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Should I Earn an Accounting Degree?

Accounting Degree Overview


Smiling woman with financial paperwork
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What Is an Accounting Degree?
An accounting degree is a degree awarded to students who have completed an accounting degree program at a college or university.

Types of Accounting Degrees
There are three basic types of accounting degrees that can be earned:
  • Associate Degree
  • Bachelor Degree
  • Master's Degree
An associate degree in accounting takes approximately two years to complete. A bachelor degree in accounting can usually be earned in four years. And a master's degree in accounting can be earned in two years or less after completing a bachelor's program.

A bachelor's degree is the most common requirement in the field. The federal government, as well as many public and private firms, requires applicants to have at least a bachelor's degree to be considered for most entry-level positions. Some organizations also require special certifications or licenses, such as the Certified Public Accountant designation.

What Can I Do with an Accounting Degree?
Business majors who earn an accounting degree often go on to work as accountants. There are four basic types of accounting professionals:
  • Public Accountants - These accountants may work for non-profit organizations, for-profit organizations, governments, or individuals. Public accountants typically perform accounting, auditing, and tax work. However, they may also provide advice, consulting, or auditing services to their clients.
  • Management Accountants - Sometimes known as private or cost accountants, management accountants record and analyze financial information for their employers. Management accountants sometimes specialize in a particular area, such as cost accounting, financial analysis, or planning and budgeting.
  • Government Accountants - Government accountants can work for federal, state, or local governments. They often maintain revenue and expenditure records. Those who work for the federal government may serve as agents for the Internal Revenue Service. Jobs are also available in areas of financial management, administration, and budget analysis.
  • Internal Auditors - These specialized accountants examine records for the firms they work for to ferret out waste or fraud. They also review operations for efficiency, accuracy, and effectiveness.
Accountants who have advanced degrees, such as a master's degree, are often eligible for more advanced career positions than accountants with an associate or bachelor degree. Advanced positions may include supervisor, manager, controller, chief financial officers, or partner. Many experienced accountants also choose to open their own accounting firm.

Learn More about Earning an Accounting Degree
  • Accounting Degree Options - This free video from DegreeDirectory explores different degree options in accounting.
  • Online Accounting Degree - This site offers a comprehensive guide to earning an online accounting degree, information on types of accounting jobs, and salaries for accountants.
  • Accountant Salary Survey - This survey from PayScale shows the median salary for accountants based on years of experience.

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