“Family and career are both important to me, so I've built that into how my firm works,” says Laura Concannon, 50, who has owned an accounting firm in Baltimore for three years. Anyone on her team can choose to work 9 am to 3 pm to mirror a kid's school day or make up for the longer hours of tax season by taking much of the summer off. And her firm isn't unusual. “With new technology, there's no need to work insane hours anymore,” says Concannon. “The computers do our number crunching now, so our focus is on client relationships, which is what most of us find most rewarding.”
This trend is set to continue. “In the next five to seven years, the flexibility offered in accounting will take a big leap in terms of opportunities to work remotely and variable hours,” says Mary Bennett of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. “Everyone is asking for this. Younger people are saying, ‘Yes, I want to telecommute or take a two-year sabbatical and come back where I left off’—and providing these options is helping employers attract and retain talent.”
A CPA designation also provides you with the flexibility to work in a field you're passionate about and move among a wide range of industries (think: casinos, major-league sports teams, fashion and finance), since pretty much everyone needs someone to do the books. “This also provides good job security, because you can jump from a failing industry, like banking, to health care, which is booming,” says Bennett. “Some accountants chart a clear path to CFO or even CEO.” Adds Concannon: “The opportunities to steer your career are really endless.”
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