Accounting Degree Overview for Alabama
The Pew Research Center Religious Landscape Study identifies Alabama as the most religious state in the union. The state also has an extensive civil rights history, including Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous march from Selma to Montgomery.
While obtaining an accounting degree is a solid career choice in any state, Alabama accounting students benefit from the state's unusually low cost of living and lucrative career options. Alabama's accountants and auditors earn a mean annual wage of $72,120, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Alabama accounting students might also pursue careers as bookkeepers, auditing clerks, or financial managers.
The following state page covers accounting degrees in Alabama, including the state's higher education statistics, available program types and formats, and relevant career paths for prospective Alabama accounting students.
Alabama at a Glance
|Per Capita Income||$27,525|
|Fortune 500 Companies||3|
|Number of Higher Learning Institutions||77|
Average Annual Temperature: 62.8 °F
Annual Precipitation: 58.3 inches
|Major Sports Teams||Alabama Crimson Tide, Alabama Blackhawks, Birmingham Vulcans, Rocket City Trash Pandas, Dixie Derby Girls, Birmingham Hammers|
|Accountants in Alabama||17,400|
Top Alabama Schools for Accounting
- Samford University
- The University of Alabama
- Birmingham Southern College
- University of Alabama in Huntsville
- University of Mobile
- University of North Alabama
- University of South Alabama
- Faulkner University
- Jacksonville State University
- University of Montevallo
Why Go to College for Accounting in Alabama?
Attending a program in the area where you plan to work can improve your job prospects, as schools often boast a local reputation and provide local networking opportunities. Alabama's accountants and auditors earn a generous mean annual salary, and budget analysts and personal financial advisors in Alabama earn more than their counterparts in most other states.
Alabama's top accounting schools span the geography of the state fairly evenly. Several of these schools offer affordable online programs, which are often convenient for working adults and out-of-state students. However, some online accounting degrees in Alabama require occasional trips to campus.
An important consideration for students and professionals, Alabama boasts a relatively low cost of living. While Alabama's graduation rate is lower than neighboring states, with 49.5% of Alabama students graduating within six years, the Alabama State Commission on Higher Education recently instituted comprehensive strategic planning in an effort to improve these statistics and to make higher education more accessible throughout the state.
Education Statistics for Alabama
Alabama contains 45 four-year colleges and 32 two-year colleges, many of which host accounting programs. The state's higher education statistics indicate that 44.6% of Alabama students take advantage of the state's many distance education options.
While the percentage of Alabama residents with an associate degree is on par with the national average, only 15.6% of the state's residents hold a bachelor's degree, compared to 19.4% nationwide. Less than 10% hold graduate degrees.
|Alabama Data||National Data|
|Number of Four-Year Colleges||45||3,004|
|Number of Two-Year Colleges||32||1,579|
|Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education||44.6%||34.7%|
|Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student||$7,031||$8,196|
|Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education||9.6%||5.8%|
|Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree||8.3%||8.4%|
|Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor's Degree||15.6%||19.4%|
|Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher||9.3%||12.1%|
Accreditation for Alabama Schools
The best accounting schools in Alabama hold institutional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Recognized by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation, this regional accrediting agency evaluates and accredits academic institutions in Southern states. SACSCOC promotes accountability, transparency, and improvement in higher education.
Regionally accredited schools meet more rigorous standards than nationally accredited institutions. These schools typically only accept degrees and credits from other regionally accredited institutions.
Particularly high-quality accounting degrees in Alabama may also boast programmatic accreditation from organizations such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). A global nonprofit committed to ensuring excellence in business education, AACSB has reviewed and approved over 870 business schools in 56 countries and territories.
Considerations for an Accounting Degree in Alabama
Students differ widely in lifestyle, interests, and career goals, and academic programs vary in pace, format, and focus. The following sections explore several key factors to consider when choosing between Alabama accounting programs, including available degree levels, concentrations, and program types.
Statistics indicate that nearly half of Alabama's college students complete courses online, taking advantage of the format's convenience. The sections below can help you determine whether online accounting degrees in Alabama meet your educational needs, preferences, and career goals.
Accounting Degree Levels
New accounting students often begin by completing an associate or bachelor's degree in accounting. Many candidates go on to earn graduate degrees in order to meet the requirements for CPA certification.
- Associate Degree in Accounting
This two-year degree includes general education courses combined with introductory accounting courses. The program prepares students for entry-level accounting-related jobs such as bookkeeper, accounting clerk, or auditing clerk.
- Bachelor's Degree in Accounting
Many accounting jobs require at least a bachelor's degree, which entails about four years of coursework. This degree provides a solid foundation in the field.
