According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), growth in the accounting and financial services sector is closely tied into the overall health of our economy. Fortunately, the future looks bright for most careers in this field. As the BLS notes, employment for careers in business and financial operations is expected to increase 13 percent from 2012 to 2022. That is slightly faster than the 11 percent growth predicted for all occupations combined, which bodes well for those who choose to enter an accounting profession.
Online accounting schools can prepare you for a number of careers in various fields inside and related to the accounting world. Not only will you participate in classroom instruction in these programs, but you can also learn a great deal firsthand as well. Continue reading to learn more about online accounting programs and what they offer.
Online Accounting Degrees Programs
Educational requirements vary widely depending on the accounting career you plan to pursue. For example, most accountants need to have a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field to get started, while workers in certain roles may also need a master's degree in either accounting or business administration. Meanwhile, there are other requirements for accountants who want to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). In most cases, becoming a CPA involves passing a national exam and meeting various requirements that are determined by your state of residence.
Other professionals in accounting, such as bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, don't require as much training or education. According to the BLS, bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks typically need a high school diploma and some work experience. However, a certificate or associate degree in accounting may lead to better job prospects.
When it comes to online accounting degrees, you have plenty of options to choose from. The following table includes the most common online accounting degrees available, as well as how long they take to complete. Also included in the table are some careers that the corresponding degree can help you qualify for:
|Degree||Timeline for Completion||Applicable Careers|
|Certificate||Six months to two years||Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks|
|Associate degree||Typically two years of full-time study||Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks|
|Bachelor's degree||Typically four years of full-time study.||Accountants and auditors, budget analysts, financial analysts|
|Master's degree||Typically two years of full-time study after earning a bachelor's degree.||Accountants and auditors, budget analysts, financial analysts|
Career Outlook for Accounting Graduates
Although career outcomes can vary widely due to education, geography, and the economy, most professionals in accounting experience a healthy wage and good job prospects. Despite any lulls in the economy predicted for the future, the BLS predicts steady growth for workers who have accounting experience and applicable degrees. The following table illustrates some of the most popular career options for those with on-campus and online accounting degrees along with the May 2014 median annual wage and job outlook for the decade of 2012-22 as per the BLS.
|Career||Median Wage||Job Outlook|
|Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks||$38,070||11%|
|Accountants and Auditors||$73,670||13%|
|Bill and Account Collectors||$35,540||15%|
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014
Choosing the Right Accounting School
Once you decide that you want to pursue one of the many online accounting degrees available, it is essential that you research potential schools and compare them to one another. If you are interested in becoming a CPA, for example, you need to make sure that your school's program offers the right combination of coursework to help you meet the requirements and stay on track. Meanwhile, there are other questions you should ask yourself, including these:
- Does my school's online platform allow me to interact with my instructors and peers?
- Does it offer any resources for internships or job placement?
- Will the online accounting programs I'm considering let me finish my coursework on my own time, or are classes on a set schedule?
- Can I earn my degree part-time?
- Are the online accounting schools I'm considering accredited?
These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself as you research online accounting schools and the programs they offer. Just remember to compare all of the options available, and not just in terms of the courses they offer, but in terms of pricing as well. On-campus and online accounting degrees are not all created equal; it's up to you to find a program that will ultimately lead to the best outcome possible.
- Accountants and Auditors, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132011.htm
- Accountants and Auditors, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-6
- Budget Analysts, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/budget-analysts.htm#tab-1
- Financial Analysts, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm#tab-1
- May 2013 National Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm