It is evident that you have an interest in having a career in accounting, If you're good with numbers, organization, and detail, there's probably no more stable and lucrative career out there (not one that's legal).
Jobs for accountants are growing at a steady 10% over the next decade according to the Bureau of statistics and many specialties – especially those related to emerging technology – are growing even more quickly.
There are different types of accounting degrees and once you start making some research on how to start your accountancy career then you will find out that there are many different career opportunities at many different education levels. Each type of accounting degree can take you in different directions with your future ambitions.
For the purpose of helping you understand better, first, let us understand the types of accounting degrees.
Types Of Accounting Degree Programs
What kind of accounting degrees are there?
The types of accounting degree programs are:
- Certificate or Diploma in Accounting - 1/2 year
- Associate's Degree in Accounting - 2 years
- Bachelor's Degree in Accounting - 4 years
- Master's Degree in Accounting - 1-2 years
- MBA in Accounting Degree - 1-2 years
- PHD or DBA in Accounting Degree - 1-5 years
1. Certificate Or Diploma In Accounting
Many accounting professionals start their career with a short certificate or diploma program. In general, most diploma programs are completed in about one year, they also cover the basics of accounting (accounting for beginners), bookkeeping, payroll account, or some other particular job.
Although, they are still the basics of accounting but they are enough to qualify you for a job as a bookkeeper or clerk in an organization and you will earn decent salary, but this lack the general education requirements you would need to get admitted to do a 4-year accounting course in college. Certificate programs are shorter, and they require just three or four courses which are the bare basics required to start a job.
Often time, students can earn these entry-level qualification from a college or small accounting school near them. Although a bookkeeper certificate or diploma won't take you near a college degree in accounting, it's ideal for people who are seeking to learn the foundation of accounting, and to get licenses and credentials like sitting for the Certified Bookkeeper examinations.
2. Associate's Degree In Accounting
After the certificate and diploma, the next step up is an associate's degree in accounting. Associate in accounting is a full, 2-year associate's degree (which is usually 60 credit hours). Not only will it give students the basic knowledge of accounting, it will also give them the general education requirements necessary to transfer to a 4-year college course in accounting. Associate's degree in accounting is offered by most local colleges and technical schools. Currently, many institutions across the world are now offering fully online accounting associate's degrees. Some of them are quite affordable.
So, is a 2 year accounting degree worth it? Yes, a 2 year accounting degree is worth it. Some accounting careers opportunities available for Associates degree in accounting include accountant, bookkeeper, auditing clerk, and so on. With an associate program in accounting, you will earn higher than the employees with only a high school education.
While it's limited in terms of opportunities, one of the most important benefit of an associate's degree over a faster and cheaper diploma or certificate is the ability to transfer credits to a 4-year program in accountancy. Majority of the public community colleges will have an agreements with the colleges and universities in the area to make transferring to a bachelor's program faster and easier for their students.
3. Bachelors In Accounting
This is one of the most popular among the types of accounting degrees. A bachelor's degree is best for accounting. In order to start your career as a certified public accountant (CPA) or an associate chartered accountant (ACA), the minimum requirement is a bachelor's degree in accounting. It will take atleast 120 credit hours to complete a full 4-year bachelor program in accountancy, buy if you already bagged an associate's degree, you are covered from the first 60. Your classes will focus on only accounting, business, finance, math, and statistics once the general education courses are out of the way. Nowadays, online bachelor's degrees in accounting and degree completion programs have become extremely very common. Working class people can decide to take online courses as a result of lack of time, some want to advance their careers but they don't want to resign from their current job.
Apart from qualifying for a CPA license, most bachelor's programs today offer specializations in accounting fields that are extremely in demand, examples of such field are forensic accounting, cost accounting, accounting information systems, and actuarial science, etc. Due to the high demand for trained, qualified accountants in the labour market, colleges and universities are offering very cheap and affordable online accounting bachelor's degrees, in order to meet up with the job market demand from students and employers.
Note: If want to start a new career as an accountant but you already have a bachelor's degree in another field, you don't have to worry because there are several online undergraduate certificate programs in accounting that can make your new found career easier and get you up to speed without a whole new degree.
4. Masters In Accounting
A Master's in Accounting (MAcc) degree is the next level of accounting education after bachelor's in accounting, and this type of accounting degree is the last stop for most professionals. Masters in accounting requires an extra 1-2 years beyond a bachelor's degree. Students in a master's program will learn advanced accounting skills, practice and theory, they will also focus in a particular specialization in accounting such as forensic accounting, auditing, management accounting or taxation accounting. Graduates of masters in accounting can be considered a specialist with their area of concentration, which will open the doors to higher positions within a business organization, a corporation, or government agency.
As the job market has become more competitive, the demand for masters in accounting is very high and professionals are looking for a credential to set them apart from the competition in the job market. Due to this, colleges and universities are adding online master's degrees in accounting, often requiring no residency or time on campus at all. These can be found an many forms, such as accelerated accounting master's programs, and to entice students, some schools keep their online programs as affordable as possible.
Note: As with the bachelor's certificate, online accounting master's certificates have become quite common for working professionals who already have a degree, but want to add an accountancy emphasis.
5. MBA In Accounting
Nowadays, many accountants would choose a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in accounting, rather than a MAcc degree (Masters in accounting). This is because the MBA, lays more emphasis on management along with advanced skills in accounting, which will give professionals more preparation for leadership positions unlike the MAcc.
Either degree will provide the knowledge to be a great accountant, but for accountants who are considering moving up into management, or going on their own as an entrepreneur, the enhanced business expertise will make a difference in your success. The MBA is one of the most common graduate degree programs, so it's easy to find convenient, affordable online MBA programs in accounting, finance, and related specializations.
6. PHD OR DBA In Accounting
Doctorate programs in accounting are not very common until recent years, the blame can be pinned on the job market. Since bachelor's degree is the new standard, professionals have to get a master's degree instead of PhD to stand out; The only way to go is up when everyone has a master's degree. Doctor of Business Administration and the PhD are the two main doctoral degrees in accounting. The two degrees are terminal degrees, both take a good deal of hard work (as little as one year, but as many as 4 to 5 years), and both serious accomplishments.
The DBA is a professional (rather than academic) degree, meaning it is intended for people who want to actually work in the field, as opposed to research or teaching. The DBA will focus more on leadership and using accounting knowledge and expertise in an administrative capacity, such as C-level executives or vice presidents. The PhD is for accountants who want to teach accounting at the college level, or work in research, so it will focus more heavily on research, writing, and teaching skills. Either degree may be appropriate if you're interested in working as a corporate consultant, entrepreneur.
Which of the listed types of accounting degrees do you have? How has it been beneficial to your career?