Online Accounting Degrees
One of the most versatile and in demand degrees available through an online school is an accounting degree. In today’s competitive, financially-based world where monetary success depends on having exhaustive knowledge regarding income tax preparation, how to invest in stocks, bonds, gold and IRA accounts and understanding the financial aspects of running a business, the need for qualified accountants is rapidly growing and is projected to continue its growth over the next decade (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Moreover, the U.S. government and its many federal agencies such as the Security and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service and the General Accounting Office are always hiring people who have successfully completing an accounting degree program.
Associate and Bachelor Accounting Degrees
Popular associate and bachelor accounting degrees offered by online accounting schools include Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Business and Management Accountant, Internal Auditor, Tax Specialist and Bookkeeper. Many graduates of online accounting schools go on to work at a public accounting firm that offers financial services to the general public. These firms provide consultation, auditing, tax preparation and other accounting assistance to individuals and businesses of every size ranging from locally owned businesses to enormous international organizations.
All accredited online accounting schools offer certified public accounting degree programs that provide instruction to students about developing, implementing and analyzing budgets, preparing all types of tax forms, improving payroll management and providing expert advice to businesses suffering financial issues. Depending on their size, businesses may keep several CPAs as staff members to maintain control over budgets, payroll and other financial obligations involving the business as a whole.
Courses comprising an online accounting degree program include:
- Principles of economic theories
- Creating budgets and balance spreadsheets
- Algebra, calculus and statistics
- Business law and ethics
- Public and private taxation codes
- Volume/cost/profit analysis
- Accounting software
Masters of Accounting Degree
If a student chooses to pursue a master’s of accounting degree, he or she will continue learning about more complicated aspects of accounting such as intercompany financial transactions, compiling amalgamated accounting statements, concepts concerning non-profit financial concepts and understanding international standards in accounting theory.
Certified Public Accountant Exam
After completing an online accounting program and receiving an undergraduate degree, students need to pass their state’s Certified Public Accountant examination to be considered a qualified CPA. Comprised of four parts, the CPA examination is given four times each year and is computer-based. Candidates should have comprehensive knowledge regarding business concepts, regulations, auditing principles and financial reporting and accounting in order to pass the test.
Be aware that the majority of states require that accounting graduates who pass the Certified Public Accountant examination will need to document a certain amount of experience as an accountant before actually being given their CPA certificate. For example, California will not award a CPA certificate until the student has worked at a CPA firm, as a member of the Internal Revenue Service or with the State Board of Equalization for several months. In addition, a certified CPA must pay fees to obtain a state-issued license in order to practice as an independent contractor.
Certificate in Management Accounting
Another certification that online accounting students can pursue is the Certificate in Management Accounting. Sponsored by the IMA (Institute of Management Accountants), the examination to earn this certificate is given in June and December and is considered more difficult to pass than the CPA exam, with its emphasis on information and modeling systems, decision analysis, organizational behavior and specific components of auditing, taxation and economic principles.
Accounting Software Programs
With the large amount of digital technology integrated into the financial world, students of online accounting programs will also need to take basic and/or advanced courses on computer assisted accounting. Software such as Excel, Quickbooks, NetSuite for Small Businesses and AccountEdge are just a few computer assisted accounting software programs used by professional accountants. Students will learn how to track incoming receipts, create accounts payable ledgers, generate invoices, analyze individual sales and export information from one ledger to another using specific accounting software programs.
Online Accounting School Accreditation
Before enrolling in an online accounting degree program, make sure the online university has received at least one of three accreditations reserved especially for accounting programs. These are:
- Association for Advancing Collegiate Schools of Business ( AACSB)
- International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education
- Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs
Accreditation of a program means that it has been recognized by a board of professional education specialists who vouch for the program’s integrity, quality of instruction and validity in the real world. For more information regarding accreditation, visit The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs operated by the U.S. Department of Education.
Benefits of earning an online accounting degree include marketability, a higher than average annual salary of $60,000+, the ability to be self-employed or work with a company and the projected stability of this particular position among other business and finance employment opportunities. Moreover, the need for accounting experts will continue expanding all over the world due to rapid globalization of large corporations and the expansion of international conglomerates.