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When you have a firm idea of what you want, seek out an accounting program that will put you on the right track to success.
Accounting is a diverse and growing field that every business needs. It can involve far more than simply helping individuals with their taxes. Accountants find themselves in careers as varied as consultants, law enforcement and information technology. When you think of pursuing accounting, consider what you want for your life and career. When you have a firm idea of what you want, seek out an accounting program that will put you on the right track to success.
For instance, you might want to pursue forensics. That’s right, accountants also work for law enforcement. They gather and analyze evidence and testify in court, much like the physical scientists on popular television shows.
If you dream of being a forensic accountant and holding white collar criminals accountable for the damage they do both to companies and the public, there are many online and “real world” programs that will give you the skills you need to pursue this noble profession. If you already have a Bachelor of Science in Business or Accounting, you might want to then consider a master’s degree program.
A masters-level degree in forensic accounting can take as little as a year to complete, and many schools offer the degree online. After you specialize in forensics, you can pursue work with numerous law enforcement agencies. In fact, you might even find work with a defense attorney who defends white collar criminals. Every day there are people wrongfully accused of embezzlement, securities fraud or money laundering. You can do the necessary auditing to help exonerate your clients. The right accounting program will put you on track to become a star in the field.
An associate’s degree is a great place to start your accounting career. With an Associate’s in Accounting, you can begin to work in the field. In fact, this may be the last academic degree you care to get. With an associate’s degree, you will be qualified to work in a wide range of fields, from manufacturing to government, law enforcement and healthcare. Plus, if you get your career started with an associate’s degree, you can always pursue more learning online in your spare time to enhance your credentials and perhaps qualify to sit for the CPA exam.
Certified Public Accountant
The top certification in accounting in the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation. This credential will open doors to any sort of accounting job you can possibly imagine. This is a very difficult, but hugely rewarding credential to have. If that is your goal, then you need to investigate your accounting program to make sure that its alumni are succeeding as CPAs. If you pursue an online accounting program, make sure that it will prepare you to become a CPA in your chosen state of residence. After all, CPA requirements vary from state to state. Make sure that you are well-prepared by investigating this key detail.
It is vital to note that in order to achieve a CPA, you must have completed your bachelor’s degree and then many credit hours on top of that. In fact, it might be a good idea to pursue an MBA in Finance prior to pursuing the CPA designation. That will make you all the more hirable and desirable.
Once you have completed your 150 hours of post-graduate work in accounting, you will be ready to prepare for the CPA exam. You might want to investigate CPA prep courses. After all, the CPA exam is considered by many to be the hardest single professional exam in the nation. Consider that the CPA exam covers four areas that are tested individually:
- Financial Accounting and Reporting
- Auditing and Attestation
- Regulation and Ethics
- Business Environment and Concepts
Imagine several hours’ worth of detailed, gritty questions about each of those sections. While some may be able to walk straight from graduation to the test, many will want to take extra time to study. You can find many live and online prep courses that will help you refresh yourself on the terms, concepts and formulas that you are likely to face on the exam.
Master of Accountancy
Though the MBA degree gets all the glory, you can pursue a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) degree. That degree will specifically put you on track to take the CPA exam, widely considered to be the toughest of all professional examinations. The program can take up to two years to complete, and will likely be a full-time commitment, but it will be worth every minute once you come through the other side and achieve the coveted CPA status. Alternately, you might decide to pursue the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation.
Certified Management Accountant
A CMA certificate program is often very similar, if not identical, to that for a CPA. The testing is different, but each designation is highly-sought and richly rewarded. You will need to have adequate work experience above and beyond your schooling, however. If you decide, and are able, to work as you study for a Master of Accountancy, you can potentially emerge from graduate school fully prepared to sit for the CMA exam. Once you are through the academic accounting program, and have passed the exam, you will still need to complete professional development units to maintain your CMA status.
Doctorate in Accounting
If academia is your thing, you can pursue a PhD in accounting. In fact, some say that there is a shortage of doctoral-level accountants. When you achieve this pinnacle of accounting, you will be prepared to add to discussions pertaining to the theory of accounting, accounting research and other areas of accounting science. Very frequently, those who pursue the PhD are interested in an academic career as a professor or researcher. However, there are many who pursue this level because of their love of, and dedication to, the profession. After all, it is these high-minded thinkers who drive the discussion about accounting and help to move the field forward.
No matter what accounting program you pursue, you will likely have the option of online or traditional classrooms. Even if you choose a traditional campus, you might also find that you can or want to take online classes as well. In fact, it may be a good idea to take at least a few online classes to familiarize yourself with that approach to learning. You may need to take online courses later on to complete your professional development units, or to complete the next level of your education. Online education is an integrated part of the academic universe, so make sure you are familiar with it.