What Will I Learn in an Accounting Program?
If you are attending college in the United States, accounting programs most likely take place in a school's business division. Attending an accounting program helps set up students for success in the financial realm of business. Throughout their accounting coursework, students typically develop strong math and analytical skills, an aptitude for problem-solving and critical thinking, strict attention to detail, organizational and planning techniques, and familiarity with popular finance and accounting software. For example, programs typically cover Microsoft Office Suite and QuickBooks in great detail. Lastly, students should gain some knowledge about Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), which includes concepts such as consistency, prudence, and continuity, to name a few.
In general, accountants analyze financial statements in order to make the best decisions possible for their clients and employees. Therefore, students studying accounting need to learn about the various tax laws, especially those associated with the IRS. Accounting graduates must not only know what to do when they encounter problems with financial decisions made in the past, but they also need to help employees plan for their financial futures. This could involve buying real estate or investing in retirement, for example.
Jobs For Accounting Majors
Within the accounting field, students can choose from many different jobs once they graduate. Whether graduates decide to work in large corporations, non-profits, or small businesses, below are some potential career options available to accounting majors. Salary and job outlook data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Accountants and Auditors
An accountant is responsible for keeping and interpreting financial records, which may include ensuring the accuracy of financial documents, complying with relevant laws and regulations, preparing financial reports, preparing tax returns, and ensuring that taxes are paid properly and on time. Being an accounting professional may also involve strategizing in order to help the organization run efficiently, reduce costs, and maximize profit. A bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field is typically required. It also helps to have a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license.
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks
These three clerks are distinct, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lumps them together into a single category. Each type of clerk is an integral part of small businesses and non-profits. Overall, this transactional and administrative role handles the day-to-day tasks of recording financial transactions, including purchases, receipts, sales, and payments. QuickBooks and Nexonia are common software that those in these roles utilize frequently. Typically, some postsecondary education is required, but most financial accounting skills can be learned in the field.
A budget analyst helps organizations develop their budget and track spending, so they can estimate future financial wellness. They achieve this by working closely with high-level managers to develop budget reports as well as consistently monitoring an organization's overhead costs to keep them within their proposed budget. Applicants hoping to obtain this role usually need a bachelor's degree to be eligible.
A financial analyst works with clients to help them make sound financial decisions. Often, they are responsible for a variety of research tasks to inform investment strategy and make investment decisions for their company or clients. The role is data-intensive, and it not only requires strong mathematical and analytical skills but also a bachelor's degree.
A financial clerk is essential if you are running a large business. Within this broad title are many types of clerks, including those that specialize in billing and posting, brokerage, credit authorization, insurance claims, payroll processing, and more. In general, entering this career requires at least a high school diploma/GED. However, some employers prefer applicants with some college education, such as brokerage clerks which earn $54,000 — a higher annual median salary than the average clerk.
Financial managers look at the big picture in terms of an organization's financial operations. In other words, they are responsible for the financial health of an organization. They create accurate financial data analyses and advise senior management on profit-maximizing ideas to ensure long-term success. Some of the job responsibilities also involve reviewing financial reports, monitoring accounts, and preparing financial forecasts. A bachelor’s degree is required for an entry-level finance manager position.
Personal Financial Advisors
A personal financial advisor, also known as a business or financial consultant, assists organizations and individuals with their budgets. For example, they may provide insight and recommendations to help clients reach their goals and solve problems. Typically, they offer a range of financial services and decisions, including budgeting, saving for big purchases, and retirement planning. Although a bachelor's degree is often required to apply, a master's degree and certification would improve a person's likelihood of landing this position.
Is an Accounting Degree a Good Fit for Me?
An accounting major helps open the door to various sectors of the financial world. An online accounting degree can lead to a career in almost any industry you can think of. Armed with accounting skills, you are able to work in many different environments using the accounting skills you gained. It may therefore be beneficial to someone who desires a sense of flexibility in their career goals and planning. Your job role could range from a development manager at a non-profit to a payroll clerk at an arts organization or even an accountant at a Fortune 500 company. Although there are many career paths in this field, the competition for accounting jobs can be steep and competitive.
According to CareerExplorer, accountants are among the bottom 6% of all careers in terms of job satisfaction. In this survey, most accountants feel relatively positive about their salary and working environment, but this low level of job happiness may be due to a number of other reasons:
The repetitive nature of the work
If you do not enjoy doing the same kind of work day in and day out, then working in accounting may not be a suitable fit.
During tax season, accountants and those in the financial sector of businesses are extremely busy and working overtime to get everyone’s taxes filed. If you do not thrive from working under pressure or are unwilling to work overtime, then you may not enjoy accounting.
If you are poorly skilled at math or unwilling to get help to upgrade your analytical expertise, an accounting degree may not be a worthwhile endeavor.
You should also consider whether you would enjoy helping clients and fellow employees make significant financial decisions that could impact their organization. This is a substantial responsibility, so you should consider your personality, talents, and personal circumstances before pursuing an accounting degree.
Explore the best online bachelor's in accounting degrees and learn more about certifications, licensure, and answers to frequently asked questions.