Starting a career in accounting is a personal choice. After you have completed your degree, you may be uncertain about the career path to choose. This period can truly be unsettling.

If you decide to become an accountant, you should be aware of certain things.

Firstly, you will be joining a workforce of over 200,00 people in Nigeria. It is still quite a rare profession. With newer businesses sprouting up, the need for accountants is constantly increasing.

Secondly, remember that accountants are needed everywhere. Ignore the rumours about only being useful at government agencies or private sectors. All fields in the world need finance professionals.

Thirdly, your membership with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is better than a passport. When you have this membership, you can work anywhere in the world.

Furthermore, forget the notion that all accountants are maths genius. A while back, the idea may have been a reality. However, technological advancements have made accounting easier. For instance, the accounting software is available to help with number crunching. Newer automation and software will give you more time to consult and advise your client as opposed to eradicating your job.

As an accountant, your job is always secure. Even during recession periods, accountants are constantly in demand.

If you're still unsure about accounting and finance, here are some tips that will help you make the proper decision and usher you into a successful accounting career.

Successful Nigerian Accountant
The accounting profession is needed in every field in the world. Source: Unsplash

The Qualifications You Need To Become An Accountant

There are several ways of becoming an accountant. A lot of these ways do not require a University or a Polytechnic degree.

While accounting programs vary, the minimum qualification you will need is the AAT or the Association of Accounting Technicians courses. It is the most common amongst Secondary School Certificate holders. Taking the AAT courses will not only boost your cv but will also equip you with the fundamental accounting principles you need to operate in the business world.

However, to become a chartered accountant, you need to take one of the professional qualifications in Nigeria.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Nigeria or ICAN is one of the most respected professional accounting institutes in Nigeria. ICAN offers two types of exams which is the Professional and the Accounting Technician Scheme (ATS). If you do not have a university or polytechnic degree, you can take the ATS courses. After a year, you will likely qualify to take the Professional courses.

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is a great certification. Getting this accounting degree gives you an edge globally. Technically, you can get jobs anywhere in the world. People who qualify for the ACCA institutes are ICAN ACCA graduates and University or Polytechnic graduates.

If you don't fall under these categories, you will need to go through the Foundations in Accountancy courses. They are three exams that will help you qualify for the ACCA certification.

The ANAN or Association of National Accountants of Nigeria is another qualification to consider. You will undergo a three-year professional training before you get the Certified National Accountant (CNA) qualification. To qualify, you are to attend the National College of Accountancy in Jos for a year.

The CIMA or Chartered Institute of Management Accountants is another global qualification. Getting this certification gives you a higher chance of attaining a senior position in a company. The institute offers a variety of qualifications that revolve around Business Skills, People Skills, Leadership Skills, and Technical Skills.

Keep in mind that not all certifications need a higher education degree. All you need is the dedication to begin the accounting career path.

Training To Become An Accountant In Nigeria

Your duration for training depends on what accountancy field you have chosen.

The Association of Accounting Technicians is often an 18month training. The categories for this training are 4, with each having its duration. Often, you get this qualification in a minimum of one year and a maximum of three years. Having this qualification means you have the basic accounting principles needed to start an accountancy career path.

If you're interested in professional courses, the ICAN, ACCA, CIMA, and ANAN can provide you with that. Just as stated earlier, the period of years required for training varies. For ICAN, you need at least a year and a half to get your certification. The CIMA institute requires you to train for four years before getting your qualification. The ANAN accounting degree program takes three years to complete the professional training while ACCA expects that you finish all its fourteen exams in ten years.

People who already have a graduate degree or have completed their AAT courses will be exempted from some ACCA exams; saving them a couple of years and giving them a faster advancement.

Accounting qualifications
To be a successful accountant, you need to take professional accounting courses. Source: Unsplash

What Is The Average Salary To Expect As An Accountant In Nigeria?

Your average salary as an accountant depends on your age, gender, location, company size and level of qualification. Entry-level positions will earn you a lot less than a professional accountant with enough working experience.

In comparison to the national minimum salary, however, an accountant earns higher. An employee who doesn't have an accounting degree earns an average of ₦50,000 per month. On average, your earnings per month is ₦125,000 to ₦500,000. Regardless of the accounting positions (entry-level accounting to certified management accountant), your salary will only keep increasing.

With your accounting education, you can serve as a consultant. That is, in the case where you would rather be self-employed. Technically, because your expertise is needed everywhere, you can get away from being broke faster than other professions.

Working in the public sector also earns you a lot higher than in a private organization. For a professional accountant who has done his homework, he/she is sure to make up to six figures per month.

Accountant Salary
Your payroll as an accountant increases with experience and professional qualifications. Source: Unsplash

Working As An Accountant In Nigeria

Where can you work as an accountant in Nigeria? You can work everywhere. From mini-shops to startups, financial institutions, to private and public sectors. Accountants are needed all around the world.

Consider this: Unless there is a world devoid of finances, then there will be no need for an accountant. Since this is not in view, your role as an internal auditor, tax consultant, certified public accountant, amongst others will always be needed.

If you have considered working in a private sector in Nigeria, one of the most respected is the big four. They are KPMG, Ernst & Young, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Not only would it boost your work experience, but it will also increase your network of people.

Other places are banks and financial institutions. You can work as a Bank manager or a Financial Analyst.

In the public sector, the range of accounting roles is many. Taxation, financial reporting, and financial records all need to be handled by an accountant.

At startups and small businesses, your professionalism will change their financial outlook. So, you don't have to worry about restrictions on your career path. Interestingly, the only thing that might restrict you is your level of qualification, work experience, locations, and gender.

Nowadays, a lot of accounting firms make their money through consulting. Unlike before, accountants no longer have huge specialization in bookkeeping. Technological advancements like accounting software, automation, and other AI have made that easier.

However, when it comes to analyzing reports and predicting a company's financial efficiency, it is the job of a professional accountant.

Services like taxation, auditing, forecasting, payroll reporting, and financial reports are what modern accounting firms provide their clients. Just as each field of accounting has its specialization, accounting firms have their niche.

So, you can choose to specialize in forensic accounting. Your role is to examine business financial records and statistics and make sure no fraud has been committed. It means you're up-to-date with government regulations. That's why you will more likely work for law enforcement or government agencies as a forensic accountant.

One other interesting careers in accounting are corporate accounting and internal auditing. For corporate accounting, you will be needing the right accounting degrees. This way, you can easily be in charge of the company's financial accounts and cash flow statements. You will also be handling the interpretation and analysis of your organization's financial reports.

For accountants who have a very analytical mind, consider becoming a certified internal auditor. Your responsibility would be to control the company's management, review its global risks, and improve its financial authenticity. You're to ensure staff and your superiors adhere to regulations and manage the company's overall effectiveness.

Being an accountant in Nigeria requires a lot of dedication. Your first step to becoming a successful accountant is to go for accounting degree programs. Choose accounting courses that best suit you and work your way up from there.

Indeed, there will be a lot of hassles in your way, especially during your learning stages. In that case, you can check out our Accounting tutors. They are great at breaking down the principles of accounting and helping you achieve your dream.

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