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June 7, 2024

How Can Accountants Advance Their Careers in Canada?

The accounting job you have today may not be the same one you picture yourself in 10 years from now. So, how do you make it to the corner office?

The accounting profession is constantly evolving and incorporating new practices, technologies, and trends. You’re always learning new things at work, but it’s also important to keep your skills relevant with a combination of education and professional development. This is crucial to establishing and advancing within your accounting career.

It’s more important than ever to make yourself more valuable by expanding not just technical skills, but skills needed for the future, such as communication, business development, data analysis, problem-solving, and business acumen that is more than just an understanding of the numbers, but the business as a whole.

You’ve put in the work to get your degree. Now you have your first job in the accounting industry – congrats!

Still, you’re looking to take that next step. The good news is you can fast-track your career and get the promotion you’re looking for with just a little extra effort. Accounting is one of those careers that remain secure even during hard times. As a result, it’s a popular career option that allows you to work in multiple fields or as an entrepreneur if you have the skills to run your own business.

Jobs in the accounting industry can be competitive. Standing out from your fellow job seekers is not only crucial but easier than you may think.

Advancing a career in accounting in Canada involves a combination of continuous learning, networking, gaining relevant experience, and pursuing advanced certifications. Here are ways to pursue professional development and prevent inertia in your career.

By following these strategies, accountants in Canada can effectively advance their careers, increase their professional value, and achieve their long-term career goals.

Draft a Career Development Plan

Accountants have busy schedules and are expected to balance different tasks and responsibilities. Keeping track of your own progression can be difficult, therefore it is important that you have a career development plan and set goals to work towards. Successful professionals know what they want and outline a strategy to get there. This puts them in good stead to understand what action they need to take to move closer to a promotion or opportunities for career development. Understanding the different career paths available can be a great way to open your options and opportunities to develop your career.

Request Feedback

If you don’t request feedback or advice from your managers, you won’t know what you need to improve on or how to get ahead in the accounting industry. Informal or formal feedback is a great way to help you understand your strengths and weaknesses, strengthen relationships, and increase productivity. 

The desire to improve and develop shows initiative and these proactive efforts don’t go unnoticed and could result in promotions or benefits. Listen to constructive feedback and incorporate the improvements into your work to increase your chances of getting ahead in the accounting industry.

Pursue Advanced Certifications

Getting the right certifications for your career proves that you can go above and beyond for your job.

  • CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant): The CPA designation is essential for many advanced accounting roles. It requires passing the Common Final Examination (CFE) and gaining relevant work experience.
  • Specialized Certifications: Consider additional certifications such as:
  • Certified Internal Auditor (CIA): For those focusing on internal auditing.
  • Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE): For specialization in forensic accounting.
  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA): Although now part of a CPA, pursuing management accounting roles often benefits from the CMA focus.
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA): For roles in finance and investment.

Gain Diverse Experience

Diversification is critical in your retirement fund. But have you ever thought of diversifying your experience? It’s important not to stay stuck doing one task for too long if you want to move up the corporate ladder.

Accountants need to have a wide breadth of knowledge to be successful in their careers. When you’re building your career, it’s important to experience several roles in accounting and not stay in the same role for too long.

  • Rotate Through Different Roles: Gain experience in various accounting functions such as auditing, tax, financial reporting, and management accounting.
  • Work in Different Industries: Exposure to different industries can provide a broader understanding of accounting practices and industry-specific challenges.
  • International Experience: If possible, work on international assignments or projects to understand global accounting standards and practices.

Continue Education and Training

Indeed, what you learn in school can quickly become obsolete.

  • Advanced Degrees: Pursue a master's degree such as an MBA with a focus on finance or a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) to deepen your knowledge and improve your qualifications.
  • Professional Development Courses: Regularly attend workshops, webinars, and courses on the latest accounting standards, tax laws, and financial regulations.

Be Open to New Opportunities

If a new career opportunity arises, don’t close yourself off even if you are content in your current position. Consider the possibility that a new challenge could benefit your career and be a stepping stone to get to where you want to be. 

A lot of the time, accountants get promoted over their peers because they are open to new opportunities in the first place. Show interest, and enthusiasm and contribute ideas to demonstrate your commitment and show that you deserve to be promoted.

Keep up With the Latest Technology

Technology is a major force reshaping the future of careers in accountancy and the roles available. New opportunities and roles are emerging and shifting social norms and values.  Stay up to date on new industry trends and technological advancements via webinars, blog articles, and research reports. 

