Life is too short to spend your career stuck wasting away at a boring accounting job. Trust me, I've been there a few times.
See, while I was in search of more autonomy and a better lifestyle, working in a cubicle was getting in the way of that. That all changed when I created a master plan to leave my accounting job and got the opportunity to become the first American partner at Accodex. Finally, I could be the location independent accountant I dreamed about being, working 100% online from anywhere in the world.
Ever since I was able to achieve my ideal lifestyle, I've been advocating for other accountants to break the shackles of their accounting jobs and gain more freedom. I even shared my story on the Abacus podcast, how I was able to ditch the 9-5 and travel the world, all while being able to work remotely. I was lucky to make my escape, however, other young accountants are frustrated with their jobs and leaving the accounting profession altogether.
Let's take a look at the current environment in the accounting profession:
The Good News: The accounting profession is changing...for the better. (i.e. more remote accounting jobs, less data entry, paperless, move from billable hour to value based pricing, etc.)
The Bad News: It's going much more slowly than the advancements in technology.
What We Can Do About It: We shouldn't wait for the profession to change. We need to create our own possibilities. At the same time we’re letting the profession know what it could do to adapt more quickly.
So, that means we need to abandon the old-school companies and accounting firms that are dragging their heels with this whole process. And we need to join the innovative entrepreneurs that are using the best technology and who understand that accountants want the option to work remotely.
Where you live shouldn’t be a barrier to working for the best companies. If your local job market sucks, either physically move to a better area, or an easier option is to virtually move online.
Why ditch the cubicle and get a remote accounting job?
Well, if it isn't obvious, some of the benefits of being able to work anywhere in the world with an internet connection are:
- no commuting to an office
- no noisy, distracting co-workers
- it's completely paperless
- flexibility in your work schedule as long as deliverables are met
- you work, live and play where you want
- you can stop daydreaming about becoming a digital nomad accountant
- you can work naked! (ok please don't do this)
Now that you can see how great it is to be able to work from home or wherever. Let's take a look at where to find these remote accounting jobs.
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I've searched all ends of the internet for the best websites to find remote accounting jobs, saving you hours of time and energy.
This job search website is specifically for accountants. Whether you're looking for an accounting internship, entry-level or experienced job, they have listings from a variety of accounting firms. They also have a dedicated page for remote accounting jobs including the following:
- Remote - Anywhere: These jobs are fully remote. You can do your job from any city, state, etc. and do not require regular office visits.
- Remote-Local: These jobs require you to live near the Company’s office for regular office visits but you primarily do your work from home.
As the name of this website suggest, FlexJobs has job listings that revolve around flexible work arrangement and working remotely.
Of course I had to include Accodex on this list since I've joined their network of freelance accountants! They are expanding their high-tech firm across the globe and looking for accountants who have the entrepreneurial spirit. Build your own book of business working a few days a week or as much as you want, while not worrying about starting an accounting firm from scratch.
Upwork is a website for freelance accountants searching for job listings all over the world. If you desire to have seasonal or project based work, then you've reached the right place.
As you may know LinkedIn is a massive professional social network that you need to be on as an accountant. Applying for many jobs on LinkedIn is easy when you have your profile filled out because you can apply in a matter of a few clicks. Unfortunately, I don't see the ability so filter by remote jobs, however, it's still worth checking out. LinkedIn also has a standalone job search app so you can search and apply from your mobile phone (App Store | Google Play).
What better place to find remote accounting jobs than a website with tech oriented employers? AngelList is a great place to filter out many of the old school employers because this is were much of the talent goes. Here's a great guide on how to use AngelList to get a remote job.
If you really want a website with only remote jobs, then RemoteOK job search by Nomad List is a great place to look. This website was built by a digital nomad, for digital nomads. The only downside is there is not many finance and accounting jobs as there are technology jobs. You can also keep tabs on the top remote companies hiring in 2017 and see what pops up.
Craigslist is perhaps one of the most well known websites to search for local jobs, however, if you didn't know, you can search for remote opportunities as well. Simply click the "telecommute' search box so only filter the remote opportunities.
Search Tip: If you live in a small city, it's worth checking a larger nearby city or other cities around the world by using the 'telecommute' filter.
Are you a CPA that wants to make some extra money preparing tax returns remotely? Taxfyle is a cool new tax service that recently last tax season is accepting CPAs. They claim you can make around $75 per hour (apply here). Not bad!
Here are some cloud based CPA and bookkeeping firms that hire virtual accountants:
- Catching Clouds - Seeking entrepreneurial accountants who don’t possess the attitude “because that’s the way it’s always been done”.
- Summit CPA Group - Offering Virtual CFO career opportunities, 80% of their workforce is virtual and they offer a flexible schedule.
- HPC - HPC is one of the handfuls of Platinum Xero Partner cloud accounting firms listed on the Xero Advisor Directory. A Platinum Xero Partner has over 500 clients on Xero accounting software. They are always on the lookout for tech-savvy accounting professionals, HPC has clients located around the world. They offer a fun and fast-paced work environment and the hours are flexible so long as deliverables are met.
- Note: If you are a cloud accounting CPA firm or cloud bookkeeping business that would like to be included on the list, please contact me on Twitter with your website and other relevant details to be added to the list.
A solution if leaving your current job isn't an option right now
Let's say for a minute, you can't leave your current accounting job right now. You could be:
- in the middle of pursuing your CPA license
- are not financially ready to hop jobs
- in love with your job, in which case...
You can try and work with your current employer to create a more flexible schedule that may include working remotely at least part-time. In this situation, I highly recommend downloading The Ultimate Flex Toolbox for CPAs [or accountants]. FlexCPAs created some great free resources like the Formal Flex Proposal Template, a How-To-Guide On Locating A Flex Job, the Flex Interview Q&A To Expect and more here.
In a real-world example, my internet friend, Fervent Finance, an accountant working in public accounting, was able to attain a remote work arrangement. This allowed him to move from NYC to a lower cost of living area and turn a once long distance relationship into a very short one. He shares some invaluable tips and how he was able to assure his employer this arrangement would not affect his work, and as a result he drastically improved his lifestyle. The best part of his story: he didn't even ask permission!
6 Steps to getting the interview for an online accounting job
It will do you no good to search and apply for remote accounting jobs if you don't possess the knowledge, skills and trust to get the interview in the first place.
So I've summarized the steps necessary to become a considered as a top candidate and really set yourself apart to get an interview for a remote accounting job:
Step 1: Create a solid online presence
If your goal is to become a virtual accountant, then one of the most important steps is creating a solid online presence. If you're only looking for a job, and not looking to start your own accounting business, then you don't need a website or blog, but you do need to ensure you have at least one or two social media profiles to display.
One of the very first people I connected with online was Andrew Argue, the former owner of The Bean Counter accounting career website. Andrew recommends Twitter as the number one tool for getting connected with accounting influencers, and LinkedIn as a close second.
It was also through Twitter, that I connected with Chris Hooper, the CEO of Accodex Partners, which ultimately led to me getting the opportunity to parter with his company.
I am by no means a social media expert and you don’t have to be either. But you do have to start. Here’s a great link from The Profitable Firm for stepping up your social media game.
By creating an online presence, I was able to grow my social media following, connect with likeminded accountants and get the remote accounting opportunity of a lifetime.
You never know who you’ll end up connecting with and what doors might open!
Step 2: Receive positive recommendations from your current and previous managers
Any recruiter or hiring manager is going to want some proof that you are a top performer and worthy of an interview. They're going to want to see that your current and previous managers have good things to say about you.
Of course, when you apply for any position you should always be including a link to your LinkedIn profile, because this is where you can easily showcase the recommendations you receive. In LinkedIn, scroll down to the 'Recommendations' section and click the 'Ask to be recommended' box. Proceed to send out a request to your former manager. See below for an example from my LinkedIn profile:
Tip: Don't wait until after the interview to provide your recommendations. Include a screenshot of your LinkedIn recommendations (like the above) as attachments or even in the body of your cover letter/application.
Step 3: Get certified & trained in cloud software
Most of the remote accounting jobs are going to use some sort of cloud accounting or cloud tax software unless workers have the ability to access a remote desktop at the company. But many cloud accounting firms have adopted cloud based software like Xero and QuickBooks Online because they are small business friendly.
Get a leg up on your competition by getting certified in any one of the most popular cloud software packages:
- QuickBooks Online Certification - as the #1 cloud accounting software for small businesses, it's obviously a good one to be certified in since most small business use the software.
- Xero Certification - even though Intuit has more market share with their product, I consider Xero to be the better of the two and is the only accounting software I recommend to my clients. With an intuitive and beautiful design, like many other accountants, I consider it to be the 'Apple' of accounting software. They were born in the cloud and they're always adding new features that continue to blow me away.
- Intuit ProConnect Tax Online Training - not only is Intuit the leader in small business cloud accounting software, they also are making it easier for tax accountants to work remotely with their cloud tax software.
When I was working at my corporate accounting job, I had exactly zero exposure to cloud accounting software since I was trained on large ERP software systems. That was until I came across Xero cloud accounting software when I was probably Googling "how to quit my accounting job and work online" or something like that. After checking out their website and loving their product and vision, in the matter of a weekend, I took their online certification training and exam and became a Xero Certified Advisor!
Even though I had no use for my new Xero knowledge at my full-time job, and I didn't have my own clients, I set up my partner account with my own personal finances to practice in the software. This experience came in handy when I made the move to working online.
Be sure to read the job description of your ideal remote opportunities to see what software skills and experience are required (or preferred) before you invest time into learning a software you might have no immediate use for.
Step 4: Read this book
As another sign of his love of accounting, Chris Hooper sent me a copy of Remaining Relevant - The future of the accounting profession by Rob Nixon. The book was so insightful, I couldn't put it down and finished it the very same day I received it in the mail. It's a how to guide for surviving in 'accountapocolypse' (another Chris Hooper gem).
This book was probably meant for CPA firm owners, however, it's a must read if you want to work remotely. I guarantee you (100% 60-day zero money back) if you read this book and mention it in your cover letter/job application about how it's impacted your outlook on the accounting profession, you should be at the top of the talent pool.
This is the book that I recommend to all of the accountants who ask me career advice on LinkedIn. Just read it!
Step 5: Get your CPA license
Getting your CPA license is the best investment you can make. You're investing in yourself (and your future earnings). While a CPA license isn't always required for remote accounting jobs, it certainly helps to put you at the top of the pack.
The CPA license is the new standard. If you intend to reach the upper echelon as an accountant, then this isn't an option, it's a requirement. It took me seven attempts and a year and a half of studying to pass all four parts of the exam - and I thought about giving up!
But this investment has paid dividends throughout my accounting career and income trajectory. There's a great website if you need help with the CPA exam from Another71.com. Another great website for courses, workbooks and templates for your accounting career is Bob the CPA's CPATalent.com.
Step 6: Have a plan for finding a place to work remotely
Before you score a remote accounting job, you'll want to have a plan for the location where you're able to be productive and do your best work. Impress the hiring manager with your plan in advance to demonstrate trust and demonstrate that your performance won't suffer. Check out 11 Places to Work Remotely Other Than a Coffee Shop from Blake Oliver's Cloud Accounting Blog for some ideas on where to work.
Side note: Sign up for Blake's Cloud Accounting Weekly newsletter for all things cloud accounting tech, along with industry news and tons of other great resources.
The Bottom Line
This is an exciting time to be alive in the accounting profession but here's still a long way to go so all accountants can achieve their ideal lifestyle. Together, we can start creating new possibilities and let our employers know we want the option to work remotely or we're leaving them in the dust for better opportunities.
It took me years to get a remote accounting opportunity like I did with Accodex. There wasn't a guide like this for me to use so that's why I created this for you. I want to help you save time and find better opportunities online, so you can finally realize it's up to you to change the world.
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