Accounting is an important and growing industry in Colorado, employing 13 accountants for every 1,000 jobs in the state. Preparing for a career in accounting -- a diverse field -- typically begins with completing a program of study at the post-secondary level. The type of education depends on the professional goals of the student, and community colleges and universities throughout the state offer a comprehensive selection of not only degree types but major concentrations, permitting students to develop theoretical and practical knowledge in areas like financial examination, tax preparation or cost estimating.
Online Accounting Degree Programs in Colorado
Available through multiple learning formats, including campus, online or hybrid (online and on-campus) accounting degree programs can be tailored to fit the needs of prospective students. Typically, students may select from one of four levels of instruction: diploma, associate, bachelor's and master's. There are also doctoral programs in accounting, designed to prepare individuals to conduct academic scholarship or to pursue research-based professions.
It is important to note that students desiring to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Managerial Accountant (CMA), Accredited Business Accountant (ABA) or Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) must meet minimum educational requirements and complete additional certification training in order to earn a license to practice.
Diploma: Designed to prepare graduates for entry-level bookkeeping positions, diploma programs in accounting focus on teaching students about basic finance and accounting principles and concepts.
Associate: Like the diploma, associate degree programs aim to provide students with industry-focused training, which generally leads to entry-level employment in a broader array of career choices, such as tax preparer, payroll professional, accounting assistant, or bookkeeper.
Bachelor's Degrees: The bachelor's degree in accounting is the traditional educational requirement to become an accountant and the minimum educational requirement to start the process of earning a Certified Public Accountant license (CPA). These programs typically prepare students to pursue employment in one of four areas: management accounting, government accounting, public accounting or internal auditing.
Master's: An advanced program of study, the master's degree enhances and builds upon the principles of accounting learned at the undergraduate level. In turn, students are able to expand the scope of their theoretical knowledge of the practice, develop an understanding of industry trends, landmark regulations like the Sarbanes-Oxley act, regulatory issues and build technical accounting skills.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), nearly 40 universities and colleges offered associate, bachelor's or master's degree programs in accounting or accounting-related areas of study, including auditing, accounting technology, accounting and finance and accounting and business management.
The universities that conferred the largest number of accounting degrees in Colorado in 2013, based on NCES numbers, included Colorado Technical University-Online (750), Metropolitan State University of Denver (316), Regis University (292), University of Denver (262) and University of Colorado-Denver (134).
|Institution||Accounting Degree Type||Number of Degrees Conferred (2013)|
|Colorado Technical University-Online|
|Metropolitan State University of Denver|
|University of Denver|
|University of Colorado Denver|
Source: National Center for Education Statistics, 2013
Career Opportunities for Accounting Graduates in Colorado
Individuals who complete a program of study in accounting can pursue a variety of professional career paths in the state, from working for major accounting firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG or Ernst & Young to health systems or to government organizations. Outside of dominant accounting firms like Ernst & Young, the state is well-represented by smaller independent firms across the state, such as the following:
- BKD LLP (Colorado Springs)
- Eger & Company, PC (Fort Collins)
- Compton Accounting, LLC (Loveland)
- Linford & Company LLP (Englewood)
- Brown, Ellis, & Company (Golden)
Colorado has the second highest concentration of accountants and auditors in the U.S., according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Additionally, employment of accounting-related jobs in Colorado is projected to outpace national employment rates between 2012 and 2022 -- a good sign for prospective students.
Below is a table that includes BLS numbers on the average wages for accounting careers* in Colorado.
|Occupation||Average Salaries in Colorado (2013)|
|Accountants and Auditors||$72,110|
|Bookkeeping, Accounting & Auditing Clerks||$37,020|
|Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents||$62,420|
* Salaries and employment opportunities may vary based on experience, education, location and other factors.
College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, 2013, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator
Bureau of Labor Statistics Colorado Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_co.htm
Labor Market Information, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, http://www.colmigateway.com
Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, January 2015, https://www.colorado.gov/cdle
Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm