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Anyone changed career from Accounting?

Ok I know this is a student forum, but I've been an accountant pretty much my whole working life. It has never been something that I've been passionate about and I always wonder if the grass is greener in a different career.

Has anyone ever made a career change from Accounting to something else? What are you doing now? What were the steps you took to make a change?

I will probably wait until I'm fully qualified but at the moment I just can't see a way out!

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Reply 1
Original post by Philip-flop
Ok I know this is a student forum, but I've been an accountant pretty much my whole working life. It has never been something that I've been passionate about and I always wonder if the grass is greener in a different career.

Has anyone ever made a career change from Accounting to something else? What are you doing now? What were the steps you took to make a change?

I will probably wait until I'm fully qualified but at the moment I just can't see a way out!


How old are you?
Original post by ajj2000
How old are you?

26. Why?
Reply 3
There is a bit of difference changing career at 26 from say 56 - different opportunities and different opportunity costs.

There are loads of ways out. What do you fancy doing? Are you working in the profession at the moment or in industry? How far from qualification and what were your previous qualifications?
Original post by ajj2000
There is a bit of difference changing career at 26 from say 56 - different opportunities and different opportunity costs.

There are loads of ways out. What do you fancy doing? Are you working in the profession at the moment or in industry? How far from qualification and what were your previous qualifications?

Are you 56 then?

I work in practice. But have considered industry a few times.
Reply 5
Original post by Philip-flop
Are you 56 then?

I work in practice. But have considered industry a few times.

Not quite yet!

I'd head to industry if you don't like what you do. Its worth giving it a couple of years and then thinking of a new career if you think of something else. Industry can be very different to working in the profession and you might see lateral type moves which could appeal.
Original post by ajj2000
Not quite yet!

I'd head to industry if you don't like what you do. Its worth giving it a couple of years and then thinking of a new career if you think of something else. Industry can be very different to working in the profession and you might see lateral type moves which could appeal.

Have you worked in both practice and industry then?

Are you still in accounting? Or have you ventured out to doing something else? If so, what is it you do now?

I have a fear of just being an accountant my whole life without any sense of fulfillment!
Reply 7
Original post by Philip-flop
Have you worked in both practice and industry then?

Are you still in accounting? Or have you ventured out to doing something else? If so, what is it you do now?

I have a fear of just being an accountant my whole life without any sense of fulfillment!

I started as a grad trainee doing audit in a big 4 firm then moved to industry. I've mainly worked in accounting jobs - short periods as a commercial manager. I'm not a fan of accounting firms but lots of people seem to enjoy working in them.

I've seen plenty of people move into different types of work - I suspect its easier when you are younger and lower paid.
Original post by ajj2000
I started as a grad trainee doing audit in a big 4 firm then moved to industry. I've mainly worked in accounting jobs - short periods as a commercial manager. I'm not a fan of accounting firms but lots of people seem to enjoy working in them.

I've seen plenty of people move into different types of work - I suspect its easier when you are younger and lower paid.

That's amazing! So you're working in industry still now?

My fear is that even after I've finished my exams and/or decide to move to industry I'll still have that sense of being unfulfilled. It seems to me that practice jobs means high stress and little pay (in comparison to industry anyway) but a lot of industry jobs are less stress, more pay, but can get very repetitive and boring.

At the moment I have a love-hate relationship with tax and working in practice. I like the theory behind tax but I hate the grunt work when applying it to client's incomplete/inconsistent records.

How old did you say you were?
20+ years as an accountant.
Was in practice and then qualified and moved into industry. I have actually worked in sane industry for most of that time which is my favourite hobby out of work. So that makes things more fun.
And now I am at university doing a law degree. I may move into law or stay in accounting or maybe company secretary.
I just fancied a break for a bit (and can afford to do so)
Plenty of people do other stuff, maybe exam teaching or more just management stuff rather than accounting roles. Get into an industry you like and see what roles appeal.
Original post by Philip-flop
That's amazing! So you're working in industry still now?

My fear is that even after I've finished my exams and/or decide to move to industry I'll still have that sense of being unfulfilled. It seems to me that practice jobs means high stress and little pay (in comparison to industry anyway) but a lot of industry jobs are less stress, more pay, but can get very repetitive and boring.

