The primary function of an accountant in Australia is to plan and provide accounting systems and services associated to taxation and financial transactions of individuals and organizations, and give advice on record-keeping and compliance requirements.
The accounting profession in Australia is booming. For the past ten years, the number of employed professional accountants in Australia has increased from 134,000 in 2004 to over 193,000 in 2014. The projected employment level in 2019 for this profession is around 218,700. The different industries in Australia hiring accountants are very favorable for employment growth prospects.
Shortage of Accountants in Australia
There is a shortage of accountants in the Australian labor market. To solve this issue, the Australian Federal Government included accountants in the Migrant Occupations in Demand List (MODL) in September 2004. The DEWR or the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations based their decision on the assessment done on the Australian job market. In order to be included in the list, an occupation should be in widespread shortage all over Australia. According to the CPA Australia’s Director of Education, it is important for the government, colleges/universities and the professionals to work together to solve the skill shortage.
Legally Recognized Accounting Bodies in Australia
CPA Australia, the IPA (Institute of Public Accountants), and the ICAA (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia) are the three legally recognized accounting bodies in Australia. Their role is to make sure that entities with which they are involved would comply with the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) in preparing their financial reports. They are also the assigned assessing authority selected by the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship to carry out skill and qualification assessments for the purposes of the Employer Nomination Scheme and General Skilled Migration.
- CPA Australia
CPA Australia is the 6th largest accounting body recognized worldwide. It has over 150,000 members across 121 countries. The group’s international presence grows continuously in terms of influence in the profession globally and representation on international bodies. When it comes to financial reporting, corporate governance and taxation, they are considered as the leaders not just in Australia but worldwide.
Their core services for members include education, technical support, advocacy and training. Members and staff work hand in hand with international and local bodies to represent the views and problems of the profession to federal, state and territory government as well as to academia, industry, regulators, and the general public.
To become a member of CPA Australia, you must be a degree holder or a recipient of a postgraduate award recognized by the body, has demonstrated competence in the body’s prescribed foundation level knowledge and completed CPA Australia’s professional level exams successfully, as well as the Practical Experience Requirement.
In order for you to continue your membership with CPA Australia, you need to complete 120 Continuing Professional Development hours for a 3 year period with 20 CPD hours every year.
- The Institute of Public Accountants (IPA)
The IPA is a professional group for accountants recognized for their hands-on, practical skills and has a wider knowledge of the total business environment. It is a progressive, responsive accounting group committed to professional development, integrity and professionalism. It represents over 35,000 members working in government, industry, private practice, commerce and academia.
The IPA has 3 levels of membership- the Associate (AIPA), the Member (MIPA) and the Fellow (FIPA).
For Associate, a member should have an Australian Advanced Diploma of accounting or a Bachelor Degree in accounting or current BAS Agent or Tax Agent registration.
For MIPA a member should have an Australian Advanced Diploma of Accounting, two years of pre-IPA program full-time or its equivalent working experience in accounting or similar fields, was able to complete an IPA Program with 12 subjects and mentored experience program.
For FIPA, you must be a member (MIPA) for seven years or equivalent and should have ten years of experience in accounting (the last five years should be at a senior level).
- The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia (ICAA)
The ICAA in Australia is the professional accounting body that represents Chartered Accountants in Australia. It has more than 50,000 members and has 12,000 students.
In order to become a member, you need to complete the Chartered Accounting Program including study of the Graduate Diploma in Chartered Accounting and 3 years of practical experience. The program is available for accounting degree holder, those who were not able to complete the accounting degree can become a member after completing additional requirements.
A Chartered Accountant should be able to complete a total of 120 hours of CPE or Continuing Professional Education every 3 years.
Accounting Specializations and Their Wages
An ordinary Australian accountant earns an average salary of AU$54,988 every year. The average salary for a Senior Accountant is around AU$70,180 per annum. Below are some of the accounting positions available in Australia with their corresponding average salary per year.
Accounting Positions Average Salary
Assistant Accountant/Part Qualified $52,925
Analysis and Planning $86,844
Audit and Risk Accounting $87,899
Company Secretary $109,019
Cost Accounting $87,355
CPA/Chartered Accountant $83,640
Financial Accounting $82,471
Management Accounting $83,704
Other Accounting $69,815
Procurement and Inventory $75,802
Taxation Accountant $82,729
The Demand for Accountants in Australia
The need for accountancy talent extends to professional accounting companies, which are short of experienced accountants. Audit seniors remain in very high demand.
In commerce, there is also a high demand for Management Accountants with strong qualifications, hands-on Finance Managers with industry experience, experienced business partnering Analysts, Tax Accountants and Project Accountants.
As long as they keep their skills up to date, are digitally literate, and remain connected to their industry through networking, social media and their recruiter, professionals in these areas will continue to experience career success.