Playing the Numbers Game: Accounting Degrees

An accounting degree will educate the student amongst others in the areas of auditing, business economics, tax law and compliance requirements. Those who earn a degree in accounting will also be expected to exhibit and develop adequate computer skills as they will be expected to work with financial database programs and spreadsheets. With plans in tow to implement stringent regulatory guidelines, the need for qualified accountants will continue to be in high demand.Accounting students wishing to earn further academic credentials can pursue accounting courses as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and Certified Internal Auditor (CIA). Students who earn an accounting degree can expect careers within private and corporate accounting, management accounting or internal auditing.

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Accounting Degree Information

Study Options at Accredited Schools

Students in the field of accounting can major in business, with a minor or emphasis in accounting, or major in accounting and apply for jobs later in that field. The best way is at an accredited university in a four-year degree program, where students will earn a Bachelor of Sciences in Accounting that will qualify them for an entry-level position in nearly every and some of the top fields of accountancy.

Earning A Degree Online

Another option is to go through an online education program, especially if students live in a remote location or have a very busy schedule. Always check with Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business that the program and school you are looking at is accredited. Also, look into community colleges where you can earn or work towards earning an associate's degree in accounting and transferring into a four-year college or university.

Master Of Science And Doctorate

A Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Accounting generally takes a full year to complete at an accredited school. A Ph.D. in Accounting, which takes about four years to finish, involves studying accounting theory and research techniques, as well as teaching fundamentals. Each degree requires coursework and a thesis, depending on the individual program. Other degree options offer a variation on accounting, such as a Ph.D. in Business Management with an emphasis in accounting.

Master Of Business Administration

Those who want to further their education can attend business school and earn a Master's of Business Administration with a strong focus in accounting or MBA in Professional Accounting. These programs incorporate business management skills with accounting theory and practice and usually offer a broader range of topics, ensuring a less specialized field of study. In order to earn an MBA, you will need to have a degree in a business-related field like accounting and take the Graduate Management Admissions Test, or GMAT to apply for business school.

Choosing A Focus In Accounting

Specialization is very important to accounting, with several major areas of study. Forensic accounting analyzes documents and establishes evidence of criminal activity, such as tax evasion or fraud. Management accounting deals with providing managers in organization with accounting information so they can make an informed business decision. Financial accounting involves preparing financial statements for people outside of the organization, such as suppliers, banks, stockholders and the government. Choosing a focus will help students find the career path as an accountant and help them determine if they need to take any kind of certification exam.

Earning an Accounting And Bookkeeping Certification

Accounting and bookkeeping certificate programs prepare accountants to work in practically any corporation, business or organization in an entry-level position. Students learn about journals and ledgers, preparing payroll documents, the theory of double entry and reconciling banking statements.

Graduating from an accounting and bookkeeping certificate program means you have learned theoretical and practical applications of recordkeeping and accounting systems for business, along with maintaining financial records of expenditures, profit and loss and payables and receivables. You will also become familiar with computer programs like database software and spreadsheets to help keep track of bookkeeping and accounting operations. Having the certification gives you an employable edge, besides learning and practicing the same skills you will need on the job.

Certified Public Accountants

Certified Public Accountants (CPA) offer general services ranging from corporations to private individuals, advising on financial plans and investments. Other responsibilities could include preparing financial reports like personal tax returns or checking up on peopleís tax returns for the IRS.

In order to become a CPA, those with a degree in accounting need to take the CPA exam, designed and graded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, as well as a separate exam on ethics. Only licensed CPAs can provide opinions on financial statements, including auditing, in most U.S. states. While CPAs often serve as business consultants to the public and corporations or associations, they also provide services such as assurance, financial accounting, merger & acquisition, financial planning and analysis, tax preparation and more.

Other Certifications For Accountants

Certified Management Accountants (CMA) and Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) exams differ in their legal status and the kind of services they provide. CMAs work with accounting management while CIAs focus on internal auditing. Both certifications require passing arduous, four-part exams. Accredited Business Accountants (ABA) specialize in small to mid-sized businesses and must take an eight-hour comprehensive exam testing financial accounting, reporting, statement preparation, taxation and business law.


Most accountants specialize in one area, but general accounting education covers all of them so students can get a better idea of what kind of work they would want to concentrate in later. No matter where students earn an accounting degree, they will need to put in a great deal of time and effort learning the material.

