Career advancement advice for CPAs and tax professionals


Given the new landscape, CPAs and other tax professionals may ask you what steps you can take to grow your career and land your next opportunity.

Now that we’ve been in the pandemic for over a year, tax season is (finally) over, the economy is on the rise, and many accounting professionals may be ready to look for their next opportunity. Here are some ways CPAs and tax professionals can plan their next move.

Education is the key

It may sound basic, but education and graduation are very helpful in the accounting profession. Those who aspire to explore a new role should consider the educational and certification requirements of their chosen path.

For many professionals, obtaining their CPA license is a goal and part of their natural career progression. Obtaining this certification can qualify you for many career opportunities, from within an accounting firm to running a business in any industry, as well as helping you stand out from industry employers and recruiters. .

Depending on your long-term goals, you might consider the CMA (Certified Management Accountant), a global certification for management accountants and finance professionals, or work towards your CGFM (Certified Government Financial Manager), a professional certification. Awarded by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) which demonstrates competence in skills such as government accounting at the federal, state and local levels. Not only do additional certifications give you an edge over other job applicants, pursuing them ensures that you are constantly up to date on the latest information and increases your knowledge base.

And education doesn’t stop there. In today’s job market, knowing the latest technology, including cloud, AI, and automation, and practical applications for your role is a big differentiator. More and more companies are adopting these technologies and integrating them into their daily processes.

As a result, the need for improvement or retraining has accelerated considerably. By going ahead and training yourself on these technical skills such as data analysis and ERP aptitude, it is possible to stand out among a multitude of candidates.

Attend events (virtually)

Before COVID-19, it may not have been possible to attend an event or conference, due to cost or lack of travel time. This meant there were fewer opportunities for less experienced or more junior associates to develop and network with industry thought leaders.

Today, attending events is a little different. Instead of traditional conferences, many organizations have moved to virtual platforms, making professional development or networking opportunities more accessible for many. By signing up and learning from thought-provoking industry leaders, you can gain insight into the future of the industry and what companies are looking for in tomorrow’s leaders.

Attending virtual events is also a great way to network with peers. Many conferences offer scheduled breakout rooms, giving you the opportunity to engage and participate in discussions with peers and industry leaders. Topics may vary, but sharing your views and ideas could position you as an expert.

Another way to network virtually is to be active on social media. Consider posting your thoughts and what you hope to experience at the event, using specific hashtags and posting them on the event page or on your own social networks. In doing so, you have the opportunity to spark a great conversation with other potential attendees and industry peers and build your own professional network.

After the event, you can also share the lessons learned – this could take the form of a social media post or a written post that can be shared on platforms like LinkedIn. It is also possible to share your learnings with members of your company, which further illustrate your leadership skills.

Continue to develop your leadership role with EQ

Many companies have changed the way they hire and integrate their employees because of COVID-19. Before the pandemic, leaders may have been assessed only by their technical skills, such as developing effective financial reporting methods. But now the leadership profile has taken a turn, focusing on behavioral training and high emotional intelligence (EQ).

In order to take the next step in your career, it is essential that you focus on your emotional intelligence. In today’s climate, leaders need to be able to better connect with teams and employees, as many people want to work in a place where they feel safe.

When looking for a new career or position, you should be prepared to discuss specific times that highlight instances where EQ and the ability to connect with others has helped move a situation forward.

While this is a generally intrinsic skill, it is possible to develop your EQ through behavioral training, self-awareness, and active listening. These are the skills that matter most in the workplace today.


While many employers provide professional development and training resources for their employees, it’s important that you take charge of your future. Immersing yourself in external learning opportunities, like virtual events, and continuing to learn about the industry and necessary skills relevant to today’s times are essential to advancing your career.

When considering taking the next step, be sure to show recruiters your effectiveness in technical skills – like those that come with certifications – and knowledge of technology. Second, but just as important, show them the soft skills that set you apart from other candidates, like your willingness to stand up and share lessons learned and the ability to connect with your colleagues at all levels.

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