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Accounting -Will it live on?

  1. Mar 4, 2007 #1
    There is one thing my family is well known for.. It's maths.. My dad can do such complex equations in his head.. Does em faster than I can on the calculator.. Now my parents want me to become either an accountant, or an engineer..

    Well I just turned 17, so My theories might be umm.. dunno how to put it.. Garbage?

    Well anyway this is what I think.. I always hear everyone saying their becoming an accountant etc.. I know soooooooo many people that are becoming an accountant.. Well what I wonder is that, will accounting really survive? With computers becoming faster and more complex, I think it'll be a matter of time before computers replace accountants.. Also since there are so many people going in the accounting field will there not be more workers than work?

    When I talk to people about this, they tell me that accounting is very hard and that most people that go in the field don't really graduate out as accountants..

    I don't mind becoming an engineer, but I heard it's really hard (as I read the engineering thread).

    Well anyway what do U guyz think? Is accounting gonna be as good of a source of bread in the house in the future as it is now? And will computers really take over?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 4, 2007 #2


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    Ever hear the expression, "Garbage in, garbage out?" :wink:

    Suppose you have software that can do all the arithmetic in a flash, for a company's financial statement. Someone still has to ensure that the right numbers are going into the right inputs, which means understanding all the laws and accounting practices that deal with financial statements.
  4. Mar 4, 2007 #3
    Ok I get what u mean

    by the way never heard of that sayin..
  5. Mar 4, 2007 #4
    I know that you're worried about competing with computers, but there's also the issue of outsourcing to worry about. As Jtbell said, you need a human being to check the math. But why pay a high salary to an American accountant when a guy in India can do the same job for half the pay? A lot of engineering jobs are being outsourced right now, and I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing happens to accounting. My dad, for example, had his engineering job outsourced somewhere, and he had a hard time finding another one (the same thing happened at his next job, btw). And he has two Master's degrees in electrical engineering! I'm not trying to scare you away, but it's something to think about as far as accounting and engineering go.

    From what I can tell, in terms of job security, it looks like medicine and academics are good fields. I rarely see a doctor or a college professor get laid off.
  6. Mar 5, 2007 #5
    I've actually a couple articles which talks about how surgeons are starting to become "outsourced" in a way. Apparently, a growing number of people are flying to places like India, where from what I understand, you can get heart surgery by U.S.-trained and licensed doctors for something like $10k.
  7. Mar 5, 2007 #6
    Really? I'd be interested to read more about this, if you have any extra information. I'm asking because I happen to have a brother who wants to go to med school (and he's motivated mostly by the job security). I think he might find this of interest...and I might be able to wrangle him into physics while I'm at it.
  8. Mar 5, 2007 #7
    Sure. Here's an article that Time had on the subject. (However, if I had to guess, I'd say that the medical field as a whole isn't in danger of being outsourced. Only the really expensive surgeons have the risk: specialists and general practitioners can't really be cheaply outsourced.)
  9. Sep 28, 2009 #8
    Is accounting one of those jobs where "the longer you stay, the more valuable you are to the company"? Because I know that programming/engineering AREN'T...
  10. Sep 28, 2009 #9


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    This is contrary to my own experience and the experience of every engineer and programmer I know. I work in Silicon Valley, and know many...

    - Warren
  11. Sep 28, 2009 #10
    Let me put it this way, say you are a wiz at maths. If you do accounting you will probably excel and be fine, but if you do real maths you have a chance of taking you perceptive of the world to a whole nother level. Depends what you value more I guess, Intellectual Reward Vs Monetary Reward.
  12. Sep 28, 2009 #11
    Sorry about the generalization. But does being in the accounting profession for a long time make you more valuable?
  13. Sep 28, 2009 #12
    Having dealt with MANY accountants, there is no way that computers will ever replace humans when it comes to understanding tax rules. While I don't live there, I understand the USA has the most complicated tax law in the universe.

    That said, accounting is about my least favorite activity in the world. Yes, you can make a lot of money shuffling other people's numbers around but, unless you have a calling for it, your life will drain away in an activity of no lasting social value. Think hard before choosing an entire life's work just based on monetary reward.

    As much as many people here whine about the difficulties of finding jobs in science, there are many many many other people with well-paying jobs that they bitterly hate and can't quit because they are too heavily invested in the career.

    It is not a black-and-white choice between eternal uncertainty and eternal drudgery but be cautious...
  14. Sep 28, 2009 #13
    Accounting is not math.
  15. Sep 28, 2009 #14

    Ben Niehoff

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    Most accountants get paid peanuts, work long hours in basements, deal with horribly out-of-date software that doesn't actually work, and end up spending most of their time doing data entry and other dreadfully boring tasks. Unless you get a CPA, learn some tax law, and such; then you can do better.

    Given the choice between accounting and engineering, I would definitely choose engineering. With strong math skills you could also consider being a physicist or a mathematician.
  16. Sep 28, 2009 #15
    I just wanted to chime in "Amen." If you aren't more valuable to the company as time goes on, you just aren't doing your job properly.
  17. Sep 30, 2009 #16
    So, why can't a really complicated expert system be made to process through all the tax laws? It seems to me it's only a matter of time before software automates all professions, and accounting seems to be one of the first.
  18. Sep 30, 2009 #17


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    Because the devil is in the details. Once you start going through the tax codes (if you are good at it), you will find ways to make your company more profitable simply by paying less taxes. Ever wonder why companies often lease equipment instead of buying it? There's always a reason. Ever think about who owns the company that owns the equipment that the company leases? How about paying wholly-owned offshore-based companies more than the going rate to provide services that you could have sourced domestically? There is a reason for the complexity of the tax codes. Tax laws are written by lobbyists who represent businesses.

    If the tax codes were simplified dramatically, and we could keep lobbyists from having such free access (and influence) with our members of Congress, then I might be worried about whether accountants might be replaced. Not now.
  19. Sep 30, 2009 #18
    LOL - Go for it.

    In the mean time, I think we are much closer to a solid theory of Quantum Gravity.
  20. Oct 1, 2009 #19
    I'm actually working part-time in an accounting office at a local WalMart. It's really interesting how much of this lines up with the reality of the low-levels of accounting in an organization.

    Most of what I do is what you would expect. Sort through stacks of ones and fives, all kinds of crumbly coupons and bottle return slip, and enter those into the books i.e. in WalMart's info system, which is ridiculously low-level and unhelpful on my end. The best tool I get is a linear search function to scan previous day's receipts (in a program that indexes all receipts by time and register). The room I work in is cold and windowless room, with cameras eyeing me from every direction. Anyway, after deposits I research the sales entered into the system versus what was physically sent to the office at the end of the day. Then I try to reconcile the two if I can find any cashier errors. Other than that I post a ton of random cash payments to various accounts and have head cashiers perform various randomly chosen audits on a given day.

    There's not many ways you can automate that. Someone does have to check to ensure that the information systems provide accurate results. And the information systems actually help inform and speed along the process.

    So there's at least two aspects of accounting that won't change. Auditing and information systems (as in building information systems and the audit process). There's also related business issues like internal controls, law (as in compliance with laws), and taxes.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2009
  21. Oct 3, 2009 #20
    my dads a CPA. he owns his own practice in three different states. he has made quite a living on his salary alone. although he says times are getting tough now that the economy is down so i dk right now how things are going and i dont plan to ask hahas./
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