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Why You Should Get an Accounting Degree

By completing an accounting degree program at a college or university, you can earn an associate, bachelor, or master's degree in accounting. An associate's degree takes about two years to earn, and a bachelor's degree in four years. Once you've earned your bachelor's degree, it can take two additional years or less to earn your master's degree.

In the accounting field, the most frequently required degree is a bachelor's degree. To be considered for most entry-level positions in many public and private firms, as well as the federal government, you will be required to have at least a bachelor's degree. Some organizations, such as the Certified Public Accountant designation, require special certifications or licenses in addition to a bachelor's degree or higher.

Those who earn an accounting degree go on to pursue a career in one of the four following basic types of accounting professionals:

  • Government Accountants: As a government accountant, you can work in federal, state, or local governments. Your duties would include maintaining revenue and expenditure records. If you were to be a government accountant for the federal government, you may serve as an agent for the Internal Revenue Service. Financial management, administration, and budget analysis jobs are also available.
  • Public Accountants: As a public accountant, you could work for a wide array of organizations, such as non-profit organizations, for-profit organizations, governments, or individuals. Common duties of a public accountant include duties such as accounting, auditing, and taxes. Advice, consulting, and auditing services to the clients may also be provided as a public accountant.
  • Internal Auditors: As an internal auditor, you are a specialized accountant who examines their firms' records, seeking out waste or fraud.
  • Management Accountants: Management Accountants, also known as private or cost accountants take their employer's financial information and record and analyze it. Sometimes management accountants specialize in certain areas, such as cost accounting, financial analysis, or planning and budgeting.

Some other interesting careers to consider if you have a degree in accounting, or are interested in earning one:
  • Forensic Accountant: As a forensic accountant, it is your job to follow the money. On behalf of companies and public law enforcement agencies, you will investigate financial crimes and insurance fraud. This usually results in criminal charges, and you may be asked to testify in court. To attain this career, first earn a bachelor's degree in accounting, business administration, or criminal justice. Once you've earned your degree, you will need to get certified as a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, or Certified Forensic Accountant.
  • Comptroller: As a comptroller, also known as controller or chief accountant, it is your job to keep a close eye on all incoming and outgoing finances.
    What degree or certifications you should get if you're looking to be a comptroller depends upon whether you plan to work for the government, a public company, or a private company. You should at least attain your bachelor's degree in accounting or finance. You may also want to look into becoming a Certified Public Accountant.
  • Chief Financial Officer: As a CFO, you are responsible for a company's financial goals and budgets. CFO's are accountable for the organization's financial reporting, if the organization is a publicly traded company.
    Because there is so much competition for a CFO position, your best bet would to earn your master's degree in accounting or finance, as well as becoming a Certified Public Accountant.
  • IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent: As an IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent, you'll be working closely with the FBI DEA, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and carious other law enforcement agencies. You will be investigating violations of the Internal Revenue Code and other financial crimes.
    If you're interested in this position, you'll need a bachelor's degree including 15 semester hours in accounting, and 9 semester credits in money and banking, tax law, business law, economics, or finance, as well as a certification as a Certified Public Accountant.
  • International Accountant: As an international accountant, you will be working with people all over the world; you will need knowledge of international financial reporting standards, and can do everything from working on international mergers and acquisitions, to navigating complicated trade treaties in emerging markets.
    While the most helpful degree to have in this field is an international business degree, a degree in accounting, finance, and business administration can also serve as useful. It would be ideal to be fluent in a foreign language.

Those who have an advanced accounting degree are often qualified for more advanced career options than those who have an associate's or bachelor's degree. Some positions available to accountants with advanced degrees are supervisor, manager, comptroller/controller, chief financial officers, or partner. It is not uncommon for those with an advanced accounting degree to open their own accounting firm.

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All articles: By The GetDegreed Staff.

Why You Should Get an Accounting Degree 2012-07-11