Once students graduate from high school, they always get confused about what career to choose. Having so many options make them suffer from analysis-paralysis. I was very much confused on what should I choose – Engineering or Commerce (accounting). I finally chose engineering for my graduation and did my post graduation majors in Finance
However, it’s always better to step back from all the opinions and make an informed decision about your career. What you choose now will significantly affect who you will become in the years to come. In this article, I discuss about accounting vs engineering. Students get overwhelmed by the opportunities and the impact both these careers have on the society and the world at large. But, here’s the question for you – Do you really think that you are stuck with these two and are not able to decide which one you should pick up?
We will share everything about these two careers in this article. Read it through and make a call. You will get to know the outlook of these two careers, what sort of education and additional qualifications you require, the primary tasks you need to perform in these two careers, work-life balance you would have if you would choose to join one of these careers, the compensation of both and finally the pros and cons of choosing these careers.
Let’s get started.
Accounting vs Engineering – Outlook
To be able to good at accounting and engineering, you need to be a person who is detail-oriented, loves numbers and can be creative enough think beyond the general conception of theories. But they are completely different careers. In this section, we will discuss the perspective of these two careers so that you can get a glimpse of what to expect from each of them.
Ask any businessman, who they depend upon most? Yes, you are right – accountants! Why? Because they know the things about tax, auditing, clauses, company laws and moreover experts in how business works. So, the experts in business always recommend that you should at least know basics of accounting, if you want to go in business. But if you want to take a career in accounting, it doesn’t need to be as boring as it is being projected. You can do relevant course, earn a professional qualification and then the companies will run after you. If you are confident enough, you can also do your own accounting practice. In that case, your business will thrive in tax seasons and in other times, you need to do some marketing to keep your business all-time high.
In case of engineering, you need to be at top of the game all the time. There are new inventions coming every year and you need to update yourself with all the information floating around. Now, engineering is a very broad term. There are many specializations in engineering domain. There are computer engineers, chemical engineers, mechanical engineers, civil engineers, software engineers etc. But the thing is what should you choose? If you are curious about my specialization, I graduated in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Delhi.
Each of these specializations is very much different than each other and you need to know what you want to pursue. If you want to pursue computer engineering, you should have inclinations for computers and hardware and a little extent of software. If you want to be a civil engineer, then you need to be interested in making bridges, erecting buildings. Think through all the options. And then decide whether engineering is your cup of tea or not.
Accounting vs Engineering – Education
Accounting and engineering require different sort of degrees and additional qualifications.
Let’s start with accounting.
Accounting can be called more general degree, but if you pay attention to top-notch accountants, they are not general accountants. They specify and for that the best qualification you can go for is Chartered Accountancy (CA). This is the world’s second best course. So, you can imagine how good it really can be. But know that CA is not for the faint hearted.
The pass percentage is 2-3, so you can guess how tough it is. Only the best get through. But once you are through, a whole series of possibilities will open up for you.
Having a CA degree allows you to start your own accounting practice as well. If you are more interested in public accounting, you can think of enrolling yourself into Certified Public Accountant (CPA) course which is as good as Chartered Accountancy. But the focus of this is more on public enterprises. It’s said that if you become a CPA and join a public enterprise, your salary would be at least 15% more than any non-certified accountant.
You can also go for MBA in Accounting. MBA in Finance is also an option, but if you do it in finance, the portions of accounting would be much less. Think about these options and then take a call. I completed my MBA from IIM Lucknow with most of my electives in Finance.
Engineering is a technical degree. You need to choose which engineering courses you are interested in and then enroll yourself for the same. If you are interested in academics, you can do M.Tech and ultimately PhD as well. But if you are more interested in going for a job, the opportunities are endless. It’s said that Computer Engineers earn the maximum in United States after graduating from their courses. So, if you are inclined toward computers, you can go for it. Otherwise, Chemical engineering, Electronics engineering pay well too.
Both of these courses require strong math skills and you need to be really good with calculation. Accuracy is the key here.
According to the survey conducted by Career Bliss in 2012, accounting and engineering both come in the top 20 happiest jobs in USA. So, before you choose anything between accounting and engineering, know that work satisfaction is guaranteed.
Let’s look at what key roles you need to play as an accountant or an engineer.
Accounting vs Engineering – Primary tasks or roles
The accountant is always at the edge of his seat. He has to classify, record and maintain the accuracy of the accounting statements. A company has so many transactions on every day basis. The primary job of an accountant is to note the transactions and do corresponding journal, ledger and trail balance so that finally at the end of the year, these transactions can take place in the company balance sheet and the balance sheet can be tallied. Thus, accounting needs accuracy.
