Is an Accounting Degree Right for You?

An accounting degree is a good fit for those who want to play a critical role in managing accurate financial information and have the opportunity to work in a variety of settings, including large corporations, small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and even for individuals.

While accounting is typically associated with a stiff white collars and pocket protectors, Franklin University points out that accountants are increasingly being consulted to contribute to business strategy, financial operations, and to effectively communicate complex financial information in a way that makes sense to stakeholders in the company. An online bachelor’s degree in accounting can also prepare you for a good-paying, stable career, with 16% job growth projected between 2010 and 2020.

Advice for Earning Your Accounting Degree Online

Many students pursue online accounting degrees in hopes of eventually becoming a CPA, a credential that often leads to the best job prospects in accounting. However, states have strict educational and testing requirements for CPA certification and not all online programs will meet your state’s requirements.

If you plan on becoming a CPA, it is vital that you enroll in an online accounting program that has been approved by your state’s board of accountancy. We also recommend enrolling in online accounting degree programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The AACSB is best known for accrediting top business schools, but also provides specialized accreditation for accounting programs.

Required Courses

Online accounting degree programs typically include a general business core, including courses in finance, management, marketing, economics, statistics, and business law. A major in accounting will go beyond accounting and taxation fundamentals to include courses such as the following:

  • Accounting Information Systems
  • Financial Reporting
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Governmental and Nonprofit Accounting
  • Cost Management and Strategic Analysis

Common Career Paths

Some potential careers for those with a bachelor’s degree in accounting include:

Accountants and Auditors

  • Expected Growth: 16 %
  • Average Annual Salary: $61,690

Accountants keep accurate financial records, help individuals and organizations prepare and file taxes, and make recommendations on how accounting systems can be more efficient, among many other tasks. Auditors are skilled at looking over an organization’s financial records and picking up on any financial mismanagement, fraud, or waste in a company, and to make sure the company is living up to its own ethical standards and following its established financial procedures.

The above salary and employment growth figures were gathered from the BLS, and represent median incomes; actual salaries can vary greatly based on your experience, size and type of employer, education level, certifications, and other factors.

Budget Analysts

  • Expected Growth: 10 %
  • Average Annual Salary: $68,200

Budget analysts keep a sharp eye on an organization’s spending and help organizations get their finances in shape. These professionals often work on financial teams and are in charge of reviewing each department’s budget proposals to determine if the requests are appropriate and justifiable. They may also perform cost-benefit analyses to explore the potential benefits or repercussions of allocating finances in various ways. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Financial Analysts

  • Expected Growth: 23 %
  • Average Annual Salary: $74,350

Financial analysts help companies make smart investment decisions by looking over how an organization’s stocks, bonds, and other portfolio components have performed in the past and recommending new investment opportunities. Common employers of financial analysts include: pension funds, hedge funds, security firms, and insurance companies, who bring them on to help them maximize the return on their investments.

Financial analysts also identify promising business trends and provide valuations of a company by estimating future earnings. A bachelor’s degree in accounting or a relevant business field is typically required, although an MBA may be required for certain positions, the BLS explained. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Tax Examiners, Tax Collectors, and Revenue Agents

  • Expected Growth: 7%
  • Average Annual Salary: $49,360

Tax examiners and collectors work on behalf of local, state, and federal governments to make sure individuals and business pay their taxes. Some of their responsibilities include auditing people’s tax documents to make sure any tax credits or deductions are listed are lawful, requesting additional documentation from people who can’t support the information listed on tax documents, and contacting taxpayers if they have underpaid or overpaid on their taxes.

A bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related discipline is most appropriate for employment in this profession, although experience is also important, the BLS explains. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Financial Examiners

  • Expected Growth: 27%
  • Average Annual Salary: $74,940

Financial examiners monitor banks and other financial institutions to make sure they are operating lawfully and remain in good financial shape. They typically either evaluate the amount of risk a bank takes on through the loans it issues to make sure banks maintain their solvency, or work on the consumer side to make sure that loans aren’t being issued in a predatory or discriminatory manner.

A bachelor’s degree that includes accounting course work is the most common educational requirement, according to the BLS. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

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