Studying accountancy

By Joshua Corcuera

Last Tuesday, the accountancy profession—specifically the college degree of Bachelor of Science in Accountancy—trended on Twitter. Apparently, the tweets were mostly about warning those who are about to take the course as well as those who cheer up the incoming accountancy students for the new academic year.

For context, the study of accountancy—thanks to the K-12 program—takes only four years (eight semesters) in most universities at present. There are some few schools which still offer the program in five years (ten semesters) or four and a half years (nine semesters). In the past, prior to the implementation of K-12 in the Philippines, the accountancy program was usually taken for five years, instead of the present four years in most educational institutions.

When the course I am currently taking trended on Twitter, I cannot help but read some tweets. One user warned that the program is stressful, and after graduation it is likely that you would land at an overworked yet underpaid job. Some users disagree, however, with one claiming that a friend was offered to work abroad for a monthly pay of P 300,000 at age 25. Another mentioned that, in some international companies in Metro Manila, fresh graduates may receive a salary of up to P 40,000, which many other users claimed is not the general rule but more of an exceptional case.

So, what specialized subjects do accountancy students take? During my first year, basic accounting and the first part of intermediate accounting (which seems to be the gap between basic and advanced accounting) were taught in my university. The same appears to be true in other prominent universities in Metro Manila. During my sophomore year, I took the second and third parts of intermediate accounting, management accounting related subjects, taxation, and business law (e.g. Law on Partnership and Corporation, Law on Sales, Law on Obligations and Contracts, etc.) And during my junior year, I had several auditing subjects and two advanced accounting subjects. Now in my final year, the first semester would only have two subjects—internship and research—and the last semester would be the integrated review of board exam subjects.

Was it a difficult course? Yes, it is difficult to be honest. After all, I cannot imagine someone saying that taxation or business law or auditing theory are easy subjects. To date, I never encountered an accountancy student saying those complex subjects are easy. There are many times where I have to read until evening as I hope not only to graduate, but also to pass the board exam with flying colors. Of course, the road to these goals would never be easy and would require sacrifice, discipline, and perseverance.

However, would I recommend an incoming college student to take accountancy? My personal answer: it depends. First, if you really want to take accountancy, then so be it. Second, if you want to take accountancy for other reasons, be fully aware of the good things and the bad things commonly associated with the course and the profession. On the bad side, it is not an easy course—taxation alone is a taxing subject by itself for instance. On the good side, however, being an accountancy graduate could open you to several job opportunities. After all, all companies—regardless of nature and industry—need accountants. Moreover, some accountants become auditors which, as you may have seen recently from the Commission on Audit, are capable of upholding transparency and truth to the general public. While accountancy may sound scary, it can also be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Lastly, if you aspire to be a lawyer someday, taking accountancy is widely considered to be a good choice before entering law school.

Now, I would also like to correct common misconceptions. First misconception: you need to be smart at math to be a good accountant. To be candid, math is not very important in studying accountancy. We do not study geometry or calculus or trigonometry here, we study more practical concepts that can be commonly seen in daily lives. As a matter of fact, the math involved in accounting is merely business math and basic arithmetic which is taught as early as grade school. What is more crucial in accounting is analysis; if you want to survive the program, you should possess good analytical skills. Be more worried if analysis is your weakness, and do not worry too much if you are weak in math. Second, you would earn big once you become an accountant. Isang pirma pera agad, others would even say. However, based on what others said, including some of my professors, it is not entirely true. While it is reasonable to think that having an accountancy degree will help you find a job much easier, the pay for entry-level accountants is not very high as a general rule. But, with experience and training, it is possible to earn a relatively high salary after several years.

With all of these opinions I shared, I hope that more people would be fascinated to learn more of the accounting profession and perceive it as a profession that helps society move forward.

The author is a fourth-year accountancy student in a well-known university in Manila. He is about to start his audit and assurance internship in a Big Four accounting firm. For comments and reactions, message the author at his email: