Online Accounting Schools
Offering programs that explore various aspects of accounting principles and methods, online accounting schools provide all forms of degrees to assist students with obtaining employment in the accounting industry. Management accounting, internal auditing, government accounting and public accounting are the fundamental categories of accountancy in which students can specialize by enrolling in a variety of online accounting school programs.
Accounting courses examine subjects such as accounting principles, accounting software programs ( Excel and QuickBooks), cost accounting, database management and design, business law, technologies and systems, macro- and microeconomics, federal taxation regulations, auditing practices and standards and accounting information systems. Excellent skills in mathematics is also a prerequisite, with math classes oriented around statistics, college algebra and some pre-calculus. Additionally, the implications of providing select information to company managers, creditors, stakeholders, investors and customers is also explored in classes involving decision making procedures in the field of accounting.
Job Opportunities for Accountants
With a degree from an online accounting school, individuals are qualified to pursue a diverse variety of employment options within the accounting field, such as:
- Accounting clerk
- Certified public accountant (CPA)
- Tax preparer
- Corporate accountant
- Budget analysis
- Financial manager
- Forensic accountant
- Financial analyst
- Finance controller
- Payroll accountant
- Auditor/Certified internal auditor
- Insurance accountant
Basically, an accountant ensures that the financial records of a person or business is correctly maintained and contains no errors that may compromise the integrity of that person’s financial condition. For example, public accountants perform numerous tasks for clients that involve keeping financial records in order, auditing financial records, providing advice concerning tax benefits or disadvantages and implementing new data-processing systems in order to better monitor a company’s assets.
Management or corporate accountants analyze financial information provided by the companies by which they are employed. Responsibilities of a corporate accountant include cost management, budgeting and allocating and interpreting financial input to produce long-range forecasts regarding the viability of the company. Management accountants working for a large company generally work in teams and prepare financial and statistical reports for regulatory agencies, stockholders and CEOs.
Associate Degrees in Accounting
Online accounting schools offering two-year programs to earn an associate degree are the University of Phoenix, Everest University Online, Kaplan University, DeVry University and Keiser University. Students desiring an Associate of Arts in Accounting will need to have received a high school diploma or GED prior to enrolling.
Courses comprising an associates degree program for accounting provide fundamental skills necessary to manage payroll accounts, accounts payable and accounts received and tracking of financial information involving a business or individual. Students earning this degree will be able to obtain entry-level positions as bookkeepers, tax preparers and financial statement analysts.
Bachelor Degrees in Accounting
Possessing a four-year bachelor degree in accounting permits students to obtain upper-level positions in large corporations, financial support institutions or as self-employed certified public accountants. Accounting applications and theory is explored in an bachelor’s program, along with business law, marketing, advanced statistical applications and basic knowledge of organizational behavior. How to effectively use accounting and tax software that provides programs designed to assist in finding solutions to financial/budgetary issues is also learned by students enrolled in online accounting schools. In addition, students are also exposed to various accounting-oriented mathematical formulas commonly utilized in large-scale accounting systems.
Masters Degrees in Accounting
Online schools offering masters degrees in accounting include University of Connecticut’s Online Master of Science Program in Accounting; Liberty University’s Master of Business Administration in Accounting; Everest University’s Online Master of Business Administration in Accounting and Kaplan University’s Masters of Science in Accounting.
Masters degrees in accounting are usually earned by students who already have several years experience in an accounting position and want to enhance their career by examining broader, more abstract levels of accounting theory and principles. Certified internal auditors and certified management accountants often possess masters degrees, as do professors of accounting classes and those working as international accounting experts.
Applicants enrolling in an online accounting school for the purpose of obtaining a masters degree will need to have already received a bachelors degree from an accredited higher learning institution and provide transcripts showing a GPA rating of no less than 2.5. Previous classes that must be included in course transcripts are Introduction to Finance, Macroeconomics, Financial Accounting and Managerial Accounting.
As with all graduate level programs, earning an accounting masters degree involves writing and submitting a thesis on such topics as accounting ethics, examining and criticizing tax regulations or original ideas concerning planning and budgeting. Thesis documents are usually graded by a committee of professors on the basis of a pass/fail system or are returned to allow students the opportunity to revise the thesis if necessary.
Cost of Attending An Online Accounting School
The price of tuition, books and additional supplies for obtaining a degree in accounting varies among online schools, with an average cost of $20,000 to $30,000 for associates degrees, around $40,000 for a bachelors degree and $50,000+ for a masters degree.
Schools accredited by one or more of the following are eligible to receive federal financial aid:
- Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
- Distance Education and Training Council, Accrediting Commission
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Middle States Commission on Higher Education
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities
Prior to enrolling in an online accounting school, students can fill out a Free Application For Student Financial Aid (FAFSA) to determine whether they are eligible to receive Pell Grants, Stafford loans or other monetary assistance to help further their education. Most online accounting schools provide payment plans for students who do not qualify for financial aid and cannot pay tuition in full at the start of the program.
Students receiving accounting degrees from online schools are qualified to become members of various accounting organizations that promote excellence in the research, practice and education of accounting principles, ethics and systems. Some of these are:
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
- Future Business Leaders of America – Phi Beta Lambda
- American Business Women’s Association
- The American Accounting Organization
- Association of Government Accountants
Job Forecast for Accountants
The U.S. Bureau of Labor reports an expected 20 percent increase in accounting job openings through the year 2014 due to growing numbers of small businesses, rapidly changing financial regulations and laws, and a growing dissatisfaction with company policies regarding sloppy or deliberately misleading financial record-keeping. Freelance accountants who choose to advertise themselves through networking and social media sites can expect to experience a growing demand for their services as well, as more people opt to have their yearly taxes done by a professional who is keenly aware of federal and state tax laws, available credits and other relevant information that may prevent a taxpayer from owing large sums of money to state and federal governments.