Associate’s Degree in Accounting

There are many positions you can apply for with an associate’s degree in accounting.

accounting associate'sHow can you enter the competitive job market of accounting and take advantage of an exciting new career in a field that is projecting 11 percent growth by 2024 (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)? By earning your associate’s degree in accounting, you can meet the educational requirements for several entry-level accounting positions.

An associate’s degree in accounting will introduce you to the General Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). After graduation, you will have acquired the skills necessary to perform essential accounting responsibilities such as payroll and income taxes. You will be familiar with accounting software to maintain and track financial transactions and fiscal records. Your new skill set and formal education can lead to various accounting careers in the public and private sectors, small and large corporations, nonprofits and government professions.

What is Accounting?

Accounting is made up of the logging, verifying and detailing of financial transactions for an individual or business. It can include sorting, storing, summarizing, and presenting the detailed analysis and auditing of fiscal reports. Most accountants have completed formal education and training to carry out these undertakings. There are three main duties for accountants:

  • Financial
  • Administrative
  • Compliance management

Financial accounting is one of the essential duties of an accountant. It includes the presentation of the financial health of business or individual, in the form of balance sheets, income and financial statements to organizations and people outside of the company. These reports are prepared using accounting software and are in compliance with fundamental accounting principles often referred to as GAAP or U.S. GAAP.

Managerial accounting is another responsibility of an accountant. It consists of providing organizational decision makers with current financials needed to make competent decisions regarding the well-being of the business. These reports and evaluations are provided only to key players within the company. These statements, are composed of figures from the recorded transactions as well as projected estimates. Examples of internal reporting and analysis are criteria for controlling operations, reporting and suggestions of budgets, and sale prices for quoting new jobs.

A third crucial responsibility of an accountant includes education and compliance with government regulations related to income tax reporting.

Common Curriculum for Associate’s Degree in Accounting Programs:

Most associate’s degree programs will require 60 college credits to graduate. The credits are made up of 45 general education and elective credits with the remaining 15 credits in accounting. The 15 credits needed in an associate’s degree typically consist of the following courses:

  • Introduction to Business or Business Communications
  • Introduction to Finance
  • Accounting I
  • Business Statistics

If you choose to pursue a bachelor’s in accounting you can often apply the 60 credits completed in your associate’s degree to the 120 needed for a completion of a bachelor’s in accounting.

Associate’s Degree vs. Certificate

The main difference between an associate’s degree in accounting and a certificate in accounting is that an associate’s degree is more likely to meet the educational requirements for many entry-level accounting positions. Several mid-level accounting positions will require that the applicant has earned a bachelor’s degree and most CPA’s, and senior accounting positions will require even more.

A certificate typically takes nine months to complete and consist only of accounting courses. It is usually completed in nine months to a year and is typically less expensive. Most students will opt for a certificate in accounting when they want to get a step ahead in the professional field and may have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in another core area.

Who is this Degree for?

There are many positions you can apply for with an associate’s degree in accounting. The typical American retired at 62, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies’ survey of American Retirees and pre-retirees. With this in mind, a career in accounting might be an enjoyable and fulfilling option for you. On average accountants experience low-stress levels (except for tax season and end- of- year reporting), a pretty decent work-life balance, upward mobility with job advancement, as well as, a higher than average median U.S. salary. Most positions will require you to meet the following criteria:

  • Analytical: you are good at taking a problem or task and breaking it down into smaller elements to solve the problem or complete the task.
  • Independent: Doing what is asked to the best of your ability, without the need for external prodding, and working until the job is completed;
  • Detail-oriented: A person who pays attention to the details and can make a conscious effort to understand causes instead of just the effects
  • Investigative: Ability to search out and examine the particulars of financial statements in an attempt to learn the facts about something hidden, unique, or complex.

Job Growth, Career Paths, and Salary

  • Accountant I – Ensures that all accounting standard operating procedures are followed. Performs activities related to payables, liens, billings, payroll/cost/budget reports for the management team. Median Salary: $36,430 per year.
  • Accountant/Office Manager: Engaged in fiscal management, human resource functions, managing office, and communication systems. Median Salary: $28,670 per year.
  • Accounting Assistant: Helps to prepare and keep financial and business transaction data up-to-date, applying accepted procedures, and prepares reports to ensure accurate accounting records. Median salary: $35,970 per year.
  • HR/Accounting Specialist: Responsible for accounts receivable including billing, status changes, posting payments, bank deposits and rate changes in the market. Accounts payable including invoice entry, processing payments, expense reimbursements, credit card charges, maintaining vendor files, and 1099s. Processing payroll, timesheet corrections, entering new employees into a system, background checks, I-9s, assemble and maintain personnel files, managing unemployment claims, and workers compensation claims. Median salary: $57,420 per year.

Accounting has a positive outlook according to numerous sources. In 2016, accounting has been ranked number three for best business jobs, number five for best STEM jobs and 24 in the top 100 best jobs, according to usnews.com.

This is a snapshot of why accounting is #3 for best business jobs.

Upward Mobility: High
Opportunities for advancements and salary

Stress Level: Average
Work environment and complexities of the job’s responsibilities

Flexibility: Above Average
Alternative working schedule and work life balance

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