If you are good with numbers and analysis, there’s probably no career option better for you other than one in the lucrative accounting profession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in the accounting field are steadily growing at 10%, with the growth margin expected to increase over the next decade. This field has increasingly become one of the most sought-after professions in the U.S. job market, especially those related to technology innovations.
Earning a degree is the first stepping stone to an accounting career. Accounting degrees, such as a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree, unlock opportunities in various sectors. You can become a personal financial advisor, financial manager, chartered accountant, forensic accountant, public accountant, internal auditor, and several other accounting careers with an accounting major. Earning your accounting degrees prepares students to undertake their CPA exams, eventually becoming certified public accountants.
Accounting degrees lead to careers in many areas, from the corporate, government, public, and forensic fields. Getting an accounting degree involves learning how to analyze financial information and prepare financial statements for various interested parties, including organizational management, creditors, government agencies, and the general public.
If you are considering an accounting degree and don’t know where to start, this article is for you. Keep reading as the article explores in detail several things you need to know, including:
- Types of accounting degree programs
- What you can do with accounting degrees
- Entry-level jobs for accounting graduates
- How to get a job with an accounting degree?
Types of Accounting Degree Programs
The accounting field is quite broad, with different types of degrees. Earning any of them can open up several opportunities with corporate firms, government organizations, or private clients. Before considering the type of degree to pursue, it is vital to consider an accounting degree program suitable for your personal and career goals. Currently, accounting degrees feature coursework to gain knowledge in different accounting professions, including forensic accounting, public accounting, corporate accounting, and government accounting.
What Types of Accounting Degrees Are There?
Earning an accounting degree is the necessary start to a successful career in the accounting field. Accounting degrees give you a valuable skill set to pursue various careers in the field. Students seeking to pursue accounting degrees should possess problem-solving, excellent communication skills, and sharp analytical skills.
When choosing the right accounting degree, the long list of options can be overwhelming. Nonetheless, once you have the correct information and know what you want, finding the right accounting degree can be pretty straightforward. We will try to make this choice easier for you by exploring some of the different accounting degrees.
- Certificate in Accounting
If you are looking to learn basic accounting skills, you can consider pursuing a certificate in accounting. The accounting certificate is for individuals with no experience in the accounting field. It is also suitable for those seeking to gain professional experience before dedicating their time and resources to earning a degree. A full-time certificate in an accounting program typically takes between 12 months, while part-time programs take approximately 24 months to complete.
The accounting program certificate covers accounting basics, including the principles of accounting, payroll account management, and bookkeeping. The coursework prepares students to become clerks or bookkeepers and sit for their Certified Bookkeeper exam or other state licenses. Small accounting schools or community colleges usually offer accounting certificate programs. These programs have no specific entry requirements. However, those seeking admission must possess a high school certificate.
- Associate’s Degree in Accounting
An associate’s degree in accounting is a suitable degree program for those seeking an introduction to accounting. Students enrolling in this type of program must hold a high school diploma or GED. Most schools prefer students with a consistent GPA of 2.5 and above who excel in English and Algebra courses. The course is quite ordinary as it prevents students from taking their CPA exams.
Students enrolled in an associate’s degree program learn the basics of accounting, such as accounting principles. It is also a general requirement for students seeking advanced accounting degrees. Vocational and community colleges usually offer these degree programs. They are relatively affordable and suitable for students with financial constraints. Unlike bachelor’s degrees in accounting, the program has limited career opportunities. Nevertheless, the program makes it easier to transfer credits to a 4-year program.
- Bachelor’s Degrees in Accounting
A bachelor’s degree in accounting is the most common degree option sought out by students. Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree program are well prepared to take their CPA exam and make entry into the professional field. The program opens up several internship opportunities for students who want to gain hands-on accounting experience. Most accountants in various sectors are holders of bachelor’s degrees in accounting and above.
The coursework covers various areas, including taxes, business law, auditing, statistics, finance, among other courses. Students pursuing the program gain knowledge in financial accounting, business administration, public accounting, and forensic accounting. Students wishing to become certified public accountants must complete the program and take their CPA exams. The accounting program at the undergraduate level is offered in several institutions, either on-campus or online. Some of the common types of bachelor’s degree options include:
- Bachelor of Science/Arts in Accounting: The undergraduate program prepares students in several accounting fields such as forensic accounting, tax accountancy, public accounting, and cost accounting. This degree increases your opportunities due to the flexibility of the program and puts you in a better place to undertake your CPA exam.
