By DeVry University
Because the need to track finances and expenditures is universal across the spectrum of business, an accounting degree can be applied in many ways. So, what can you do with an accounting degree?
An accounting degree can prepare you with a variety of skills that are used across many different professions within the financial service industry as well as many other fields. Depending on their needs, large and small businesses, nonprofit organizations and government agencies may choose to staff an accounting department, employ a single accountant or outsource this function to a bookkeeping or accounting firm, giving you a wide array of potential career paths and work environments to consider.
What You Will Learn in an Accounting Degree Programs
In an accounting degree program, like a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting for example, you’ll have the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of financial accounting and build skills that can be applied in industries like management, finance, entertainment, operations management, forensic accounting and more. The degree program you choose should help you gain a strong foundation in accounting and economics as well as a thorough understanding of business administration, technology, management and government laws and regulations. Topics covered will likely include profit and loss, asset management, liabilities and cash flow management.
Accounting degree jobs are differentiated by their skill and daily responsibilities. Here are a few examples of some different accounting roles and what they might entail, although bear in mind that some many positions may require varying levels of education, specific training, professional certifications or hours of experience:
- Senior Accountant: With in-depth knowledge of company practices and accounting principles, senior accountants report costs, productivity, margins and expenditures and are likely to handle most of the financial responsibilities of a mid-sized company.
- Tax Accountant: As the title implies, tax accountants operate in the area of taxation, helping businesses to comply with the Internal Revenue Code when tax documents are filed. They also help with financial planning from a tax perspective, understanding and interpreting the implications of changes to the tax code and helping businesses minimize their tax liabilities.
- Revenue Accountant: Similar to a senior accountant, the revenue accountant handles the checks and balances of an organization’s revenues, paying close attention to payable and receivable accounts and keeping accurate financial records. He or she will typically work with the company’s clients to be sure payments are received on time and work internally to devise strategies to improve the company’s cash flow and profitability.
- Corporate Accountant: Corporate accountants manage financial and accounting-related tasks such as creating financial statements and fiscal reports. They work with a company’s various department heads to determine departmental expenses. Monitoring cash flow and expenditures, they provide a detailed overview of revenue and expenses for decision making by senior management.
- Property Accountant: Handling the financial aspect of private, commercial and industrial real estate, property accountants perform real estate-related accounting, asset management and bookkeeping duties. This may include managing, preparing or maintaining records of the company’s assets, taxes, budgeting, payroll, monthly expenses and financial reports.
Other Accounting Degree Avenues
Looking for other ways in which you might plan to put your accounting degree to work? According to Indeed, there is a wide range of accounting degree jobs that do not have “accountant” in their title. Here are just a few:
- Actuary: In organizations of any size or type, actuaries make plans to mitigate financial risk and prevent financial loss. They make sure the facts, figures and data they work with are accurate using mathematical calculations and statistics.
- Financial advisor: Financial advisors evaluate their clients’ finances and use that data to create financial goals for things like insurance, investments, mortgages and taxes that can help stabilize their clients’ futures.
- Treasury analyst: A treasury analyst manages everything about a company’s financial moves, including how they invest, save and spend their capital. Often working with other accountants, they will process taxes or track investment income to help keep the company stable.
- Comptroller: Comptrollers manage audits and help finance teams figure out and implement their strategy. Comptrollers may also perform day-to-day tasks such as organizing payroll, drawing up reports or overseeing loan transactions.
- Payroll manager: Payroll managers take care of paying a company’s employees and keep track of any new hires, terminations or personnel changes that affect payroll.
- Budget analyst: Budget analysts keep companies on track with their financial goals and help manage their budget. They may compose and review proposals and suggest revisions that may lead to the reallocation of company funds.
- Internal Auditor: Part accountant and part detective, auditors examine financial statements for accuracy and compliance with government regulations.
According to CareerExplorer.com, there are several areas of specialty for auditors. Public auditors work with documents that clients are required by law to disclose or provide to potential investors. Forensic auditors combine knowledge of accounting, finance and law with investigative techniques to determine if a financial or business activity is legal. Internal auditors check for mismanagement of company funds and identify ways to find and eliminate waste and fraud. Investors and government agencies rely on external auditors to draw up unbiased and independent reports.
