5 Truths to Consider Before Obtaining an Accounting Degree


Updated October 25, 2023 · 2 Min Read

Are you thinking of pursuing an accounting degree? Learn a few important points to consider before you begin your educational journey in accounting.

Accounting.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Credit: pekic / Getty Images

Accounting degrees can benefit anyone interested in starting an accounting business or becoming an accountant with an existing company. An accounting degree builds math, taxation, bookkeeping, and data analysis skills to prepare learners for an accounting career.

A bachelor's degree in accounting typically comprises 120 credits and takes four years to complete. Upon graduating, students may pursue positions as general accountants or financial consultants for businesses.

A master's in accounting usually takes 1-2 years to complete. Individuals often pursue these programs to earn required credits for certified public accountant (CPA) credentials, which some employers may require for tax examiner, auditor, or financial analyst positions.

Prospective accountants should consider the following factors before enrolling in accounting degrees.

Math Skills Are Necessary

Accounting requires a deep understanding and interest in complex mathematical skills like algebra, statistics, and calculus. Coursework for an accounting degree may begin with relatively basic algebra but can quickly escalate into more advanced math topics.

Accounting students should have a solid mathematical foundation to avoid feeling overwhelmed throughout their programs. It could also be helpful to seek a program with academic support for students, like mentoring, tutoring, and online help labs.

It Can Lead to Multiple Careers

Accounting degrees, especially at the master's level, can lead to numerous careers. The accounting industry offers multiple niches, like:

Graduates can also apply their skills to other roles, such as:

Becoming a CPA after completing an accounting degree can open more doors in the field. CPAs can launch accounting firms, work with businesses of all sizes, or enter advanced positions as cost estimators or portfolio managers.

Future Goals Can Help Determine the Best Degree Path

Before beginning an accounting degree, learners should consider their future goals. Some accountants begin their careers in entry-level positions and work their way up to higher roles. An associate or bachelor's degree in accounting may suffice for these accountants.

However, a master's degree may be necessary to pursue a CPA license, which requires additional accounting and business-related coursework beyond a bachelor's degree. Some employers require candidates to possess CPA licensure.

Flexible Options Are Available

Like other degree types, accounting degrees are available in different formats, such as on campus, online, or hybrid, to cater to each student's needs. The options vary by school.

Online or hybrid options generally work best for learners who work full time or have demanding personal commitments. Some schools also offer in-person classes in the evenings or on weekends for flexible scheduling.

The Investment Can Pay Off

Although tuition varies among programs, the average undergraduate accounting degree costs between $42,000 and $72,000.

Fortunately, accountants can earn attractive salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants and auditors earned a median salary of $78,000 as of May 2022. In recent years, starting salaries have increased as firms compete to attract top talent.

Some industries also pay accountants higher-than-average salaries. For example, the media streaming distribution services, alcoholic beverages, and computer manufacturing industries pay over $120,000 annually, on average.

Featured Online Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

Frequently Asked Questions About Accounting Degrees

Is An Accounting Degree Worth It?

People interested in accounting careers can likely benefit from accounting degrees, which build the necessary skills for accounting and other financial positions. An accounting degree also provides the groundwork for becoming a licensed CPA.

What Kind of Jobs Can People With Accounting Degrees Get?

Entry-level accounting graduates can enter the field as payroll clerks, auditing clerks, or accounting assistants. They may also pursue jobs as financial consultants, business analysts, finance managers, and investment bankers. Some accounting graduates start their own accounting firms to provide services to multiple businesses.

How Much Does It Cost to Get An Accounting Degree?

Undergraduate accounting degrees typically cost between $350-$600 per credit, which is generally lower than per-credit graduate tuition. However, costs can vary significantly depending on the school's private vs. public status and the student's state residency.

Are Accounting Degrees In High Demand?

The BLS projects accounting employment to grow by 6% from 2021-2031, slightly outpacing the average for all occupations. BLS data from May 2022 shows that the accounting, tax preparation, payroll services, and company management industries employ the most accountants.

Recommended Reading

Search top-tier programs curated by your interests.

Let us know what type of degree you're looking into, and we'll find a list of the best programs to get you there.