Many accounting students go on to complete a master's degree in accounting if interested in management positions. An advanced accounting degree can prepare you for a career as a CFO (chief financial officer), director of budgeting & reporting, finance director, tax manager, lead auditor or VP of finance.
Aspiring accountants may earn an accounting degree at any number of learning institutions ranging from business colleges to specialty schools to traditional colleges and universities. Accounting degrees are also offered at all degree levels including associate, bachelors, masters, and first professional/doctorate. A number of community colleges, career schools, and specialty schools also offer certificate programs in accounting.
An associate degree or certificate in accounting is the typical path for students interested enrolling in a bachelor's degree program or obtaining an entry-level or support position in the field. An associate or certificate is not the typical path for students interested in top positions. Top companies look for talented candidates with a bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited college or university.
To get started on a career in accounting, you should enroll in an accredited business or accounting degree program. You may choose the traditional format (on-campus), blended format (online and on-campus), or you may choose an online accounting degree. If you currently work full-time or your schedule won't allow for commuting and attending classes at set times, the online accounting degree is probably the best option.
Before enrolling in any accounting degree program, whether traditional, blended, or online, you should check to make sure the program is accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (Ed.gov). The top accrediting bodies for business schools and traditional colleges and universities include:
-Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
-Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
-Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
-Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)
-The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD)
-Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (regional)
-New England Association of Schools and Colleges (regional)
-North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (regional)
-Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (regional)
-Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (regional)
-Western Association of Schools and Colleges (regional)
In addition verifying accreditation, spend some time reviewing curriculum and admissions requirements. Accounting program curriculum should mirror the curriculum of top accredited traditional programs. If you are considering an online accounting degree program, you should keep in mind that the traditional accounting curriculum is still the standard in the academic world. Accredited accounting programs will offer a variety of specialization areas including:
-Governmental or Institutional Accounting
-Information System Auditing
Required major core courses should include:
-Introductory Accounting I
-Introductory Accounting II
-Cost Accounting I
-Intermediate Accounting I
-Intermediate Accounting II
-Business Law and Ethics
Other courses will vary by specialization.
When reviewing admission requirements, check to make sure the school requests a completed admissions application, official test scores, official transcripts, recommendation letters, and an application essay. Most accredited accounting programs will not admit students to the program that have less than a 2.50 GPA. Top programs typically require no less than a 3.00 GPA.