When choosing a career path, it's important to weigh both the positive and the negative aspects before making a final decision. For example, while being an accountant has advantages such as being able to work from home and making decent wages, the profession also has some drawbacks. The hours can be really long, especially during the tax season, and you'll have to continually take classes for as long as you practice.
While some accountants may be able to enjoy a regular 40-hour workweek, others are required to work much longer hours. This is especially true for self-employed accountants who have many clients who rely on them, and for accountants in specialized fields. For example, tax accountants often need to work grueling hours during the tax season. In addition to the actual time it takes to balance the books, accountants will also need to schedule times to meet with clients, which may entail significant travel time.
Almost all states require certified public accountants, or CPAs, to meet annual continuing education requirements in order to maintain and renew their license. Continuing education is important to keep accountants abreast of new laws and regulations that affect their line of work. Depending on where the CPA lives, options available could include courses, seminars, workshops or even group study programs. The exact requirements will vary with each state, so it's important to check your state's laws to make sure you're in compliance.
Being an accountant can become stressful at times, as many are under tight deadlines. If you make a single mistake such as reporting an item as a debit versus a credit, or misreporting a particular figure, that mistake could throw the rest of the books off. Therefore, a lot is riding on the shoulders of the accountant so it's important to be meticulous in your work and show great attention to detail. Also, accountants can be held criminally liable for fraud if they are found to purposely alter the books.
An unfair disadvantage to being an accountant is the negative stereotype that some people have of the profession. Some view accountants as antisocial individuals who only like to figure out math problems and crunch numbers. Others view accountants as boring and unimaginative. To make matters worse, in recent years the public has been able to see the negative ripple effect that happens when accounting is done wrong. Consider the fallout of the Enron incident as an example.