Survey: How do graduates perceive the threat of automation to accounting careers?

Recent research into the jobs that may be most at risk of being made obsolete by machines in the next two decades made uncomfortable reading for accountants. One study compiled by researchers at Oxford University and Deloitte - and widely publicised by the BBC - stated that two of the ten jobs most at risk of being made redundant were in the accounting sector: Financial Accounts Manager (in position 4) and Book-Keeper (in position 8).

So we thought we'd ask those registered members of WikiJob who've indicated that they are interested in pursuing a career in accounting what their thoughts were on this issue. Are they concerned, and is this issue making them consider alternative career paths where the automation threat is less significant?

First we asked what areas of accounting were of most interest to our graduates:


Financial and Management Accounting the most popular choices.

Over half of the survey group indicated that they were looking to pursue a career in these two areas. Audit was also a popular choice; tax far less so.


Financial and Management Accounting the most popular career choices


Three-quarters of graduates interested in accounting careers are concerned about the automation threat.

Around a third of those polled (32%) say they are very concerned that automation could make their preferred accounting career path obsolete within two decades. A further 40% are concerned about the risk automation poses.


Three-quarters of graduates interested in accounting careers are concerned about the automation threat


Bookkeeping was overwhelmingly the job function considered most at threat.

Over 50% of those polled voiced that bookkeeping carried the greatest long-term risk as a future career because of its potential to be automated, a result that echoes other recent surveys, including the one done by Oxford University and Deloitte.


Over 50% of accounting graduates fear bookkeeping will be automated


Fewer than half of graduates looking for a career in accounting believe it is a good career choice.

This was an intriguing result, given that the audience polled had previously indicated to WikiJob that accounting, auditing and finance was one of their preferred career paths. Out of that group, only 48% backed accounting as a good career choice, with over a third saying they were unsure.


Fewer than half of graduates looking for a career in accounting believe it is a good career choice


Two-thirds of graduates interested in accountancy are considering a career in an alternative industry.

Only a third of those polled said that they weren't looking at the possibility of working in a different industry to accounting, suggesting that not many are backing accountancy as a safe long-term career choice.


Two-thirds of graduates interested in accountancy are considering a career in an alternative industry


Management consulting is the preferred alternative industry for those considering a career in accounting.

Over a third of those surveyed said consulting was their most likely career choice as an alternative to accounting. Very few showed any interest in the public sector as an alternative.


Management consulting is the preferred alternative industry for those considering a career in accounting