Accounting Degree Overview for Alabama

Advertisement 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 find a school that's aligned with your interests?

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.

Advertisement 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.

Top Online Programs

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

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

POPULATION4,908,620
PER CAPITA INCOME$27,525
FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES3
NUMBER OF HIGHER LEARNING INSTITUTIONS77
CLIMATEAverage Annual Temperature: 62.8 °F
Annual Precipitation: 58.3 inches
MAJOR SPORTS TEAMSAlabama Crimson Tide, Alabama Blackhawks, Birmingham Vulcans, Rocket City Trash Pandas, Dixie Derby Girls, Birmingham Hammers
ACCOUNTANTS IN ALABAMA17,400

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.

HIGHER EDUCATION STATISTICS IN ALABAMA

ALABAMA DATANATIONAL DATA
Number of Four-Year Colleges453,004
Number of Two-Year Colleges321,579
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education44.6%34.7%
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student$7,031$8,196
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education9.6%5.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree8.3%8.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor’s Degree15.6%19.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher9.3%12.1%
Sources: NCESSHEEOU.S. Census Bureau – American Community Survey

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.

    Learn More


  • 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.

    Learn More


  • 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.

    Learn More


  • Ph.D. in Accounting

    Accounting Ph.D. students complete advanced coursework and research projects, usually in preparation for careers as professors or researchers.

    Learn More


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.

  • Financial Accounting: 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: 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.

Explore More Accounting Concentrations

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.

On-Campus

On-campus programs feature traditional, in-person class sessions at campus facilities. Enrollees usually commute to campus several days per week and benefit from networking opportunities with peers, professors, and industry guest speakers. On-campus programs often suit students who prefer structured, supervised, and collaborative learning.

Online Programs

Unlike traditional formats, many online programs allow students to attend class asynchronously. Enrollees often watch lectures and participate in discussions on their own time and where it suits them. Online students save money on commuting costs and often pay lower tuition and fees than on-campus students.

Many online programs also accommodate working professionals by allowing students to choose from part-time, full-time, and accelerated pacing options. The convenient format requires online learners to structure their schedule and to work well independently.

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid programs feature many of the benefits of online programs, combined with the networking and connection benefits of on-campus programs. Some programs require students to attend an in-person class session once per week, while other programs require a residency over several days.

PERCENTAGE OF STUDENTS ENROLLED IN DISTANCE EDUCATION

ENROLLED EXCLUSIVELY IN DISTANCE EDUCATION COURSESENROLLED IN SOME BUT NOT ALL DISTANCE EDUCATION COURSESNOT ENROLLED IN ANY DISTANCE EDUCATION COURSES
Alabama Students22.2%22.4%55.5%
United States Students16.3%18.4%65.3%
Source: NCES

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 COST OF COLLEGE TUITION AND FEES IN ALABAMA, 2017-2018

ALABAMANATIONAL
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
Source: NCES

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:

School Size

Bigger schools often boast more diversity, extensive campus resources, and networking opportunities, while smaller schools may offer a more intimate educational atmosphere and more interactions with faculty and peers.

Program Length

Students eager to graduate quickly sometimes enroll in accelerated programs, which may feature six short terms per year rather than a traditional semester format. Meanwhile, working professionals often select part-time programs that allow more balance between school and other obligations.

Extracurriculars

Some accounting schools offer interesting and relevant extracurricular activities and leadership opportunities. Well-established accounting schools may feature student clubs, host guest speakers, and facilitate international trips.

Earning Potential

Check your prospective accounting degree programs’ post-graduation salary statistics, if available. High average graduate salaries typically signal top-quality accounting programs with significant return on investment.

Program Population

Program population often varies based on location and format. Schools in more metropolitan areas tend to boast more diverse student cohorts and faculty. Full-time programs with classes during the day often serve younger students, while part-time and evening programs cater to working professionals.

Required Admission Materials

Students who lack requisite standardized test scores on tests such as the SAT/ACT or the GRE/GMAT may select schools that waive these requirements.

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)

    Learn More


  • 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)

    Learn More


  • 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)

    Learn More


Alabama Employment Trends

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

17,380 Employees2016
18,920 Employees2026
Alabama 9% increase
1,424,000 Employees2018
1,514,700 Employees2028
National 6.4% increase

Sources: O*NET, Projections Central


Curious About Other Accounting Jobs? Explore More Careers Here

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.

RESOURCES

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.


Advertisement 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.

Accredited Online College Programs

Recommended Reading

Accounting Degree Programs by State

Accounting Degree Programs by State

September 22, 2020   |   Staff Writers

An accounting degree prepares students for jobs in accounting, finance, and banking. Potential positions for graduates include accountant, auditor, financial planner, and bookkeeper. The  (BLS) reports that accountants and auditors earn...

Accounting Degree Program Rankings

Accounting Degree Program Rankings

October 16, 2020   |   Staff Writers

When finding the right school or degree programs, we recognize that there is no "perfect" ranking methodology. With this in mind, we aggregate what we believe to be the six...

Advertisement 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.

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.