At the moment I have a love-hate relationship with tax and working in practice. I like the theory behind tax but I hate the grunt work when applying it to client's incomplete/inconsistent records.

How old did you say you were?

Late 40s. I’d guess you work for a reasonably small firm if you are dealing with incomplete records?

If you are concerned about not finding work meaningful I’d suggest thinking about whether a change of environment might solve it ( for example working in a firm with larger clients, moving to industry, taking another business related job).

If it’s more fundamental - the wish to work with your hands? To do something with a more immediate impact on people? - it’s worth looking into alternatives.
Original post by Catherine1973
20+ years as an accountant.
Was in practice and then qualified and moved into industry. I have actually worked in sane industry for most of that time which is my favourite hobby out of work. So that makes things more fun.
And now I am at university doing a law degree. I may move into law or stay in accounting or maybe company secretary.
I just fancied a break for a bit (and can afford to do so)
Plenty of people do other stuff, maybe exam teaching or more just management stuff rather than accounting roles. Get into an industry you like and see what roles appeal.


That's very impressive that you decided to go back into education and study a degree at university! Did you have to pass any further qualifications to be accepted?

Also, do you have any other responsibilities? Family? Mortgage? How do you juggle those commitments on top of your studies?
Original post by ajj2000
Late 40s. I’d guess you work for a reasonably small firm if you are dealing with incomplete records?

If you are concerned about not finding work meaningful I’d suggest thinking about whether a change of environment might solve it ( for example working in a firm with larger clients, moving to industry, taking another business related job).

If it’s more fundamental - the wish to work with your hands? To do something with a more immediate impact on people? - it’s worth looking into alternatives.

I guess my problem is that I'm someone who strives for appraisals. No I don't mean in terms of money, but I genuinely gain happiness from helping other people. Obviously that's not quite the same when you're just helping people with their tax returns or accounts. I like helping people where it has a personal impact on their life even if they're thankful or not. It is the thought of knowing that you have changed their life for better that makes it all worth it.

Also, I like having something to show for when I have finished something. Builders and architectures (not saying that I want to be either of those) have an end product to which they can look back at and see how something has been developed through their own work. Sure, the end result of finishing a set of accounts is good but I feel like it has very little meaning to myself and that there is no satisfaction. The only satisfaction I get is when I'm thankful I don't have to deal with a certain client for another year. I can't explain the feeling behind it, but I just feel like I'm floating in limbo and not using myself to my full potential, almost like I'm wasting my time. Sure the exams are very difficult, and I will be happy once I've qualified but I think the same feeling I'm experiencing now will still linger over me for years to come.
Anyone else realised that accounting wasn't for them and changed career?
Original post by Philip-flop
I guess my problem is that I'm someone who strives for appraisals. No I don't mean in terms of money, but I genuinely gain happiness from helping other people. Obviously that's not quite the same when you're just helping people with their tax returns or accounts. I like helping people where it has a personal impact on their life even if they're thankful or not. It is the thought of knowing that you have changed their life for better that makes it all worth it.

Also, I like having something to show for when I have finished something. Builders and architectures (not saying that I want to be either of those) have an end product to which they can look back at and see how something has been developed through their own work. Sure, the end result of finishing a set of accounts is good but I feel like it has very little meaning to myself and that there is no satisfaction. The only satisfaction I get is when I'm thankful I don't have to deal with a certain client for another year. I can't explain the feeling behind it, but I just feel like I'm floating in limbo and not using myself to my full potential, almost like I'm wasting my time. Sure the exams are very difficult, and I will be happy once I've qualified but I think the same feeling I'm experiencing now will still linger over me for years to come.

^Does anyone else feel this way?
My situation isn't exactly the same as yours as I'm currently in a role that I do enjoy, I work in science but not in academia. The problem is that as we all know working in science isn't exactly the most rewarding in monetary terms so I have thought about changing careers. This, I felt I could relate to your situation as we are both thinking what it would be like in other careers.