- Bachelor of Science in Business Administration: The BS in Business Administration with an accounting major is always a viable option for broadening your skills and knowledge. The coursework covers several accounting topics and business laws. You will likely work in the field of business administration or other related fields.
- Bachelor of Accounting/Accountancy: The program provides students with background knowledge on accounting and helps prepare students for various accounting professions. The program helps students for advanced accounting degrees.
- Master’s Degree in Accounting
Master’s degrees in accounting are the most sought-after accounting degrees as they lead to a promising career outlook. The accounting degree offers adequate preparation for the CPA exam. Students enrolling in a master’s program must have completed their undergraduate accounting program. Earning a master’s degree in accounting with a managerial accounting specialization places you in a prime position to take managerial roles. Some of the programs include:
- Master of Science in Accounting: The degree program enables students to complete the credits necessary to become certified public accountants. The program unlocks several job opportunities and guarantees a higher salary, and the coursework includes financial analysis, business ethics, financial accounting, and auditing.
- Master of Business Administration: Master of Business Administration with an accounting major prepares accountants for accounting and management positions in the dynamic job market. Other master’s programs also include master’s in taxation.
- Ph.D. in Accounting
If you are interested in accounting research, then a Ph.D. in accounting is the most suitable degree program. This program is the highest accounting degree and takes four to five years to complete, focusing on advanced accounting concepts and accounting research. Other areas of study include organizational processes and data analysis.
What Does It Mean to Have an Accredited Accounting Degree?
Accreditation is an essential thing to keep in mind when choosing a degree program. An accredited accounting degree is a clear indication that the degree program has met all the accrediting institution’s educational standards. An accredited accounting degree also signifies that you have earned a high-quality degree which ensures professional recognition. Accounting degree programs are primarily accredited by the AACSM, the leading accreditation organization for business schools.
What Is the Difference Between a Bachelor of Arts Degree and A Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting?
In most cases, students have to choose between a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. A B.A. degree in accounting enables students to study a broader aspect of the accounting field. The accounting degree allows more elective courses such as fine arts, humanities, and foreign languages. On the other hand, a B.S. degree in accounting allows students to focus on all accounting concepts and related courses. Therefore, B.S. in accounting makes you an excellent option for employers in the field of accounting.
What Can You Do with an Accounting Degree?
Top-notch accounting degrees open up doors for various career options in different accounting areas, including public accounting, forensic accounting, and more. While most graduate students find occupations as certified accountants, there are many careers available across various sectors.
What Jobs Can You Get with an Accounting Degree?
An accounting degree right from associate degree level helps students build a strong foundation of business knowledge vital in different professional fields. Accounting degree students learn how to analyze, generate and communicate financial reports. They also gain significant knowledge in risk management, business ethics, quantitative analysis, information systems, and business strategy. Here are some of the career options that you might explore with an accounting degree:
- Financial Manager: Certified public accountants with advanced education levels such as a master’s degree are likely to pursue financial management roles. Finance managers are responsible for developing and implementing financial plans for the organization and overseeing all its accounting processes.
- Financial Analysts: Accountants practicing as financial analysts assess the company’s investment performance, including bonds and stocks. They work in collaboration with other accountants to make vital financial decisions that ensure long-term benefits.
- Management Accountants: Management accountants work with organizations to manage the financial record of the company. The commonly managed records include accounts receivable, payroll, and accounts payable. They are also responsible for asset management and financial analysis. One needs to pass their CPA exam and earn their management accounting degree to pursue this career.
- Forensic Accountant: Forensic accounting is one of the most sought-after accounting specialties today, owing to the increased cases of fraud, identity theft, and embezzlement in corporate organizations. The primary role of forensic accountants is to determine the liability of financial records. They also compute estate tax valuations for insurance companies. Law enforcement agencies might call upon a forensic accountant to act as an expert witness in court cases. One needs a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in accounting with a forensic accounting concentration.
- Personal Financial Advisor: Personal financial advisors help individuals and families make effective financial decisions. They help individuals plan for their retirements, education funds, and also personal investments. To pursue this career, one needs a bachelor’s degree in accounting, CFP certification, or a certified public accountant license.
- Chartered Accountant: Chartered accountants are professionals who take up various accounting roles such as filing corporate tax, auditing financial statements, and financial advising. To enter the professional field, one needs to earn an accounting degree, preferably a bachelor’s degree.
