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California Accounting Schools

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In 2013, nearly 875,000 businesses were operating in California, according to the Census Bureau. Undoubtedly, many of those companies need competent accountants and bookkeepers to help manage their finances. What's more, job opportunities in the field are expected to grow in the years to come. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for accountants in California will grow nearly 17 percent from 2012-2022.

California accounting programs offer a number of education options that prepare students for these jobs and similar finance positions. Whether you want to work for a small mom and pop establishment, a Silicon Valley start-up or a Fortune 500 firm, California accounting schools can help you gain the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in the workplace.

Online Accounting Programs in California

There are no shortage of California accounting programs from which to choose. By some counts, nearly 200 accredited schools in the state offer an education in accounting and bookkeeping. These include private schools, community colleges, state universities and online institutions. Many of these programs allow students to earn degrees fully online and from the comfort of home.

Here are just a few example of some of the online accounting programs available in California:

  • Certificate in Accounting from the University of California-Berkley Extension
  • Associate Degree in Accounting from Foothill College
  • Bachelor's Degree in Accounting from California College San Diego
  • Master's Degree in Accounting from Cal State Online
  • Accounting CPA Preparation from University of California-Santa Cruz Silicon Valley Extension

Of course, that's just a small sampling of the online programs that are available at all levels. While some subjects, such as nursing, require more hands-on instruction, accounting lends itself well to online learning.


While some subjects, such as nursing, require more hands-on instruction, accounting lends itself well to online learning.


Online certificates and associate degrees may lead to jobs in bookkeeping while most accountants and auditors have at least a bachelor's degree. If you want to become a Certified Public Accountant, you'll need a bachelor's degree plus an additional 150 hours of training.

What's the Career Outlook for Accountants in California?

Accounting professionals are in demand nationwide, and California is no exception. While the state has developed something of a reputation as having a negative business climate and high taxes, that hasn't stopped companies from making California cities their home bases. After all, with nearly 39 million residents, as of 2014, there is a huge market of potential customers and workers in the state.

As a result, graduates from California accounting schools may see no shortage of employment opportunities. Not only are accountants expected to see 17 percent job growth, but other positions filled by accounting professionals could see as much as 32 percent growth in the coming years.

The chart below takes a closer look at employment, incomes and job growth in the Golden State:

Position Employment in California (2014) Average Salary in California (2014) Expected Job Growth (2012-2022)
Accountants and Auditors 144,240 $78,090 16.9%
Tax Preparers 8,170 $49,950 9.8%
Bookkeeping, Accounting or Auditing Clerks 173,170 $42,750 14.5%
Budget Analysts 8,210 $80,130 9%
Cost Estimators 25,660 $69,640 32.3%
Financial Managers 73,700 $144,670 13.6%
Personal Financial Advisors 22,680 $113,240 21.5%

Where people work also plays a role in how much money they can earn. Take, for instance, the San Jose metro area. It's home to Silicon Valley, and accountants there earned average incomes of $92,950 in 2014, well above the statewide average.

Are There Accounting Specializations in California?

Although degrees in general accountancy are common, some California accounting programs offer the opportunity to specialize. Options vary by school but may include the following.

  • Taxation
  • Financial accounting
  • Management
  • Forensic accounting
  • Public accounting

At the graduate level, some students may elect to pursue an MBA with an accounting concentration. After graduation, accounting professionals can pursue certification to further demonstrate their competency in the field. Some credentials broadly apply to the accounting profession while others are intended for those who have expertise in a particular area. The following are a few examples of available certifications.

  • Certified Public Accountant
  • Certified Management Accountant
  • Chartered Financial Analyst
  • Certified Public Bookkeeper

Of all the available credentials, only the Certified Public Accountant is a requirement for certain jobs. Accountants who wish to work with securities and publicly traded companies must have a CPA designation. Other credentials are voluntary although employers may prefer to hire those who are certified.


While becoming a CPA is not for everyone, those who do become licensed are typically rewarded with more job opportunities, greater income and a certain level of prestige.


Becoming a CPA is a rigorous process. The California Board of Accountancy lays out an education path that includes the following requirements for licensure.

  • 24 semester units in accounting subjects
  • 24 semester units in business-related subjects
  • 20 semester units in accountancy study
  • 10 semester units in ethics study

Beyond that, CPAs must pass a series of exams to be fully licensed. While becoming a CPA is not for everyone, those who do become licensed are typically rewarded with more job opportunities, greater income and a certain level of prestige, according to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.

If you're ready for a new career, you can start by browsing the California accounting schools listed below and requesting additional information from those that interest you.

Sources:
1. Projections Central, Long-Term Projections, http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
2. Occupational Employment Statistics, California, May 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ca.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition
4. California QuickFacts, Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06000.html
5. Think California is bad for business? Think again. Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2014, http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-toyota-departs-20140502-story.html
6. CMA vs. CPA vs. CFA: Which accounting credential is right for you? Grant Tilus, November 25, 2013, Rasmussen College, http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/business/blog/cma-vs-cpa-vs-cfa-which-accounting-credential/
7. Five Popular Reasons for Earning a CPA License, National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, https://www.nasba.org/licensure/gettingacpalicense/whygetlicensed/five-popular-reasons-for-earning-a-cpa-license/

California Accounting Schools