Bookkeeping Degree: A Great Choice for the Numbers Person

Bookkeepers typically keep the financial records for an organization. They work in offices and use a variety of office equipment and computer programs. They record financial transactions, produce financial reports and ensure the accuracy of records. Bookkeepers keep records of cash expenditures and receipts for their employer, and report discrepancies or issues.

Bookkeepers typically work alone or in small groups that share common tasks. You must be good with math and have excellent skills with one or more spreadsheet programs. Employers typically want basic computer skills but they will generally train you in the specific accounting software they use.

In some companies, bookkeepers take on responsibility for accounts payable, which entails disbursing funds to suppliers. Accounts receivable work involves receiving funds from customers. Both of these specialized branches may require frequent communication with people outside the employer’s organization.

Bookkeeping Degree Information

For degrees or certificates in bookkeeping, you will be required to take courses in accounting and general business concepts. You may choose to specialize in cost accounting, which focuses on determining and allocating the cost of products, or taxation, which will require special classes in taxation. There are other specializations as well, such as accounting systems or international accounting.

Employers will usually hire entry level bookkeepers with a certificate in bookkeeping or accounting. To advance in the field, you will require more advanced education, up to and including a master’s degree. Most high-level bookkeepers have at least an Associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Online Bookkeeping Curriculum

You may be required to take courses in accounting, intermediate accounting and advanced accounting, depending on the level of the degree program you are pursuing. You will also take courses in auditing, business concepts, taxation, and computer concepts. You may include management courses in advanced degree programs

Earning a Degree Online

Online education is a great choice if you have already started your career and want to branch out, or if you live very far away from schools offering the program you need. Before you commit to a program, just make sure that the school you are considering is accredited.

Bachelor’s

A bachelor’s degree will prepare you for up to mid-management level positions in many organizations. The Bachelor’s degree program will require in-depth accounting courses, which may include both manual and computerized accounting techniques. You will also take courses in general business concepts and management techniques. You may specialize by choosing electives in an area of interest, such as banking or taxation.

Master’s

An MBA is a good choice for a Master’s degree for someone interested in Bookkeeping and accounting as a career. A Master’s level program will require deeper dives into many of the topics you learned in your bachelor’s program. You will also be introduced to more economics and statistical analysis concepts. There will be a number of significant group and individual projects required to earn your MBA.

Further Education

Many schools offer preparation programs for the CPA exam. CPAs are the highest level of accounting and booking certification you can achieve. Many companies prefer to hire CPAs for high-level positions in their financial organizations.

Coursework

Be prepared to take a lot of accounting courses. Typically, these courses require practice at maintaining financial records both manually and using computer programs. You should also take general business and management courses if you want to achieve higher level positions in your career. These courses will also be helpful if you choose to open your own bookkeeping or auditing firm.

Typically the coursework for a book keeping degree program will include elements of the following:

  • Financial Reporting
  • Payroll Administration
  • Cost Accounting
  • Information Systems
  • Book keeping basics
  • Managerial book keeping / Accounting

Career Opportunities

The US Bureau of labor Statistics predicts that opportunities for bookkeepers will grown at about 14 percent per year, which is about average. However, as financial regulations and oversight have become stricter in the last few years, demand for bookkeepers has increased. As the trend toward stricter government controls continues, demand will continue to rise, suggesting excellent career prospects for anyone with this skill.

Bookkeepers work for banks and government agencies, and for companies and organizations of all types. You may also choose to work for a CPA or auditing firm, working on the books for many clients.

For those interested in self-employment, there is a high demand for people to maintain companies’ accounting records on a periodic or contract basis. There may be additional licensing requirements in your state.

Depending on their specialization, book keepers can choose to gain their certification from any number of associations. They include:

  • Accredited Business Accountants (ABA) – which prepares one for work with small to mid-sized businesses.
  • Certified Management Accountants (CMA)
  • Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

Earning Potential

According to US Government Bureau of Labor Statistics salary surveys, bookkeepers can earn between $21,000 and $53,000 per year. The highest salaries are found in government agencies, such as the Central Banking Authority or the US Postal Service, followed by the motion picture industry. Not surprisingly, the highest wages are found in the District of Columbia and California, although there are opportunities for people with this skill in every location and every industry.

Bookkeeping FAQ

What type of jobs can I expect with a bookkeeping degree?

Alternatively referred to as an accounting or auditing degree, earning a book keeping degree prepares one for a career as an accountant across a variety of industries and sectors overseeing financial records. Earning an associate’s degree in book keeping is enough to get an entry level book keeping job and can be transferred into a four year university course. For those looking to develop and assume managerial positions, a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) incorporates elements of management and leadership skills as well as accounting theory and practice.

How long does it take to earn a degree in bookkeeping?

You can earn a certificate in as little as 3 to 6 months. Associates degrees will typically require two years, and a Bachelor’s will require four years. MBA programs are 18 to 36 months long. You may be able to shorten these time frames by taking courses during the summer or other semester breaks. Online courses allow you to achieve your degree in the timeframe that works for you since you can usually set your own course load.

Where are the highest paying bookkeeping jobs?

Bookkeepers are needed everywhere, but the highest pay for those without a bachelor’s or master’s degree is found in government agencies. Those high-paying government jobs are clustered in Washington, DC. There are also well-paying government and private sector jobs located in every state.

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