I have had a look at finance and feel like I could earn much more working in that industry, but then as I am already enjoying my job so I always ask myself if it's worth it going into the unknown. Maybe if I didn't enjoy my job I would have a different mindset, but this still doesn't stop me from being money motivated. I feel like if I continue to work in science I will be "poor" my whole life. There's a lot of money in accounting, so you have to ask yourself if you change careers are you prepared to take what would most likely be a significant pay cut for better job satisfaction? I, for one, am still debating this problem as I'm not sure it's worth the trade off. I guess I can't complain too much as I still feel lucky that I have a decent job with a decent wage but in the back of my mind I always think I could earn more if I worked in finance.

I know someone from university that was an actuary, not the same thing I know but similar situation nevertheless, and he came back to study for a PhD to work in academia since he absolute hated actuary during the years he spent gaining the qualification. He had the mindset that once he qualifies it should be much better but he said it didn't get any better and he just knew accounting wasn't for him. He's now working in a university and has never looked back, albeit with a lot less money in comparison. That's not to say you should do what he did but I thought I'd give you his perspective too.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do!
Original post by EWSW104
My situation isn't exactly the same as yours as I'm currently in a role that I do enjoy, I work in science but not in academia. The problem is that as we all know working in science isn't exactly the most rewarding in monetary terms so I have thought about changing careers. This, I felt I could relate to your situation as we are both thinking what it would be like in other careers.

I have had a look at finance and feel like I could earn much more working in that industry, but then as I am already enjoying my job so I always ask myself if it's worth it going into the unknown. Maybe if I didn't enjoy my job I would have a different mindset, but this still doesn't stop me from being money motivated. I feel like if I continue to work in science I will be "poor" my whole life. There's a lot of money in accounting, so you have to ask yourself if you change careers are you prepared to take what would most likely be a significant pay cut for better job satisfaction? I, for one, am still debating this problem as I'm not sure it's worth the trade off. I guess I can't complain too much as I still feel lucky that I have a decent job with a decent wage but in the back of my mind I always think I could earn more if I worked in finance.

I know someone from university that was an actuary, not the same thing I know but similar situation nevertheless, and he came back to study for a PhD to work in academia since he absolute hated actuary during the years he spent gaining the qualification. He had the mindset that once he qualifies it should be much better but he said it didn't get any better and he just knew accounting wasn't for him. He's now working in a university and has never looked back, albeit with a lot less money in comparison. That's not to say you should do what he did but I thought I'd give you his perspective too.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

Thank you so much for your reply! Career changes are a difficult thing to decide no matter what situation you're in. I've always stuck with accounting purely for the stability (both money and amount of jobs). My problem is, that's the only reason why I'm in it, for the money. But I'm always hit with the realisation that "Do I want to spend my life doing something I have never been passionate about and hate to the point where it will have a negative impact on my own health?". I also believe that as you get older the more responsibilities you will have (e.g. Kids and mortgage etc) which will make it much more difficult to even consider a career change. I have dreams of doing a health care related degree but I would have to do an Access course - in order to do that I would have to quit my full time job which I just can't afford to do because of bills. I could get a part time job but that still won't be enough unless I leave my partner and downsize to shared accommodation. At the same time though I kind of want to finish my ACCA so that I have something to fall back on if everything else fails.

But, like your friend. I can see that even upon qualifying I will still dislike my career and will carry on grinding through the weeks. I guess not everyone likes their job/career so why should I be fussy? I just don't want to live life wondering if I could have been happier doing something else.

What's your plan with everything?
Just as a query - did you go to university and what did you study there?
Original post by Philip-flop
Thank you so much for your reply! Career changes are a difficult thing to decide no matter what situation you're in. I've always stuck with accounting purely for the stability (both money and amount of jobs). My problem is, that's the only reason why I'm in it, for the money. But I'm always hit with the realisation that "Do I want to spend my life doing something I have never been passionate about and hate to the point where it will have a negative impact on my own health?". I also believe that as you get older the more responsibilities you will have (e.g. Kids and mortgage etc) which will make it much more difficult to even consider a career change. I have dreams of doing a health care related degree but I would have to do an Access course - in order to do that I would have to quit my full time job which I just can't afford to do because of bills. I could get a part time job but that still won't be enough unless I leave my partner and downsize to shared accommodation. At the same time though I kind of want to finish my ACCA so that I have something to fall back on if everything else fails.

