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Can I move from accounting to SAP financial consulting?

Jon Reed, SAP career guru, discusses the options for an accountant who wants to move into SAP. Jon advises someone with a tax background how to move into SAP financials.

I am an accountant with a decent tax background. I am looking to switch careers and get into the SAP field if I can. I need your help choosing the right module to train for, and also who does the training? Are there any companies or jobs available who will hire accountants and train them for SAP?

I am not a programmer or a software engineer so I don't even know if I can handle this. All I know is that I want...

to get out of tax business, as it is just too monotonous and I don't feel like I am being challenged anymore.

I always admire people who are determined to make major career shifts because the work isn't rewarding. Life is too short, and we need to try to derive some level of fulfillment from our chosen trade. One thing I would suggest is that you do some extensive research on the SAP product. I can tell from your question that there is a lot more you can learn about SAP that will really help you plot this transition. This site, SearchSAP.com, for example, has excellent information on SAP.

One thing that you will discover as you learn more is that you don't need to be a technical guru to succeed in SAP. I have personally worked with a number of outstanding SAP financials consultants, many of who don't have heavy technical skills. Some of them are like you, and got their start in tax and accounting backgrounds. So, there are ways to transition from a functional financial background into SAP. Will it be easy? No. But the good news is that it won't cost you much money to buy a couple of excellent books on SAP financials and start getting a better view of what you're getting into. That should help you decide if you want to proceed.

Another avenue you may want to explore is that many SAP customers use a third-party tax software program called Vertex. I'd recommend researching that program and consider pursuing a career that combines SAP and Vertex installations. The more you can take advantage of your previous experience instead of running away from it, the better your changes to break into the competitive SAP market. As for training itself, my feeling is that for individual consultants there is really no substitute for training directly from SAP itself. This costs a significant amount of money, however, and there are no guarantees of placement on the other side. If you read all my previous columns -- and there are a lot of them -- you'll see a lot of answers for people who are trying to break into SAP, and if you work hard and come up with a good strategy, things might go in your favor. Good luck.

This was last published in September 2005

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