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volume- 15,10-16 July 2021

Study and Career Avenues for Commerce Students Few subjects never lose their relevance. Commerce is an evergreen subject and for many students a preferred choice. Even when a degree in engineering or technology is one of the most sought after qualifications, there is no decrease in the popularity of commerce. One major advantage with commerce is that one does not have to spend a lot for studying this subject whereas courses in engineering, medicine, architecture etc. require huge financial cost particularly at private institutions. So a commerce education is economical. But you should choose commerce only if you find the subject interesting and have an aptitude for it. Commerce can be chosen as stream of study at 10+2 level. However, if you have been a student of science, you may take admission to a B.Com course after your 12th standard. Admission to a commerce course is mostly merit based. Your score in the previous examination will be taken into account to determine your entry to the course. You are not required to go through tests like JEE or NEET needed for entry to many engineering medical and few other professional courses. Commerce is mainly concerned with trade and business activities such as sale of goods and services by producer to retailer and the end user. As a commerce student, you will be studying accounting principles, economics, and business and investment strategies. The subject will enable you to prepare balance sheets, trading accounts, profit and loss statements and various other statements depicting the financial health of a business. You will also learn about business accounting. To gain entry to a commerce based career you should have at least a B.Com degree. It takes three years to complete this degree. While a plain B.Com is offered by most of the institutes, some also offer it in varied form such as B.Com in Banking and Insurance, B.Com in Taxation and with other combinations. After becoming a commerce graduate, you have a number of options. You may go for postgraduation in Commerce (M.Com) which will take another two years. Even if you decide not to pursue M.Com, you have a number of options for further studies such as. Management: Those who are keen to grow into a management professional, a postgraduate degree/diploma in Management make complete sense. In many respects, students of commerce will find the course familiar and easy to understand. The course you choose should be full time with duration of two years and recognized by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). You will be required to choose a specialization. Though most of commerce students go for specialization in finance, considering your liking you may choose from other options like marketing, HR, information technology, operations management, agri-business management, etc. Law: To pursue a bachelor's degree in law (LLB) you should already be a graduate. Your B.Com qualification can be a gateway for a degree in law leading to a legal career. You may choose from three-year graduate degree programme conducted at colleges, universities and law schools/ universities. You may start working immediately thereafter but have options to go for LLM or specialized courses in corporate law, etc. These days integrated programmes combining commerce and law are also available with nomenclature as B.Com LLB. Such a programme takes five years to complete, saving you one year if you go for B.Com and LLB separately. In few cases exit option is available after B.Com allowing you to leave the course after completing B.Com, if you decide to do something other than LLB. Computer Applications: Many people think that only those who have studied computer or information science earlier can pursue a course in Master of Computer Applications (MCA). While commerce graduates are not eligible to apply for ME or M.Tech, MCA is a viable option for them. With knowledge of commerce and computers, they can take up a career in business computing. MCA is usually a three-year course and is offered at a number of institutes. Chartered Accountancy: This course is conducted and regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). For this course, you do not have to necessarily join any college or university. The course is a combination of self-learning, contact classes and practical training and can be joined after 10+2 and passing common proficiency test conducted by ICAI. The course is divided into Intermediate and Final. After completing Final, you may become a member of ICAI which helps in placement of its students. Bachelor in Commerce can be pursued with CA course. There is another route to become a CA. Commerce graduates/postgraduates with minimum 55% marks and other graduates/postgraduates with 60% marks may enroll with the institute for intermediate course first. After completion of this level, they have to complete practical training and articleship. By completing the final examination, the candidate can enroll as a member of ICAI and is designated as a chartered accountant. Cost Accountancy: This is similar to CA qualification, though the course content is largely different. This course is conducted and regulated by the Institute of Cost Accountants of India which was previously known as Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India. Chartered Financial Analyst : This is an international certification offered by CFA Institute based in the United States of America and is made available in our country. The CFA Program is meant to provide a strong foundation in advanced investment analysis and portfolio management skills. Graduates may enroll for this self-paced course with online format. The course is divided into three levels. Becoming a CFA may open doors for global careers mostly in private organizations. Accounting, auditing and consulting careers are open to qualified Chartered/Cost accountants and Chartered Financial Analysts. Company Secretary: Company secretaryship is also a promising career option for commerce students. The course is conducted by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI). Candidates opting for this Course after 10+2 pass in commerce or equivalent have to undergo three stages to pursue it. These stages include Foundation Programme, Executive