But, like your friend. I can see that even upon qualifying I will still dislike my career and will carry on grinding through the weeks. I guess not everyone likes their job/career so why should I be fussy? I just don't want to live life wondering if I could have been happier doing something else.

What's your plan with everything?

Career changes are indeed a difficult thing to do. Especially, as you say, once you have more responsibilities such as kids it's not just your livelihood at risk but your whole family's. If you really hate the job then sooner or later you will burn out as you get older as well. How many years do you have left until you qualify? I agree that you should definitely finish the qualification first and see where to go from there.

That's true that not everyone likes their job so we can't be too fussy and need to compromise a bit, even in your dream job there will be bits you won't like. Your situation seems a bit more difficult than mine as you need to leave your partner and move into shared accommodation, whereas I'm still in shared accommodation so I'm free to move whenever I want, just the matter of if I want to move.

I currently plan on at least finishing my 2 year graduate scheme, and I have already finished my first year. I will then see once I fully settle into a position whether I'm happy with my job and the opportunities for progression. If not, then I may look to see if there are higher paying jobs in science elsewhere but I will also look into other sectors too, such as finance. We have plenty of other colleagues who have taken career breaks and moved into other sectors then come back to the company so I don't feel too constrained as the company has a track record of accepting their previous employees that have left.

Have much have you looked into changing your careers? Have you looked into potential universities and spoken openly to your partner about this? Maybe they're willing to support you a bit whilst studying for the qualification. If that's the case then maybe you could see what your local universities offer.
Original post by ajj2000
Just as a query - did you go to university and what did you study there?

I almost went to university to study accounting but realised I would still have to do charted accounting exams even after finishing uni so I decided to go straight into the world of work for experience and gain professional qualifications.

Original post by EWSW104
Career changes are indeed a difficult thing to do. Especially, as you say, once you have more responsibilities such as kids it's not just your livelihood at risk but your whole family's. If you really hate the job then sooner or later you will burn out as you get older as well. How many years do you have left until you qualify? I agree that you should definitely finish the qualification first and see where to go from there.

That's true that not everyone likes their job so we can't be too fussy and need to compromise a bit, even in your dream job there will be bits you won't like. Your situation seems a bit more difficult than mine as you need to leave your partner and move into shared accommodation, whereas I'm still in shared accommodation so I'm free to move whenever I want, just the matter of if I want to move.

I currently plan on at least finishing my 2 year graduate scheme, and I have already finished my first year. I will then see once I fully settle into a position whether I'm happy with my job and the opportunities for progression. If not, then I may look to see if there are higher paying jobs in science elsewhere but I will also look into other sectors too, such as finance. We have plenty of other colleagues who have taken career breaks and moved into other sectors then come back to the company so I don't feel too constrained as the company has a track record of accepting their previous employees that have left.

Have much have you looked into changing your careers? Have you looked into potential universities and spoken openly to your partner about this? Maybe they're willing to support you a bit whilst studying for the qualification. If that's the case then maybe you could see what your local universities offer.

Hi I haven't really spoken to my girlfriend about changing career but she does know how much I hate my current career. The thing is, our relationship is as good as it can possibly get, and I firmly believe she is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. I always think that it's too risky for me to pursue another career as I know she wouldn't want to stick around especially where she would like to start settling down properly (i.e get a house and maybe have kids within the next 5 years or so). Also, it's risky in the sense that, what if I do pursue a different career and it doesn't pan out to be what I expected. I would have thrown away a perfectly good relationship and wasted time and money retraining/studying when I should have just done what most people do and learn to be content with their job/career. Besides, there's tonnes of accountants who hate their career but just carry on with their lives and have learnt to be happy with what they have.

I haven't really spoken to universities that much. But have looked into potential health care courses etc and what Access courses I can take to get onto an undergraduate degree. But even doing that just seems like I'm fantasising and that I need to wake up to reality.

That's great that you have some sort of plan in place and have almost set yourself a time period. And if all fails, like you said, your current employer are more than likely to take you back on! The good thing about the position your in is that you don't dislike your current career, and that if you decide to go into the world of finance and realise that it's not worth the money you can always go back to the career you like. How old are you btw? You have a very mature mindset which is good!

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