All accounting students will need to take specific courses, such as accounting basics, information systems, managerial accounting, economics, financial reporting, forensic accounting, payroll administration and cost accounting. Other possible coursework includes international business, regression analysis, forecasting, tax law, business law for accounting, income taxation, financial statements, mergers and acquisitions, compensation and bankruptcy.

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Accounting Degree FAQs

How Do I Become an Accountant?

Accounting is the study of measuring, analyzing and interpreting financial activity by providing assurance of financial information, as well as compiling and preparing financial records. Managers, tax authorities and investors within organizations, companies and public agencies, such as the government, use this information to allocate resources. Another way to look at accounting is as the language of business, communicating and expressing financial practices that shape groups, which makes it more than just crunching numbers.

Those who want to pursue a degree in accounting should express an interest in business and finance. Accountants can study in several fields, focusing on four areas: management accounting, public accounting, government accounting or internal auditing.

What Skills Will I Gain Through an Associate's Degree Program in Accounting?

Completion and graduation from an associate's degree program in accounting will ensure that you're ready for the next level of study, whether a bachelor's degree program or advanced certifications.

An associate's degree in accounting will not only familiarize you with field terminology, but it will also offer the foundation and groundwork pertaining to field related issues, strategies, ethics and management.

While pursuing an associate's degree online, you'll have the opportunity to enjoy an efficient form of study, review and testing. The experience will enable you to retain the necessary knowledge to enjoy success at the professional level or to pursue higher education.

Bachelor's Degree in Accounting

A bachelor's degree in accounting prepares students for rewarding careers within the field. Focusing on a wide array of introductory and advanced subjects, students in a bachelor's degree program will get a firm foundation of the expertise required for work within the field of business and accounting. Students should expect a steady dose of courses in math, statistics, business, business management, business strategy and of course, technology.

General Information About Accounting MBA

Most universities and colleges that offer master's degrees in business administration present a concentration in accounting. The degree is often pursued by those who have already entered the workforce and want to learn new skills that will enhance their career options.

Many schools have flexible programs that allow non-traditional students to finish classes at their own pace. Some schools offer full-time, part-time, distance learning and online classes to help students earn their degrees.

Many online accounting MBA programs culminate in degrees that do not indicate whether the student earned it through online instruction or traditional classes. Since students who earn online degrees receive the same training and skills as traditional students, it is not necessary for potential employers to know who earned a degree online.

Accounting MBA Curriculum

Accounting MBA programs should incorporate a curriculum designed to give you a solid foundation in business. Most of the classes focus on specific areas related to accounting, such as taxes, auditing, accounting data analysis, strategic control systems, managerial accounting, financial statement analysis and cost management. In addition, many programs provide core business studies to offer an understanding of how small and large organizations function.

What Are The Best Career Opportunities In Accounting?

Accountants have a wide range of occupations to choose from, whether it is in a specialized field of accountancy or in a general area of business. Loan officers, bank officers, underwriters, tax collectors and actuaries are all well-paying jobs. Other careers include FBI agents, commodities traders, IRS investigators, securities brokers or chief financial officers.

Some careers need further education in a different field. For example, tax lawyers need to attend law school and earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) before they can practice. FBI agents need to pass numerous tests and a rigorous training process. Depending on the career, accounting graduates will need to go through more schooling or testing.

What Can I Expect By Way Of Salary With an Accounting Degree?

Nearly every entity needs some form of accounting, whether it is non-profit, government, corporate or individual, accounting is a field with a steady growth rate and a positive job outlook. Accountants, particularly a CPA or those with a M.B.A., can earn up to $100,000. Most entry-level positions start anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000, while the median salary for an accountant is $47,000.

Accounting Student Guide

Accounting Books

Students will be required to study several texts to learn how to apply their accounting knowledge in practice. Many of these books include problems to solve, like "College Accounting" by Jeffrey Slater, "Management Accounting" by Anthony A. Atkinson and Robert S. Kaplan and "Accounting Information Systems" by Marshall B. Romney and Paul John Steinbart. Search your schoolís bookstore or library catalog to find these, or search for specific accounting books on the web.

Accounting Research

Accounting students may have to research outside sources, such as periodicals, trade journals and articles for coursework. Earning an accounting degree from a university means access to library databases, such as LexisNexis Academic, Factiva and Academic Search Premier, or EBSCO. Find free access to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and other major newspapers, as well as other publications.

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