What Is an Estimate of How Much Accountants Make a Year?
The median salary for accountants varies considerably based on the accounting profession. While some earn higher salaries, especially those with master’s degrees, others earn lower amounts. However, the accountants generally earn satisfactory salary amounts annually. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants earn a median annual salary of $71,550. According to the Bureau, accounting clerks and bookkeeping accountants earn a median salary of $38,250, while entry-level accountants earn close to $68,000.
Where Is the Best Place to Live and Work as an Accountant?
The career outlook for accountants significantly varies depending on their working locations. Therefore, before applying for a role, you need to consider several factors, including the median salary wage, cost of living, and social amenities, as these factors influence your earnings. Here is a list of some of the places you should consider practicing in:
- New York City: New York City provides many accountants opportunities, especially those at the entry levels. Due to the high cost of living, accountants in this region earn higher salaries with a median of $69,800.
- Washington, D.C.: The capital boasts of low unemployment rates due to increased demand for professional services, making it a great job market for accountants. The average salary stands at $75,800.
- Philadelphia: Philadelphia is ranked 8th among the American cities with the highest GDPs, an indication of an ever-growing economy, leading to high salaries, with accountants earning $73,800 as the median salary.
Other regions to work in include:
- Houston ($68,200)
- Boston ($69,700)
- Denver ($69,800)
- Minneapolis ($64,300)
Entry-Level Jobs for Accounting Graduates
Accounting is a broad professional field with the responsibilities of accountants differing considerably. Accounting graduates are likely to land an array of entry-level career options with limited job responsibilities after completing their two-year degrees. Entry-level jobs such as accounting clerk, bookkeeper, public accountant, and several other careers require minimal or no working experience.
What Are the Typical Responsibilities of Entry-Level Accountants?
Before pursuing any career option, it is always important to gain in-depth knowledge of both the short-term and long-term aspects of the career, including the career outlook. Entry-level jobs are available in different accounting specialties, including public accounting, forensic accounting, and more. The responsibilities also differ significantly and mainly depend on the processes of the accounting firm. An accounting clerk, public accountant, forensic accountant, and staff accountant roles revolve around maintaining and analyzing its financial records. The responsibilities include:
- Maintaining financial records of assets and liabilities
- Assisting senior accountants in income statements and balance sheet preparation
- Reviewing the income and expenses of the organization
- Help in the preparation of regular statutory reports and other financial reports
- Constantly updating the accounts payable.
- The entry-level public accountant helps in the preparation of tax reports.
What Entry-Level Accounting Skills Should You Include in Your Resume?
Accounting firms are always on the look-out for recent graduates with diversified skills. The skills section of your resume introduces your qualifications. Accounting skills are the abilities that allow you to analyze financial information and generate financial reports effectively. Listing your resume skills indicates that you have what it takes to analyze financial data and perform other accounting-related tasks. It also demonstrates your abilities to perform jobs outside accounting.
It is important to adjust your accounting resume to the specific job you are applying for. Most entry-levels prefer a particular set of skills; hence, you should ensure your resume’s skills section demonstrates the required skills. The skills to include on your accounting resume include:
- Knowledge of standards of accounting
- Knowledge of regulatory standards related to accounting
- Data analysis
- Analytical skills
- Effective communication Problem-solving
- Proficiency in computer software
- Attentional to detail
- Strong business knowledge foundation
- Critical thinking
- Active listening skills
- Social perceptiveness
- Coordination skills
- Active learning skills
- Time management
- Systems analysis skills
How Much Do Beginner Accountants Make?
Entry-level accountants are some of the highest-paid professionals in the country. Beginner accountants start practicing after earning their bachelor’s degree in accounting or after completing their CPA exam. Certified public accountants starting salaries vary by the type of company and the location of the business. Generally, they earn a median salary of approximately $36,500. However, the pay might increase depending on the other benefits tied to the job position. Those wishing to earn higher wages must advance their education to higher levels.
How to Get a Job with an Accounting Degree?
The task of most accounting degree graduates is finding a job in a field with unlimited career options. Finding a job can be quite difficult. Therefore, it is essential for those considering to become accountants to have the right education, background skills, and experience. They should have clear goals as these are always the driving factors to a successful career.
How Can You Get a Job as an Accountant at A Major Accounting Firm?