CPA and Other Certifications
Among the certifications that accounting professionals use to enhance their careers and grow their skill sets, the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) is widely recognized and is the highest-level accounting credential you can earn in the United States. The CPA exam is conducted by the AICPA (American Institute of CPAs) and licensure is issued by one of the 55 U.S. states or territories, all of which are members of the NASBA (National Association of the State Boards of Accountancy).
Many companies require this certification for managerial positions. State regulations govern how much education or work experience you’ll need before pursuing a CPA license, as well as the amount of continuing professional education that is required to maintain it.
At DeVry, our online Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting program includes elements of Becker Professional Education’s CPA Exam prep content, exposing you to key concepts related to the CPA exam while earning your degree.1
Other certifications applying to specialties in the accounting profession which you may choose to consider include:
- Certified Financial Analyst (CFA)
- Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
- Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
- Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)
- Enrolled Agent (EA)
- Financial Services Audit Certificate (FSAC)
Do I Need to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting?
That depends on the career path you choose. If you want to become a CPA, it’s important to know that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, all state boards require 150 credit hours of post-secondary education in order to sit for the CPA exam. This is typically more credit hours than what you’d earn in a bachelor’s degree program, so oftentimes pursuing an MBA or master’s degree is a good option to consider.
Accounting-related jobs such as Accounting Clerk, Accounting Assistant, Bookkeeper and Auditing Clerk typically do not require you to be a CPA, but may also have their own specific requirements.
What accounting certificates are there?
As described above, the CPA is a widely known certification in this field, and many employers will require you to obtain this certification to work as an accountant. Other, more specialized certifications include the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA).
Is an accounting degree worth it?
The best way to answer that question is to evaluate your own professional and education goals. A more objective approach is to take a look at the occupational outlook for accounting-related employment. If you’re asking whether this profession is one that will be in demand in the next several years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2031 on a national level.2 About 136,400 openings for accountants and auditors are projected each year, on average, over the decade.
Is accounting a good career?
The question is, would accounting be a good career for you? There is no singular path to any career. If you consider yourself a problem solver, possess good math skills and have a natural desire to help organizations and individuals succeed financially, then it’s likely that you would find a career in accounting to be a good fit for you.
Is it hard to become an accountant?
Because each individual brings their own unique attributes and natural abilities to every challenge, the degree of difficulty involved with any academic or professional pursuit is somewhat subjective. Some might find the required math coursework to be challenging, while others would be more challenged by the communications skills or humanities elements of the curriculum. If you apply yourself, take advantage of the tools and resources DeVry offers and adopt a goal-oriented mindset, you can absolutely pursue your dreams of becoming an accountant.
Nearly every business, from a corner grocery store to a multinational corporation, has the need to track its finances, make payroll and pay taxes. That’s why the accounting field is so broad and offers so many options. This includes positions with or without “accountant” in their title. Whether you choose to become a CPA or work in one of the many other roles, earning an accounting degree can help you learn the skills you need to consider a variety of career paths.
Prepare for Your Career in Accounting with DeVry
At DeVry, our online Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting can prepare you to pursue an accounting career by giving you a strong foundation in accounting, economics and business administration. You’ll learn the fundamentals of financial accounting and build skills that can be applied in a broad spectrum of industries. You’ll also be exposed to CPA exam concepts, with concepts from Becker Professional Education’s CPA Exam prep built right into the coursework.1 Classes start every 8 weeks.
1Most state boards of accountancy require 150 credit hours of post-secondary education in order to sit for the CPA exam. As this program is less than 150 credit hours, this program alone does not meet the minimum coursework requirements to sit for the CPA exam. Students interested in sitting for the CPA exam should check their state’s requirements. Credits and degrees earned from this institution do not automatically qualify the holder to participate in professional licensing exams to practice certain professions. Persons interested in practicing a regulated profession must contact the appropriate state regulatory agency for their field of interest. DeVry is not able to recommend graduates for professional licensure in any state. New York students should contact the NYSED Office of Professions regarding professional licensure.
2Growth projected on a national level. Local growth will vary by location. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm