Accounting is one of the fastest growing occupations in Australia and is a field where many CEOs and successful entrepreneurs start out. Having accounting skills such as budgeting, payroll, the ability to make complex financial calculations as well as to read and create financial reports, are not only applicable to accounting roles but are also great foundations to any career.

Accounting is considered a stable and future-proof career choice, with the number of jobs rising strongly in the past 10 years. The outlook for accountants is bright with the number of jobs projected to increase to more than 50,000 by 2020*.

What are the steps to becoming an accountant?

To become an accountant you will need to obtain a relevant VET or tertiary qualification. The type of role you’re looking for will help you decide whether a certificate IV, diploma or a bachelor’s degree is right for you. 

Through Chisholm Online, we offer the Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping and the Diploma of Accounting. These online courses ensure you are able to study and obtain your qualification without leaving your job or letting go of family and social commitments.

If you choose to study on campus, we also offer the Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping, the Diploma of AccountingAdvanced Diploma of Accounting and the Bachelor of Accounting through our La Trobe University Partnership. Through this partnership, you can study the Bachelor of Accounting locally, in the central business district of Dandenong and fast track your degree by combining one year of TAFE study with two years of further study.

What are the job outcomes of Chisholm’s accounting courses?

The following courses will give you the necessary skills to start working in the industry and are a solid foundation to build up to more senior accounting roles.

Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping

  • business activity statement (BAS) agent
  • accounts receivable officer
  • accounts payable officer

Diploma of Accounting

  • assistant accountant
  • financial controller

Advanced Diploma of Accounting 

  • registered tax agent
  • financial controller
  • accountant

Bachelor of Accounting (La Trobe University partnership)

  • auditor
  • financial planner
  • investment advisor
  • market analyst

How much will I earn?

The world is really your oyster when it comes to accounting and your salary will depend on your ability to work hard, learn and take on challenges.
The median accounting salary for full time workers is $1,404 per week (before tax)*.

“As a TAFE graduate, you can expect to earn between approximately $40,000 – $50,000 per year, however, this salary can grow strongly if you continue your education to university level, display leadership skills and effectively communicate with your stakeholders,” says Chisholm Online accounting teacher Rebecca Nowak.

More senior accounting roles, such as commercial analysts, financial analysts and accounting managers have average salaries of $100,000 – $160,000-plus**.

What are employers looking for in accounting job candidates?

“Candidates who show a strong sense of worth ethic, tenacity and the ability to follow instructions are highly sought-after, so make sure you include these keywords in your accounting resume and give examples during your interview," says Chisholm Online accounting teacher Karin Graham.

"In addition to this, being well-groomed is a reflection on how you take care of yourself and therefore how much attention to detail you are likely to show in your work. In an industry where the ‘devil is in the detail’, this is often something which candidates overlook.

“Academic performance is also reviewed, as this provides an insight into the personality of the candidate and their ability to complete tasks and projects under pressure. Performing very well academically is always a positive aspect, as this indicates a sense of pride in a candidate’s work and a willingness to do the best they can – traits which are necessary in the accounting industry.”

Accounting teacher Rebecca Nowak adds: “As an entry-level employee, you’ll be expected to learn how to use different accounting systems and be able to ask the right questions so that the correct information is recorded.

"Being able to work with your colleagues is also an important aspect to your employability, because working in finance means working with many internal and external stakeholders.

“Always thinking about the bigger picture is also important to your employability.  So although you might be processing invoices on one hand, you’ll also need to be able to communicate these results to your manager, address any internal control concerns you have in order to climb the ladder and enjoy higher levels of responsibility and remuneration."

Qualities and skills accounting employers are looking for in candidates:

  • Neatly presented
  • Punctual
  • Courteous
  • Committed to their work
  • Enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the organisation
  • Motivated
  • Capable of problem solving
  • Attentive to detail
  • Capable and willing to learn new systems and procedures
  • Ability to follow instructions.

How to get a job in accounting

It’s important to complete some form of accounting-based qualification. The type of role you are looking for will determine the amount of study you will need to undertake and the exact accounting qualifications needed.

After completing your studies, you’ll need to look for any opportunity to work within the accounting industry. Karin Graham recommends talking to friends, parents, neighbours about your aspirations.

“Sometimes it’s about being in the right place at the right time to hear about an internal job being offered that you would be interested in.

“It’s also important to build your understanding of what it is to work within the accounting field,” she says.

Relevant work experience and discussions with practicing accountants will contribute to your understanding of the field. This will enable you to discuss who you are as a candidate and what experience you can bring to the role during the interview.

* Australian Government Job Outlook. 2017. Visit the Job Outlook website
** Michael Page. 2017. Salary Centre. Visit the Michael Page website.