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Bachelor's degrees in accounting explore business concepts and develop learners' technical financial management and analysis skills. Core accounting coursework begins with essential accounting concepts and theories. Students then acquire intermediate and advanced knowledge in areas that typically include:
- Cost, financial, and managerial accounting
- Reporting standards and generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)
- Auditing, taxation, and financial analysis
Students also pursue elective courses to round out their education. Common topics include business management and administration, economics, and finance.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 6% nationwide growth for accountant and auditor careers from 2021 to 2031, which equates to 136,400 annual job openings. Businesses of all sizes across all industries have an ongoing need for accounting professionals.
This guide explores online accounting degrees at the bachelor's level, including career paths for graduates of accounting bachelor's programs. Use this information to help your search for a degree that supports your professional aspirations.
Should You Get an Online Accounting Degree?
Prospective students should consider earning their degree in accounting online if they have a busy work schedule, juggle family obligations, or live far from their preferred school. Online accounting degrees can also suit enrollees pursuing accelerated programs or taking classes part time.
Some programs offer coursework 100% online, while others use a hybrid model that includes in-person obligations like weekend seminars or on-campus orientations. Online coursework operates in two modalities: asynchronous, where learners complete coursework on more flexible calendars, or synchronous, where enrollees use tools like web conferencing to participate in live courses at set times.
Why Get an Accounting Bachelor's?
Accounting graduates can qualify for an array of careers, including bookkeeper, certified public accountant (CPA), or certified management accountant (CMA). However, online accounting degrees can also lead to other career options, such as auditor, actuary, financial advisor, tax specialist, and business consultant.
Bachelor's programs in accounting provide the foundational education for CPA and CMA licensure. These degrees can also help enrollees prepare for graduate-level programs.
Accounting professionals with bachelor's degrees earn higher salaries than workers in the same field with only an associate degree. According to June 2023 Payscale data, workers with associate degrees in accounting earn an average base salary of $55,000 per year. Meanwhile, workers with accounting bachelor's degrees earn an average salary of $77,000 per year — an increase of 40%.
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Accounting Degree and Concentration Options
Many online accounting programs culminate in a bachelor of science (BS). Other designations include bachelor of arts (BA), bachelor of business administration (BBA), or bachelor of accounting (BAcc).
BS, BA, BBA, and BAcc programs feature similar content with variations in curricular focus. BS degrees emphasize technical and quantitative skills, while BA programs concentrate more on theory and qualitative skills. BBA degrees generally include more extensive coverage of business administration and management. BAcc programs focus on accounting coursework.
Some accounting bachelor's degrees offer concentrations to specialize students' education toward specific career fields. Common examples include:
Next Steps After Getting an Accounting Degree
Students should consider the following post-graduation possibilities as they research accounting bachelor's programs:
Enter the Workforce
Many employers want to hire recent accounting graduates. Students should consult their school's career center to learn more about the current job market, connect with hiring managers, and explore career paths for accounting majors. Alumni can also provide information about their experiences and help enrollees expand their professional networks.
Become a CPA
Some accounting positions, including CPA jobs, require licensure. However, not all bachelor's degrees in accounting — which often only comprise 120 credits — satisfy the educational requirements for these credentials, as most states mandate 150 credit hours of education for CPA licensure. Some programs include all 150 credits within their curricula, while others include accelerated bachelor's-to-master's options that help learners fulfill their state's CPA educational requirements and earn an advanced degree.
Pursue a Master's Degree
Many accounting jobs require only a bachelor's degree, but some managers prefer applicants with advanced education in accounting, business, or a related field. Though master's degrees are generally not required for CPA licensure, earning a master's degree in the field can help students fulfill the educational requirements of the credentialing process while simultaneously raising their earning potential.
Bachelor of Accounting Jobs and Salaries
Online accounting degrees can qualify graduates for multiple careers. The following list profiles several occupations available to workers with bachelor's degrees in accounting.
Accountants use GAAP to manage organizational finances, prepare financial statements, and analyze financial records. They frequently participate in organizational financial planning and initiatives to improve financial health. Accountants also offer taxation and compliance expertise.
Auditors analyze financial records to ensure their accuracy, compliance, and legality. Internal auditors perform audits within their organization. External auditors work for third-party organizations — usually in government — and inspect company records to ensure tax compliance.
Budget analysts determine capital requirements for projects, submit proposals, track spending, and maximize financial resources. Analysts also participate in short-, medium-, and long-term organizational financial planning. They work in the public and private sectors, often liaising with senior managers and executives as they perform their duties.
Actuaries use statistical analysis and probability to predict economic impacts. They frequently work in the insurance industry, determining the relative level of risk that various scenarios pose. Actuaries also work for financial institutions and other organizations.
Common Questions About Accounting Bachelor's Degrees
Is a degree in accounting a BA or BS?
Though both BS and BA accounting programs exist, BS degrees are more common. Bachelor of business administration and bachelor of accounting degrees are also available.
What can you do with a bachelor's degree in accounting?
A bachelor's in accounting can qualify graduates for accounting, auditing, financial analysis, and business jobs.
Can I become a CPA after earning a bachelor's in accounting?
States typically mandate 150 college credits for CPA licensure, meaning learners must complete a 120-credit bachelor's degree in accounting plus additional education to qualify for CPA credentials.
Can I get a job with a bachelor's in accounting but no experience?
Yes, businesses may hire accounting graduates with no experience. Some employers ask graduates to earn a CPA license within 2-3 years of hiring. This licensure process often requires 1-2 years of supervised professional experience.
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