Think about this. If one transaction gets missed by the accountant, and let’s say that the transaction is of few thousand dollars, then how would it affect the balance sheet of the company! Even if accounting jobs are called boring and routine, it is far from it. Yes, there are definitely some parts that are monotonous, but that doesn’t mean there is no exciting thing about accounting. If you do Chartered Accountancy, your job would be more exciting as you would be having a lot of knowledge and experience in the field of taxations, management audit, management accounting, social auditing and advanced accounting.
Do have a look at the Top 10 Accounting Firms
In case of engineering, there are mainly six functions which are of prime importance. Let’s look at them one by one –
- Research: This is one of the primary things you need to do for you to invent something new. Using different experimentation techniques, applying inductive reasoning and employing mathematical concepts into your research would yield you greater benefits.
- Development: Once the engineer researches and gathers information that can be useful, it’s time to apply those ideas in development of a product or a new idea that can help the company.
- Design: In designing a product or any structure like building or bridge, the engineer designs each and every part of the structure or the product. It is first done on paper and then a prototype is being built.
- Construction: An engineer constructs the building or the structure by following the design crafted by him or by his colleague.
- Operation: Engineers who handle machines, equipment, take care of the overall operation of these machines. He takes care of the procedures and supervises the personnel to see whether every part of the machine or equipment is working properly.
- Management functions: Along with taking care of the above functions, an engineer needs to take care of planning, organizing, controlling and leading. But they are not given to perform any management functions before they get some experience.
Accounting vs Engineering – Work-life balance
If you become an accountant, you will be to maintain a great work-life balance. You will generally have 40 hour work-week and will get enough time for your family and to enjoy any hobby you like. If you become CA, your work pressure will increase, but still you will not have 16 hours day every day. Rarely do you need to work 16 hour a day.
If you choose engineering, work-life balance would depend on what specialization you choose. But the job hours are not as much as you would see in case of an investment banker. Thus, as engineer you can maintain good work-life balance throughout.
Many times engineers want to make a career in Investment Banking. I have written an in depth article on this topic – Can an engineer get an investment banking job?
Accounting vs Engineering – Compensation
Now here’s the most important part for many, yes, the compensation for each profession.
Let’s start with accountant. The median salary for an accountant in USA is around US $65,940 per annum. The best ten per cent get around US $115,000 per annum and lowest-paid make around US $41,000. This salary is for those who have done their degree course and don’t have any speciality. Let’s call them general accountant. What if you go for Chartered Accountancy after you complete your bachelor degree course or along with it? Have a look at the salary of the Chartered Accountant. A chartered accountant makes anywhere between US $150,000-200,000 per annum. Now you can see the difference. If you can do your chartered accountancy, you would be able to earn much more than the general accountant.
In case of engineering, let’s say the compensation one by one.
- A computer engineer earns around US $110,650 per annum. The top 10 per cent earn around US $160,610 per annum.
- A software engineer earns around US $106,050 per annum. The top 10 per cent earn around US $154,800 per annum.
- A chemical engineer earns around US $103,590 per annum. The top 10 per cent earn around US $156,980 per annum.
- An electrical engineer earns around US $95,780 per annum. The top 10 per cent earn around US $143,200 per annum.
- A mechanical engineer earns around US $87,140 per annum. The top 10 per cent earn around US $126,430 per annum.
So, you can understand that if you do your engineering in any field, the money is not an issue at all.
Accounting vs Engineering – Pros and Cons
- As an accountant, you would be paid well with just 40 hours of work. Yes, during tax seasons you need to work more than that, but still it’s a good profession to be in, if you think about the money it provides.
- Progression is fast in accounting. As you are the center of the business, your growth would be much higher than other professions.
- As accountant, you can move to many different careers. You can work as an auditor or a tax consultant or you can choose to go for management accounting. Of course, you need to do specialized course to get more value, but accounting opens the doors for you.
- To be a top-notch accountant, you need to do certification. We have put in the cons because not everyone is ready to do the certification. And without certification, you can become a general accountant. But that way, you will stall new opportunities and great compensations.
- As some part of accounting is monotonous, it may seem boring to you sometimes.
- The work is always interesting. You will always find new things to learn and to think about.
- Usually, it’s easy to find a job in engineering if you pass out from a good college and you have at least fundamental understanding of how things work.
- From the above, you understand that one of best things about being an engineer is you will get paid well.
- A degree in engineering would be helpful for you if you want to change direction to finance or any other difficult career path.
- One of the worst things about engineering is that you have ideas about all the things. But most engineers lack the depth of understanding in a specific area which other science and commerce graduates have.
- You often need to work long hours which can affect your work-life balance.