Although there are several accounting career options that you might pursue after completing your bachelor’s degree, landing a job might be difficult. Some of the common jobs for people with this degree include forensic accountant, public accountant, internal auditor, and financial advisor. However, with the following expert advice, landing your dream accounting job can be pretty easy:
- Earn your Accounting Degree
Accounting degrees unlocks several career options in all the accounting areas, including public accounting and forensic accounting. Most accountants have at least completed a bachelor’s degree with an accounting major. To be competitive, it is vital to complete and excel in your CPA exam as most states require accountants to complete at least 150-degree credits for them to take the CPA exam.
The exam allows graduates to gain a license as a certified public accountant. Advancing your education levels to a master’s degree in accounting could give you a competitive advantage over your peers. Ensure that you excel in both your undergraduate and graduate programs as major accounting firms seek the services of graduates with high GPAs, especially for job positions as chartered accountants and financial analysts.
- Accounting Experience
Gaining significant experience while undertaking your accounting program might be quite challenging. However, this doesn’t mean it is impossible. Students seeking to gain the hands-on experience needed to get jobs in major accounting firms should complete several internship programs in various accounting firms. The internship programs enable students to learn valuable skill sets required by entry-level jobs. Graduate students can also use the internship program as an entry to a firm.
- Accounting Skills
The accounting field is highly specialized. It requires a diverse range of skills, including data analysis, communication, problem-solving, analytical, and time management. Graduate students need a vast knowledge of accounting standards and accounting research. These skills will make graduates useful in their professions.
How Do You Get an Accounting Job Without Experience?
Getting an accounting job without experience can be a daunting process. The accounting job market is one of the world’s competitive markets. Graduates have to worry about those who have been in the market before and recent graduates. Employers have significantly raised the bar for job qualifications in these harsh economic times, making it difficult for even the most brilliant accounting graduates. Nevertheless, with the following strategies, the process can be much easier.
- Networking: Your network could be your greatest asses in the accounting field. Start building a solid network while still pursuing your accounting degree, as the network could help you gain your dream job.
- Get The Right Education: Having the right education could help you get an accounting job without experience. In addition to your bachelor’s degree, pursue and earn various professional qualifications such as CIMA and ACCA to give you a competitive advantage. Gain in-depth knowledge of accounting software and principles.
- Apply for Different Accounting Positions: Several job options, such as accounting clerk and bookkeeper positions, require graduate skills. You might also opt to work as a volunteer. These positions will help you gain the experience needed to advance your career to higher jobs such as a public accountant.
Where Can You Look for Accounting Jobs?
The job search for accounting jobs can be challenging due to the professional field’s high competition levels. However, with the right online resources, finding the right job that fits your needs can be straightforward. Here are some of the online sites for finding accounting jobs:
- Indeed: This is among the top accounting job search sites in the country. The online site posts several accounting opportunities daily.
- Glassdoor: The site not only helps you find jobs, but it also helps you compare various career options, including salary details and employers’ reviews.
- IHireAccounting: This site is suitable for recent graduates seeking entry-level job opportunities.
- Financial Job Bank: Financial job bank posts nearly 5,000 accounting jobs weekly. The site allows job seekers to search for jobs based on their desired location or salaries.
Accounting degrees have become quite common in several learning institutions worldwide, mainly due to the increased job prospects linked to professional degrees. Accounting degree programs cover several aspects of accounting, including public, government, forensic and corporate accounting. These accounting majors help prepare students for various professional careers such as chartered accountants, public accountants, forensic accountants, and financial analysts.
There are various types of accounting degrees, with the lowest being a certificate in accounting, which prepares students for basic accounting roles. There are associate degrees that help prepare students for four-year accounting degree programs in addition to certificate programs. The typical accounting degree is the bachelor’s degree in accounting, which prepares students to undertake their CPA exams and become certified public accountants. Graduate accounting degrees include a master’s degree in accounting and a Ph.D. in accounting degrees. Before enrolling in any of the accounting degrees, ensure a recognized accrediting institution accredits them.
The career outlook for an accountant is quite promising. They earn a median annual salary of $71,500, much higher than several other related professions. However, this salary varies with the company and your practicing location. For instance, accountants practicing in New York City, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, and several other states earn relatively higher salaries.
Applying for a job can be challenging. Nevertheless, a good resume helps boost your chances of landing an entry-level position. Always ensure you list all your skills when putting together your resume. Some of the skills include analytical skills, problem-solving skills, data analysis, knowledge of accounting standards, and business regulations. It would be best to build your network right from college as it could turn out to be an asset in your career.