- Master's Degree in Accounting
Candidates with a bachelor’s degree may wish to continue to the graduate level. A master’s degree in accounting takes two years of advanced, specialized coursework and meets the educational expectations for upper-level careers such as certified public accountant (CPAs) or financial manager.
- Ph.D. in Accounting
Accounting Ph.D. students complete advanced coursework and research projects, usually in preparation for careers as professors or researchers.
Accounting Concentration Options
Many accounting programs encourage students to specialize their knowledge and skills by choosing a curriculum track or concentration. Concentrations familiarize learners with specific accounting fields, roles, or industries and prepare them to become competitive applicants for those roles.
According to Alabama employment statistics, financial advisors and budget analysts enjoy above-average salaries in this state. Available at both undergraduate and graduate levels, the following concentrations prepare graduates well for top-paying accounting careers in Alabama, including personal financial advisor, budget analyst, and financial manager.
This popular and versatile concentration focuses on financial analysis and reporting skills. Graduates often pursue careers as budget analysts, financial accountants, financial advisors, and financial managers.
Management accounting students build skills in financial planning, data analysis, and decision-making. Graduates may work as cost accountants, cost estimators, financial managers, or financial advisors.
On-Campus Versus Online Program Options
Especially popular in rural states with fewer institutions of higher education, online programs allow busy learners to earn degrees while attending to their job and family. Students pursuing accounting degrees in Alabama can choose from various program formats, including on-campus, online, and hybrid, each of which features different advantages.
|Enrolled Exclusively in Distance Education Courses||Enrolled in Some but Not All Distance Education Courses||Not Enrolled in Any Distance Education Courses|
|United States Students||16.3%||18.4%||65.3%|
Paying for Your Accounting Degree
To help mitigate the costs of an accounting degree, students can pursue various funding avenues, including grants, loans, scholarships, and fellowships. Enrollees at accredited schools can apply for federal financial aid by filling out a FAFSA form. The federal government typically dispenses grants, which do not need to be repaid, and low-interest loans, which students usually need to repay after graduating.
Other financial aid options include fellowships and scholarships, which students may receive based on merit, financial need, location, or identity. Alabama students should also consider taking advantage of Alabama-based scholarships.
|Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)||$9,827||$9,037|
|Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)||$24,939||$25,657|
|Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year)||$16,321||$30,731|
|Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)||$4,403||$3,243|
|Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)||$9,133||$7,971|
In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition
In-state and out-of-state tuition at Alabama's four-year public schools resembles national averages for similar institutions, but Alabama's two-year public schools charge around $1,000-$2,000 above average. Private institutions, meanwhile, cost far less in Alabama than the national average. At $16,321, Alabama's private four-year institutions cost around half of what similar institutions average nationally, on average.
Public schools charge out-of-state students more than double the tuition paid by in-state students, so obtaining state residency can reduce costs considerably. Alabama participates in the Southern Regional Education Board's Academic Common Market, which allows out-of-state students from the South to pay in-state tuition rates in other Southern states. To qualify, however, some students must demonstrate that the equivalent of their intended degree program does not exist in their home state.
Alabama's Cost of Living
Prospective students should also consider cost of living, which varies considerably by state, when choosing where to go to school. Alabama scores 89.3 on the World Population Review's cost of living index, making the state 10.7% more affordable than the U.S. average (of 100). The 11th cheapest state in the country, Alabama boasts particularly affordable housing at 71.5% of the national average cost in that category.
Other School Selection Criteria
As mentioned above, accreditation, degree type, program format, and cost should factor into school decisions. When considering accounting degrees in Alabama, school selection criteria may include the following:
EXPLORE OUR RANKINGS FOR THE BEST ACCOUNTING PROGRAMS AT EACH LEVEL
Careers for Accounting Graduates in Alabama
National job outlook projections and median annual salaries for accountants and auditors testify to the financial security that often accompanies accounting careers. BLS state data indicates especially promising accounting-related career prospects in Alabama.
The BLS projects a job growth rate of 9% for Alabama accountants and auditors between 2016 and 2026, compared to 6.4% nationally. While Alabama places 45th in the U.S. News and World Report state economy rankings, which measure economic stability and potential, the state scores above average (22nd) in growth.
With widely applicable skills, accounting professionals are poised to work across industries. Successful accounting firms, including accounting's Big Four, hold offices in large Alabama cities such as Birmingham. Alabama accountants might consider working in one of the Alabama industries projected to grow most between 2016 and 2026: healthcare, construction, and manufacturing.
Below you'll find job statistics and detailed descriptions for accounting careers in Alabama.
Select Accounting Careers in Alabama
- Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerk
The most common accounting-related positions in Alabama, bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks ensure accuracy on financial transactions and forms. These professionals enter data, process transactions, and formulate financial reports for management. Clerking positions typically require at least a certificate or associate degree in accounting.
Job Outlook in Alabama: -3% (2016-26)
- Budget Analyst
Tasked with overseeing company, program, or project budgets, budget analysts collaborate with managers, create reports, and monitor organizational spending. Budget analyst jobs often require a bachelor's or master's degree. Budget analysts in Alabama typically earn high salaries, according to BLS salary data.
Job Outlook in Alabama: +7% (2016-26)
- Personal Financial Advisor
These professionals educate and advise clients regarding financial events and decisions such as investments or college education planning. This career requires extensive knowledge of finance, and job candidates may fare best with a master's degree. Financial advisors may specialize in areas such as risk management or retirement.
Job Outlook in Alabama: +12% (2016-26)
Alabama Employment Trends
Projected Job Growth for Accountants
If you plan to work in Alabama, attending an in-state school can improve your employment prospects. As indicated above, clerks, accountants, and financial managers account for the majority of accounting-related positions in Alabama.
An associate degree can support graduates in entering the field as clerks, whereas candidates looking to work as cost estimators or tax examiners might consider obtaining a bachelor's degree. Earning a master's degree in financial accounting can help Alabama professionals qualify for the state's three top-paying accounting-related careers: financial manager, budget analyst, and financial advisor.
Financial managers, with salaries averaging $129,090, boast the highest mean wage out of the careers listed above. Alabama budget analysts and personal financial advisors also earn high salaries, and typically make more money than their counterparts in other states. Alabama's budget analysts make $5,000 more than the national average.
Alabama Requirements for Certified Public Accountants
Each state establishes its own CPA examination, certification, and licensure criteria, so take time to review the requirements for any state where you plan to work. The Alabama State Board of Public Accountancy dictates that Alabama CPAs must possess the following:
- A Social Security number
- U.S. citizenship or legal documentation
- Passing CPA Exam results
- Accounting-related education. To sit for the CPA examination, test-takers need a 120-credit bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school. To obtain CPA licensure, candidates need 150 total credit hours (including bachelor's degree credits). Of these, 24 credits must relate to accounting and 24 must relate to other business-related topics. A graduate degree from an AACSB-accredited program can also meet accounting course requirements.
- Accounting-related experience. CPA candidates need at least one year of experience in public accounting or at least two years of professional experience in other fields.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is accounting a good career in Alabama?
- Yes, Alabama accountants enjoy promising job prospects and high salaries, according to salary data from the BLS.
- How much do accountants earn in Alabama?
- Alabama accountants earned a 2019 mean annual salary of $72,120, according to the BLS state salary data.
- What accounting jobs are there in Alabama?
- Common accounting jobs in Alabama include auditing or accounting clerk, auditor or accountant, and financial manager. Growing accounting-related jobs in Alabama include budget analyst and personal financial advisor.
- Can I get an accounting degree in Alabama?
- Alabama offers accounting degree programs at various levels, including associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral options. Consult the rankings on this page to research the accredited accounting schools available in Alabama.
- Does Alabama have online accounting programs?
- Many Alabama accounting schools feature distance education options, which prove popular in this state. Approximately 44.6% of Alabama students take courses online, according to National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data.
Alabama Accounting and Education Organizations
- Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants Boasting over 6,000 members, this professional organization of Alabama CPAs offers educational opportunities, a referral service, and local chapter events. ASCPA offers special resources for aspiring and early-career CPAs.
- Alabama State Board of Public Accountancy This state board protects consumers by overseeing the application of Alabama state law and administrative codes for public accounting. The board also oversees CPA examination and licensure.
- Institute of Management Accountants - West Alabama Chapter A global association of accounting and finance professionals, the IMA maintains local chapters that provide networking, professional development, and education. Chartered in 1985, the IMA's West Alabama chapter meets monthly for speaker events and networking.
- National Association of Black Accountants - Birmingham Chapter A nonprofit association with more than 200,000 members, NABA offers networking, education, advocacy, and support to Black students and professionals in accounting-related fields. NABA's Birmingham chapter offers lectures, exam preparation, news, and social events.
Accounting Programs in Alabama
Based on data from the NCES' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, the following list includes all accredited accounting schools in Alabama. Updated annually, this list conveys the various options available to prospective accounting students in Alabama.
- Degree Levels