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Students Who Are Good With Numbers Urged to Major in Accounting

By Keith Morelli

Students listening to speaker

TAMPA (Feb. 17, 2017) -- If you want to make a career out of business but you're not sure what field to focus on, accounting just might be for you. That was the theme delivered to just over 100 students, many of whom were still in high school, attending the Accounting Preview Day at the University of South Florida's Marshall Center.

The message from the keynote speaker, Chris Denner, controller with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a USF graduate with an accounting degree, is that those who enter the workforce with a firm knowledge of accounting can go anywhere in any business.

"With an accounting degree, you will be recruited right out of school," he said. "Every business needs an accountant; you can't say that about some of the other professions."

He said accountants typically start out making a much higher salary than other majors. He is only 10 years into his career, he said, and his salary is twice what it was when he started out.

The event was held to nudge USF students undecided on majors or high-school students curious about career choices in business, to take a long look at accounting, "the language of business," as it's called in the event's brochure.

Denner said he always leaned toward a career surrounded by numbers. He was, after all, the kid who liked math homework.

"I excelled in math," he said, "but I never considered accounting as a career."

But at USF, the numbers fell into place and he was launched into a career that paid him to keep track of numbers in columns. And, he said, the need for qualified accountants is likely to jump.

There currently are more than 1.3 million accountants in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. That figure is expected to grow by 11 percent over the next seven years, representing an additional 142,400 accounting positions. That growth, which is tied to the overall health of the economy, is rising at a rate that is faster than the average of all other occupations.

"To graduate with a degree in accounting is a ticket to a good paying job," said Uday Murthy, director of the Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy at the Muma College of Business.

"All the projections point to a need for qualified accountants and auditors in the coming years," he said. "We are confident our graduates will find good paying jobs – the starting salary now ranges from $52,000 to $55,000 a year – the day after they graduate."

Denner confirmed that there are plenty of businesses out there looking for able accountants and auditors.

He and his wife, also an accountant, have no regrets about their career choices, he said.

"I'm nothing special, my wife is nothing special," he said. "We just have a passion for what we do."