a U.K. based publication, uses the study as basis for its title “It’s official: scientists prove why accountants are boring.”

The study mentioned above also points out that while the exact language used in this profession can sound rather boring, working in accounting can open doors to a wide range of business careers. After all, a business cannot be successful if it isn’t profitable: The numbers really do matter.

Similar coverage can also be found in mainstream U.S. publications such as Forbes Magazine with article titles such as “Brutally Honest Accountants Confess to Being Boring.” However, a closer read of the piece reveals a quirky story of a California CPA firm that purposefully decided to play-up the perception in a funny yet bold “proud to be boring accountants” re-branding effort. What the firm found was that its audience was largely receptive to the new brand revealing that in the context of accounting, boring equated to trustworthiness and approachability.

As the idea of the boring accountant continues to garner appeal with catchy titles and funny tales, perhaps what was once a myth became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Over time, CPA firms and accountants alike may have accepted the notion that maybe their field was not particularly exciting; and as long as there were no apparent disadvantages to that perception, the stereotype was not necessarily a bad thing. Or in the case of the California based CPA firm, it was a good thing.

However, for students who may be considering accounting as a career option, it’s important to know that accounting can be as exciting as any other career if we simply eliminate the negative pretense. Accountants can be chief financial officers of Fortune 500 firms, successful entrepreneurs, financial investigators, international trade gurus, financial advisors and much more. Students interested in accounting careers can pursue a Bachelors in Business Administration Accounting at Limestone College. The accounting concentration prepares students for career opportunities in financial and banking institutions, government regulatory agencies, insurance companies, non-profit organizations among others.