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Accounting for your future

Although a large number of accounting courses are available in Sri Lanka, businesses say a degree in accounting is just not enough. Companies are asking for practical work experience and even non-accounting skills such as good English and interpersonal skills. If you have the whole package however, you are in for a head start in one of the best paying jobs in Sri Lanka with job opportunities in all sectors of the economy.

Industry sources say a degree holder in accountancy is not considered an accountant. To call yourself an accountant, you need a professional qualification. Many such qualifications are now available in Sri Lanka for young people to choose from, and many are internationally accepted, say senior accountants.

"A professional qualification makes you more employable because it involves a practical training element. A university degree on its own is considered only an academic qualification. Therefore, most degree holders, that wish to work as accountants, also follow a professional course, to complement their academic education," said the President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka, Mr Sujeewa Rajapakse.

These days however, companies are looking for even more than practical work experience.

"It is very important that as accountants, young people develop other skills, such as good communication skills and good interpersonal skills. This is because, as an accountant of a company, you will have to advice the board and management on finances. You must also not limit yourself to accounting. You need to develop other corporate skills, like general management skills and human resource management skills," said Mr Rajapakse.

Accountants say the demand for skilled and qualified accountants is growing in Sri Lanka, particularly with increased economic activity since the end of the conflict. Foreign employment options are also available for professional accountants. As a result, the job category of professionally qualified accounts, have a low unemployment rate. The Institute of Chartered Accountants, for instance, maintains they have zero unemployment among their fully qualified graduates.

Senior accountants say that while pay packages and perks differ according to different companies, a professionally qualified accountant can generally command a minimum starting salary of Rs 40,000 and many companies will also throw in a travelling allowance of about Rs 25,000 on top of the monthly salary. An experienced professional accountant can easily command a salary of Rs 60,000 and above, with perks, such as a company maintained car. Senior accountants point out that many multinationals have much better pay packages and perks than local companies.

However, not everyone can make it into a multinational - but no need to fret. If you impress the recruitment panel with your good communications and interpersonal skills, on top of your professional qualifications, your chances of negotiating a higher pay package is also much higher.

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