Where can accountants work? The FBI needs special agent accountants. Hollywood needs accountants. NBA teams, non-profit organizations and auction houses need accountants.
Read on for details about accountants’ salaries, types of accounting degrees and how to become an accountant online or off.
About Online Accounting Degrees
Some schools with online accounting degree programs require local internships. Others, such as Penn Foster Career School and Colorado State University, are 100% online. At Iowa Central Community College you have a choice between online and offline classes.
Here are the typical time requirements for completing accounting degrees:
- Certificate: Several months to a year
- Associate degree: 1-2 years
- Bachelor’s degree: 3-4 years
- CPA: 30 credits plus work experience (varies by state)
- Master’s degree: 1-2 years
- Doctoral degree: 3-5 years
Earning a degree online can be faster (or slower) than attending school in the traditional way. First, you might get credit for knowledge you’ve already acquired. Second, some online accounting schools let you move at your own pace. You can earn a degree very quickly or take just a class or two each semester.
Which Accounting Degree is Best for You?
A certificate in accounting is for people seeking entry-level positions. It’s meant for high school graduates and shouldn’t be confused with the CPA, which you get after college. An accounting certificate program includes English classes and other core college courses in addition to an introduction to bookkeeping. If you attend an accredited online certificate program in accounting, your certificate may be regarded as equivalent to the first two years of college study. You could apply the certificate toward a four-year degree.
A bachelor’s program in accounting involves a more in-depth look at topics such as business law and federal taxes. You’ll take core classes plus electives that will let you focus on a specialty area. Having a special focus is a great way to distinguish yourself from other students, secure an internship and be on your way to a custom-tailored career!
Following your bachelor’s, in most US states you’ll need to earn a CPA in order to professionally conduct audits and certain other accounting functions. Exceptions are Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina and Ohio. See video below about becoming a CPA.
Master’s degrees in accounting are generally geared toward people with their eyes on management positions. Students study leadership and learn advanced accounting skills. You’ll typically need a GMAT or GRE score to apply to a master’s program in any area of business. The most competitive candidates have relevant work experience and/or a bachelor’s in business or accounting.
Accountants who go on to earn doctorates are typically interested in university careers. Earning a doctorate in accounting involves taking advanced classes, conducting independent research and contributing unique knowledge to the field with a dissertation.
Becoming a CPA & Master Accountant
After you earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting, becoming a CPA can make you eligible for more job openings. Getting a CPA requires 30 hours of schooling after the bachelor’s. While you’re at it, you’d might as well earn the master’s in accounting too. Earning a master’s degree will make you a more competitive job candidate and will make you eligible for higher-level positions.
In this video Cassandra Gray of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy talks about becoming a CPA.
Accounting Salaries & Employment Outlook
Whatever specific accounting career you envision, you likely already know that accountants are typically well-paid. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that their median salary was $61,690 in mid-2010. That’s almost double the average American’s median wages.
Accountants have traditionally enjoyed excellent job stability too, and recent widespread economic woes haven’t hurt the profession. The demand for competent accountants has actually increased in the wake of several major bookkeeping scandals. In 2010 the US government projected that accountants’ job opportunities would increase by 16% by 2020. That’s faster than the growth projected for most other occupations.