Everybody needs an accountant
If you are considering studying towards becoming a chartered accountant, then there are probably a few things you’d like to know about your prospects once you qualify, such as who are the possible employers for accounting graduates and how much do accountants earn in South Africa.
Being an accountant is all about being organised and handling money well, so it’s only natural that you’re looking for answers. The good news is that there is a shortage of chartered accountants in South Africa and it is one of the country’s highest-paying professions.
- The shortage of chartered accountants in South Africa
- Who are the largest employers for accountants?
- What kind of careers are available to accountants?
- How much do accountants earn in SA?
We’ll cover all of this in detail and answer those questions through the course of this article on the employment prospects for South African accountants, but you’re also welcome to jump ahead if you’re looking for something specific.
As already mentioned, there is a big shortage of chartered accountants and their skills are in high demand by prospective employers. According to the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica), there is an estimated shortage of 22,000 qualified chartered accountants in South Africa when they conducted a study in 2009.
Asked for more recent figures, Saica project director of media and communications Carin Jacobsen said that it had not done any more recent surveys, but she could confirm that accounting remains an “occupation of high demand” as per the list of critical skills identified by the Department of Labour that the country needs.
“Youth unemployment is a colossal problem. The latest youth labour statistics show that of the country’s working-age youths (15 to 34 years), less than one in three is employed. No wonder ‘not being able to find a job’ is among their top three fears,” she said.
“Choosing a career where skills are in short supply enhances the likelihood of finding employment. Take chartered accountancy, for example. Not only is South Africa in desperate need of more chartered accountants, but recent surveys also show that they are among the top 10 vacancies employers battle to fill,” Jacobsen concluded.
With this shortage of accountants in the country, you can feel safe knowing your skills will always be in demand and that there are many possible employers of accountants in South Africa.
The South African government has included a number of accounting roles on its draft critical skills list (or view this easier to read version from CareersPortal). The roles of general accountant, management accountant, external or internal auditor, accountant in practice, financial accountant, forensic accountant, tax professional and accounting officer are included on the list. This means that due to the local shortage of skilled professionals, the government is making it easier for foreigners with those skills to live and work in the country.
One of the main reasons for this shortage is that not enough people are qualifying and passing their board exams. This is for a number of reasons, but thanks to more quality online programmes and courses for studying chartered accountancy, it is easier than ever to obtain the right qualifications to help fill this national shortage. Not only would you be setting yourself up for a very good chance at financial success and independence, but you can also be glad that you’ll be helping the country out by applying your in-demand skills.
As a qualified accountant, you will be in demand from a number of different companies and possible employers.
The “Big Four” accountancy firms are the biggest employers of accountants in the country, but many businesses from small to the very largest require people with accounting skills and qualifications. Skills that you can get yourself from the comfort of home with an online course.
Aside from the “Big Four” and other large accounting firms, there’s also demand for accounting skills among all the country’s banks and other large businesses. There is also a great need for skilled accountants to work in government, with the office of the auditor general and the SA Revenue Services being the two top government employers of accountants.
Here are links to see the jobs currently available as well as the graduate recruitment and other programmes at some of the largest accountancy firms in South Africa.
There are many careers available once you’ve qualified as an accountant. Having the foundational skills of knowing how to manage a companies finances will make you very in demand by companies big and small. If you have an entrepreneurial leaning and want to start a business, your accounting skills will give your business a far better chance of success than those run by someone without those valuable financial management skills.
As a qualified chartered accountant, there are several different roles you can fulfil at a company. These include:
- Auditor: Auditors analyse a company’s financial statements to ensure accuracy and compliance with legislation.
- Staff accountant: A staff accountant prepares a company’s taxes, reports and financial statements while also handling the bookkeeping and managing the company’s budget.
- Forensic accountant: Forensic accountants investigate fraud and other account mismanagement.
- Tax accountant: Tax accountants specialise in tax legislation and they work to legally reduce a company’s tax bill by making maximum use of available deductions, among other things.
- Finance manager: Finance managers are responsible for an organisation’s financial health of an organisation. They handle financial reporting and investment and are must ensure that the company complies with all tax and financial legislation.
Here’s a nicely compiled list of the salaries that experienced and qualified chartered accountants in South Africa can potentially earn. Included in that list are chief executives and chief financial officer of many companies, two of the highest paying roles in an organisation.
As the chief financial officer or finance director of a large company, qualified chartered accountants can earn between R2 million and R3 million per year. Lower down the organisational hierarchy, a qualified chartered accountant with six or more years of experience can earn between R1 million and R1.5 million per year. Even without experience, the entry-level salary for a newly qualified chartered accountant at a large South African company is R550,000 to R650,000 or more per year.
By studying accounting such as UJ’s Online Bachelor of Commerce in Accountancy you will have the skills and qualifications to take advantage of the fantastic employment opportunities available to a qualified chartered accountant.