Online Accounting Bachelor's Degree
Accountants prepare taxes and inspect financial documents. They also may offer consulting services to corporations, nonprofits and governments. Employers need graduates who can analyze data and work through financial models, and an online bachelor’s degree in accounting can help students develop those in-demand skills. An online degree in accounting teaches students the fundamentals of business, finance and analysis to prepare them for professional accounting careers in both the public and private sectors.
|Principles of accounting|
Core course work for online accounting students often includes fundamentals of accounting, macroeconomics, internal auditing and income taxation.
Students are typically introduced to the field via an introductory accounting class, such as Principles of Accounting. Topics generally include an overview of the accounting cycle, business transactions and preparation of financial statements. An internal auditing course offers students an overview of ethics and professional standards, as well as procedures for evaluating an organization’s effectiveness, such as by monitoring its financial performance and compliance with laws and regulations.
These courses should help students pass the necessary exams for professional certification as a certified public accountant, certified management accountant or certified internal auditor.
CPA examination requirements
Students need to complete 150 semester hours in order to take the CPA exam, and most bachelor’s degree programs fall short of this requirement. The American Institute of CPAs recommends students continue their studies at the graduate level, earning either a master’s in accounting or an MBA with an accounting concentration. While professional certification is not required for all potential career paths, it can significantly improve job prospects, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
|Accountants and auditors||$64,000|
|Personal financial advisor||$68,000|
*per the BLS Occupational Outlook
Accounting is the third most in-demand degree, behind only finance and computer and information science, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
Increased focus on regulating and monitoring corporations in the wake of scandals and financial crises translates into an increased demand for accountants - particularly auditors. An auditor is an accountant who objectively inspects the financial statements and organizational effectiveness of a company. The well-known Big 4 accounting firms, whose businesses are largely comprised of audit services, hire many new accounting graduates each year.
The average starting salary for accounting majors is often more than $50,000 annually, according to a separate NACE survey.
The accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll services industry employs 25 percent of accountants and auditors, according to the BLS. Other industries for accounting graduates to find employment include:
• Retail trade
• Finance and insurance
• Real estate
• Management of companies and enterprises
A number of professional associations offer memberships to accounting professionals, including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Association of Government Accountants. Most provide members with benefits such as networking, career services and professional development opportunities.
While becoming an accountant or auditor is the most obvious career path, other options for students with an online bachelor’s in accounting include budget analyst, tax examiner and risk manager, to name a few.
Another path is to become a personal financial advisor, a professional who helps clients make important financial decisions such as planning for retirement and making investments. With a projected employment growth rate of more than 25 percent from 2012 to 2022, personal financial advisors are seeing much faster demand than the average growth rate for all occupations, according to the BLS.