Programme and Professional Programme. Those who join after passing graduation have to undergo only two stages—Executive and Professional. For both the groups Professional Programme can be pursued only after clearing the Executive Programme of the Company Secretaries Course. This course also works on the model of CA course. However since 2014, ICSI has started a 3 years full time course for those who are graduates with 50% marks or have passed the Foundation course. This course is conducted at Navi Mumbai and has limited seats. There are many other careers suited for commerce students Banking: As we all know, banks in India, mostly government banks, are recruiting in considerable numbers and thus there is better opportunity for jobseekers there. Banking is a major subject in the curriculum prescribed for Commerce students. Commerce graduates may apply for clerical and officers' position in banks whenever the vacancies are advertised. In many cases, private and cooperative banks prefer candidates with commerce background though it may not be specifically mentioned in the advertisement for recruitment. In addition to mainstream banking, jobs are also available in merchant banking, investment banking, etc. A banking career can be sought in public sector banks as well as private, cooperative, multinational and payment banks. Insurance: India is considered an underinsured country, thus offering immense growth opportunities for insurance business. Insurance business comprises of life and non-life insurance which is sub-divided further. Insurance business in our country is being done by both public and private sector companies which one may join as an agent, accounting/finance professional or as an actuary. To become an actuary, you need to do a course in actuarial science. Number of actuaries available being less, they carry better demand. Stockbroking: In India, the business volume at stock exchanges is increasing as more and more people are investing in shares. Sale and purchase of shares happens through Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) registered stockbrokers. You may join any such stock broking firm where your job may be dealing with clients' orders, offering them advice, equity research, etc. Such jobs are available mostly in big cities. It is also possible to work as subbroker which is possible to pursue at smaller towns and cities as well. Auditing: There are many auditing firms which employ chartered accountants and commerce graduates to carry out audit work or assist their senior auditors. Audit of accounts is mandatory for banks and other listed companies and has to be conducted through recognized audit firms. While few audit firms operate at local are regional levels, there or others which work on all India basis or globally. Teaching: Those with M.Com qualification may opt for a teaching career. You may become a teacher for secondary or higher classes and with management education institutions. Also, there are many coaching institutes which help students to prepare for courses and certification with input of commerce. Giving private tuitions is also an option. Consulting: Those with a commerce background and preferably some experience have great opportunities in consulting. There are a number of areas for consulting viz. auditing (advising companies to prepare for audit), income tax, service tax, value added tax etc. With the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST), there are more opportunities for consultants who specialize in this area. Financial planning is also an area of consulting for which you may choose to join Certified Financial Planner course. You may work as an independent consultant and also have the opportunity to join firms providing consultancy services such as Deloitte, Edelweiss, etc. Forensic accounting/ auditing: Forensic accounting or auditing is an emerging area which commerce students may join after taking specialized training. One may work with agencies working in these areas, banks and investigation bodies. Risk management: Commerce students may also plan to work as risk management professionals by obtaining required certifications. As businesses are now getting more fraught with risks, qualified risk managers are sought in more numbers to manage such risks Wealth advising: High networth people seek the services of wealth advisers. Commerce professionals are well suited for this job and after being trained/certified in the discipline, they may join firms engaged in wealth advising firms or may work independently. Places to work Based on the nature of work as described above, your place of work will be decided which may be a bank, educational institute, consulting or audit firm. Additionally with a commerce qualification, you may seek career opportunities with: Corporate Sector: In every big and medium size company, including information technology companies, there is an accounts/ finance department consisting of head of department and supporting team members. With a qualification in commerce, you may take junior positions in the team and grow with experience. Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs): There are a number of NBFCs of various sizes operating in the country, offering a host of services related to finance which require expertise of commerce professionals. Big NBFCs have branches all over the country. E-commerce companies: Big e-commerce companies handle large number of transactions every day requiring massive exercise of record maintenance, accounting and billing for which a qualification in commerce may come handy. After studying commerce you may also find work opportunities with export and import companies, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), mutual fund companies, trusts, non-governmental organizations, family businesses, etc. mainly in their account section To make an excellent career with commerce, you should have a flair for numbers as most of the time you will be dealing with figures and numbers. Also, you should have a logical and analytical bent of mind which will help you in analyzing balance sheets, profit and loss statements and other financial statistics. All these traits can be developed with sincere efforts. (The author is a career counsellor, e-mail: vj2j25@yahoo.in) Views expressed are personal Image Courtesy : Google