Certificates in Accounting

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Not everyone likes to work with numbers, and that may be one reason accounting and finance professionals are in demand. From accountants to financial analysts to personal financial advisors, people who can crunch numbers and balance the books are expected to see strong job growth in the coming years.

While bachelor and master's degrees in accounting are popular options, a certificate in accounting may also lead to job opportunities. These short term programs can often be completed in as little as a year or less, depending on the institution. Even better, you may not even need to travel to campus to complete your education. Many schools offer online certificates in accounting at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Why Get a Certificate in Accounting?

Certificates in accounting fall into two categories, undergraduate and graduate, and each type serves a different educational purpose.

Undergraduate certificates are intended for those without a college degree. They typically serve as an introduction to the field of accounting, and may be used to earn entry-level jobs such as that of a bookkeeper or accounting clerk. Some students might also find an undergraduate certificate is a good way to gauge whether the field is one in which they want to pursue a degree. Credits from some certificates can be transferred to a bachelor's degree program.

Meanwhile, graduate certificates are typically designed for those who already have a bachelor's degree. Some of these certificates provide general accounting instruction, while others might allow established professionals to specialize their practice. Certificate programs can also help to fulfill the education requirements needed to become a Certified Public Accountant.

The following chart looks at some careers that might interest graduates of accounting certificate programs:

Potential Occupation

Average Income (2015)

Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)

Bookkeeping, Accounting or Auditing Clerk



Accountant or Auditor



Budget Analyst



Financial Analyst



Cost Estimator



Personal Financial Advisors



Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

While bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks can typically begin work immediately with an undergraduate certificate in accounting, other positions in the field may require additional education or experience.

How Do You Enroll in an Online Certificate Program?

You'll need to first complete an application form, which can often be submitted online on the school's website. Along with the application, you may need to provide supporting documents such as transcripts from previous education. Some schools also charge a small fee to process your application.

Depending on the institution, you could receive acceptance within a few days to a few weeks. At that time, you should receive details regarding how to select classes and finish the enrollment process.

Filling Out a Request Form

There's no need to scour the internet for schools offering online certificates in accounting. You can save time by clicking on the "Search Schools" button on the right. Simply answer a few short questions to be connected to programs that may be of interest to you.

What's the Difference Between Online and Campus-Based Degrees?

Many colleges strive to ensure the quality of their online programs are of the same caliber as those offered on campus. The same curriculum may be used across platforms with the delivery being the only difference. Rather than in-person lectures and discussion groups, online certificate programs often feature video presentations, online chats, and message boards.

However, there can be some differences between the two formats. