Accounting has long been called the language of business. An accounting degree provides training in the field of financial analysis and reporting. Those who pursue an accounting degree learn general accounting principles for business entities, and the preparation of financial reports and records. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) defines accounting as “the art of recording, classifying, and summarizing in a significant manner and in terms of money, transactions and events which are, in part at least, of financial character, and interpreting the results thereof.” Accountancy training encompasses both management and financial accounting, as well as auditing and bookkeeping practices.
When considering a degree in accounting, know what your education will bring you. A bachelor’s degree in accounting will prepare you for a bookkeeping or auditing position, though many degree holders also choose to seek licensure. The certified public accountant, or CPA, holds (at least) a bachelor’s degree in accounting and has passed a set of exams that lead to CPA certification. Any accounting party filing a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) must, by law, be a CPA. Occupational outlook is higher for those with both an accounting degree and a CPA certification. Senior accountants often have a master’s degree in either accounting or business administration. An associate’s degree or certificate in accounting might be enough formal education for a bookkeeper, but prospective auditors and accountants will seek at least a bachelor’s degree for entry in the field.
Accuracy is perhaps the most important skill for accountants to possess. Attention to detail and technical skills will also aid in successful completion of accountancy tasks. As several accounting scandals have overtaken news cycles in the past decades, accurate reporting emphasis is at an all-time high. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational outlook growth is projected at 16%, which is “about as fast as average.” The need for accountants and auditors will change along with business trends, but job prospects remain steady and largely full time. Where there is business to be done, there is a need for accountants. The trend shows no sign of short or long term decline.
Students immerse in the field of accounting through structured study and graduated coursework. Preparation and execution of financial and managerial recording is taught, as well as tax preparation and financial operations analysis. Typically, students choose a degree program based on either financial or managerial accounting emphases. The most popular degrees are a BS in Accounting and an MBA in Accounting. Job placement statistics, price, reputation, and accreditation are also of primary concern to prospective students. Be certain to seek only accredited degrees, and to check CPA exam passage rates of your prospective school’s accounting program.
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