Accountants are always going to be in high demand. But if you’re interested in accelerating your career and growing your income, you’ll have to get creative. Plenty of opportunities exist – it’s up to you to put yourself in the best possible position to be successful.
There are any number of ways to increase your income. Whether you want to earn another $400 per month to cover a household expense, or you’re looking to grow your income by 25 percent by the end of next year, you have options!
Here are a few tips you can leverage to begin moving toward your goal:
1. Develop a Specialty
There are riches in niches. This is true in any industry, but particularly in accounting, where specialized skills are held in high regard.
There are millions of accountants. But if you can zoom in and focus on a specific aspect of accounting, you’ll (a) improve your skills around that area and (b) separate yourself from the competition.
There are dozens of niches, but forensic accounting is a great example. As you may know, forensic accounting is the focus on examining financial records as evidence in white-collar criminal cases, such as money laundering schemes, fraud, cybercrime, and insider trading. It’s your job to look for red flags and inconsistencies and build a case for the prosecutor. (In forensic accounting, the median salary is more than $100,000 per year.)
That’s just one example, but it goes to show the value in niching down.
2. Add a Certification
One of the best ways to increase your income as an accountant is to add relevant certifications that are in high demand. For example, you may choose to become a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), which not only advances your career prospects, but also elevates your income.
In order to become a CMA, you’ll need to take a CMA exam prep course, pass the two-part CMA exam, and obtain your certification. It’s not easy, but it’s certainly doable for anyone who is disciplined and willing to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gain.
If a CMA certification isn’t the right fit, there are a variety of other options and tracks to consider. Options like Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) are all widely respected.
3. Start an Accounting Side Hustle
The great thing about being an accountant is that you have a useful skill others want and need. In the gig economy, this gives you an opportunity to take on side projects and side hustles. Whether it’s keeping the books for a local business or offering tax preparation services to friends and neighbors during tax season, there are ways to bring in some extra cash!
4. Invest in Networking
Earning more is not always about working more, adding some new certification, or becoming laser-focused on a specific niche. As the saying goes, it’s not always what you know, but who you know. In light of this, an investment in networking will serve you well.
Networking as an accountant can take on any number of approaches, but if you’re looking for simplicity and scalability, try LinkedIn.
Yes, you likely already have a LinkedIn profile, but are you leveraging it well? Clean up your profile, develop an articulate and consistent voice, and put yourself out there. Give massive value to those around you (without expecting anything in return) and paint yourself as “the person” for all things accounting. It’ll take time, but people will notice. And when they do, you’ll have more opportunities than you could ever want.
5. Raise Your Rates
If you run your own practice and/or offer freelance services, you always have the option of raising your rates. And while this can be intimidating and may cause a little tension with some of your long-term clients, there are ways to do it without generating too much backlash.
The first key to raising your rates is to justify the increase. You do this by increasing the value that you add and elevating your perceived authority. One of the best ways to do this is by enhancing your social media profiles. More time-intensive options include writing a book, hosting a podcast, or securing media mentions.
The second key is to raise your rates in direct proportion to the increased value you add, while simultaneously being mindful of how it impacts current clients.
Let’s say, for example, that you write a book about tax preparation and strategic ways people can save on their taxes. Regardless of how many copies you sell, the fact that you can call yourself a published author creates some level of preeminence. However, there’s a limit to the value it adds. A 10 percent increase in rates is reasonable. A 30 percent increase overnight is not.
Be very intentional when increasing rates on existing clients. Keep the increases small and always provide justification. You may also consider grandfathering in your existing clients and only increasing rates on future clients.
6. Develop Referral Networks
A final option is to partner with other financial services experts to create your own referral network. Options include financial planners, insurance advisors, mortgage brokers, and real estate agents. By setting up a reciprocal referral deal, you may be able to generate several thousand dollars in additional annual revenue.
Look Through the Windshield
When past experiences are all we have to reference, it’s easy to get stuck looking in the rearview mirror. We focus on where we’ve been, what we’ve done, and the experiences we’ve lived. And though there’s nothing wrong with being shaped by the past, it can ultimately hinder you from growth.
As you seek to increase your value (and income) as an accountant, take your eyes off the rearview mirror and look through the windshield. The new terrain might feel foreign and intimidating, but it’s also filled with opportunity.
The secret to growth – as an accountant and as a person – is to willingly embrace what lies ahead. Some of it you can control. Other stuff you can’t. But it’s the only way to improve yourself and add value to those around you!