While the accounting major is in school, it would be beneficial to join a student organization in the student’s field of study. The Beta Alpha Psi is a national accounting honor society, and the American Accounting Association can help students network and find resources in their field.
After graduation, a person can join many other professional organizations. AICPA, or the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, is a very popular association for professionals in the field. The AICPA provides training classes, seminars, and networking opportunities for people to share ideas and best practices. Other groups, such as the American Society of Women Accountants, Institute of Internal Auditors, and National Association of Black Accountants are all organizations established to provide their members services, support, and resources. Many associations exist at the state level, and there are even international chapters for some groups. There is usually an annual fee to join and costs to attend training and seminars. Most associations have a code of professional conduct, membership requirements, and bylaws to follow. For the most part, the benefits of membership outweigh the nominal expense, in that you can meet others in your field and discuss future trends and perspectives in the industry.
Membership in an association is valuable for many reasons.
Conferences are held on specific topics, such as taxes, information technology, law, forensics, and valuation, where you can learn about latest trends and future perspectives in the field. You can benefit by the publications, such as Journal of Accountancy, and news the association has to offer. There are many community activities and advocacy groups to join. In addition, members might receive discounts on products and services such as loans, computers, and car rentals. Many associations give special recognition awards to honorary members who have provided exemplary service. Sometimes these awards are given to people who have distinguished themselves during a public service activity or who have made a significant impact on the profession. These awards can come with monetary prizes or trips, but the recognition these awards carry in the field is priceless.
Consumers and businesses want an accounting professional who is an expert in the field and recognized for his or her contributions. Many times these awards result in advancements within the company or additional client base. Certificates and plaques are given to the recipients to hang in their office.
There are many publications and journals the accounting professional can read. The Journal of Accountancy, or JofA, is an AICPA publication and focuses on new developments in the field. It is important that professionals stay abreast of industry trends, especially as they relate to tax filing, ethics, auditing, and accounting standards. This journal has been around since 1905, has almost 400,000 subscribers, and is issued in print publication and online. Accounting professionals can use the online format to search for current issues by topic area.
There are other respected journals in the field to help professionals stay aware of industry trends. The Journal of Forensic Accounting or JFA publishes research on transactions and reporting. The Journal of Emerging Technologies in Accounting provides articles on how information systems and artificial intelligence are changing the accounting profession landscape. Another, similar publication is the International Journal of Accounting Information Systems, which provides research-based articles on the impact of technology in the accounting practice.
The importance of keeping up to date with industry trends is especially important when your job is in the public sector or financial in scope. The Accounting Review is a journal, published six times a year, by the American Accounting Association and is devoted to education, research, and practice in the industry. Many articles on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act have appeared in the journal. The Financial Accounting Standards Board or FASB regularly publishes changes in government legislations. The accounting professional is encouraged to stay current with changes in law, technology, and recent industry trends.