Embrace technology to fulfill your growth and potential promotions by impressing those around you with your knowledge of the industry and advantageous time-saving systems. 

Build a Professional Network

  • Join Professional Organizations: Become active in organizations such as CPA Canada, provincial CPA bodies, the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Canada, and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) Canada.
  • Attend Industry Events: Participate in conferences, seminars, and networking events to meet industry peers and leaders.
  • Online Networking: Use platforms like LinkedIn to connect with other professionals and join relevant groups.

Stay Proactive

Be proactive with your career progression, and make yourself more attractive and valuable to management. There are ways to develop your skills and progress in the industry even without an additional qualification or accreditation. Research, upskill, and keep yourself active and engaged at all times. 

The most successful accountants have a clear goal and strategies on how best to utilize their skills and efforts to get ahead. Use your initiative, present opportunities to clients, and make efforts to prove that you are proactive. 

Focus on Relationships

A lot of accounting is focused on the data entry and running of reports. However, to be successful, you need to handle your clients and teammates respectfully.

Building relationships with those on your teams and your clients will gain you huge points in the accounting industry. Staying professional, being approachable, and relating to other people is a skill that not everyone has. Plus, operating on a human level instead of focusing only on business is a nice change of pace during the day.

One of the best ways to build a relationship with others is to actively listen to them. As an accountant, you might think you know what’s best for your clients.

That might be true, but listening to their concerns and communicating how you can best help them is going to leave them feeling taken care of.

Have a Global Mindset

As technologies advance, companies look for global teams to run accounting departments.

Technologies such as AI, machine learning, and automation are becoming more common in the accounting sector, and you need basic knowledge to keep up.

As we live and operate in a digital world, keeping on top of a development that impacts the sector is key to impressing in an interview or moving up the ladder in your current role.

Embracing a global mindset will help you stay ahead of the curve throughout your accounting career.

Seek Mentorship

  • Find a Mentor: Seek out experienced professionals who can provide guidance, advice, and insights into career advancement.
  • Be a Mentor: Mentoring junior accountants can also help you develop leadership skills and reinforce your knowledge.

Be Dependable

Your company will take note of who the key performers are on the team. As an accountant, your work is time-sensitive and must be accurate.

Show that you’re a valuable team member by sticking to your word about deadlines and completing your work accurately. If you fall behind on a project, make sure you’re reaching out and communicating.

Simple things like arriving on time, finishing your shift, and staying positive are ways you can show that you’re worth a promotion. Look for ways to solve problems, both in your role and for your teammates.

Demonstrate Value to Employers

  • Efficiency Improvements: Proactively identify and implement process improvements to increase efficiency and accuracy.
  • Strategic Advice: Provide valuable insights and strategic financial advice to help your organization achieve its goals.
  • Reliability and Integrity: Consistently demonstrate high ethical standards and reliability in your work.

Apply for Challenging Roles

  • Internal Promotions: Apply for promotions within your current organization to take on more responsibility.
  • New Opportunities: Be open to new job opportunities that offer career growth, even if it means changing employers or relocating.

Final Thoughts

Creating your future in the accounting field is an exciting thought. If you already know the direction you’re heading, it can be a lot easier for you to take steps toward your next role.

Accounting is a fast-paced and ever-changing field. If you want to advance in your career, you’ll need to stay on top of all the trends and work diligently to set yourself apart from the rest.

Future accounting jobs will require dedicated professionals ready to evolve alongside the industry. Don’t let yourself be left behind — learn more about how you can gain the skills that can bring your career to the next level by enrolling with Get Trained Get Hired. If you need any assistance in preparing your resume or you need more specific interview guidelines that best suit your personal requirements to have a breakthrough in the Canadian job market reach out to Gettrainedgethired.com to book a free 30-Minute career counseling meeting. At Gettrainedgethired.com we provide you with the necessary training to learn practical skills to become an accountant. Our training is based on practical real-life cases.  After the training, we work on your resume and try to place you in accounting firms through our network. You will also get access to like-minded individuals who are looking for jobs through our WhatsApp group. Please feel free to contact us at [email protected]. Or call us at 647-275-7150

Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is intended to provide general information. The information does not consider your situation and is not intended to be used without consultation from professionals. Salman Randhawa and Gettrainedgethired.com will not be held liable for any problems that arise from the usage of the information provided on this page.


Salman Rundhawa

Salman has a strong desire to help others succeed and believe in passing on the knowledge. He likes to mentor others and wish to play part in other people success.
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