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accounting

It may not be the most glamorous job in finance, but accountants are largely confident that their jobs are safe and there are plenty of opportunities currently if they want to move on to another firm. Indispensible in times of strife or steady growth, accounting jobs are essential to the success of all financial firms.

What’s more, accounting is the basis for all financial careers. “Accounting is the language of business,” says Rodrigo Verdi, an associate professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. “I’m not training you to be an accountant. I’m training you because whatever you decide to do, accounting is going to be fundamental.”

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Anyone in finance talking to investors about raising capital and investing strategies can’t succeed with a firm grasp on accounting. Those in operations seeking to improve firm performance and minimize costs can’t do it without an understanding of accounting.

“I don’t think accounting is a self-contained field,” Verdi says. “A lot of what I do is on the frontier between accounting and finance.”

The newest Mergis Group Finance and Accounting Employee Confidence Index found that overall confidence increased 9.7 points to a six-year high of 63.1, the highest level among all industries tracked by Randstad in the second quarter, including engineering, IT and healthcare.

The majority, or two-thirds of the 173 finance and accounting workers surveyed from April 1-3, May 7-9 and June 4-6, 2013, said they are confident in the future health of their employer, a seven percentage point jump from the first quarter.

“We continue to see the role of accounting and financial professionals evolve across industries,” said Steve McMahan, president, Randstad Finance & Accounting, Randstad Human Resources, Accountants International and The Mergis Group. “Hiring managers are looking for more than number-crunchers; they want analytical candidates with good communication skills who can assess the marketplace and react accordingly.”

Despite a slight drop, to 42% from 49% in the first quarter, of finance and accounting worker confidence in finding a new job, 31% believe more jobs are available, a notable increase from 20% in the first quarter.

In the U.K., accounting and finance vacancies leapt by 24% in July from the same period last year, according to research by professional recruitment specialists Badenoch & Clark.

Prospects are just as bright in the U.S.

A new study released by the American Institute for CPAs  found that hiring by public accounting firms is at an all-time high, especially at the master’s degree level, and that 89% of public accounting firms believe they will hire as many if not more graduates next year.

There have been many moves in insurance underwriting and financial analysis, as well as rocketing interest in transactional-based accounting, technical accounting, domestic tax and audit searches at the analyst, accountant and manager levels, says McMahan.

Business schools are bolstering their programs to meet to growing demand for accounting courses.

You don’t have to be an MBA or spend a fortune on education to land a job at a firm like Ernst & Young, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Deloitte and Grant Thornton.

The first graduating class of the Penn State Smeal College of Business One-Year Master of Accounting (MAcc) Program boasts a 100% internship placement rate at Big Four accounting firms and a 100% job placement rate at graduation. All students land internships and many are placed at KPMG, Ernst & Young, Deloitte and PwC, which recruit heavily at Penn State.

While the general public may only think of the Big Four when firms collapse do to accounting errors, accountants are always visible in the financial world.gran

“On a day-to-day basis, the more nuanced changes (made by accountants) are known by the investors following firms, and people in financial markets,” says Verdi.

Follow the author on Twitter @natashagural

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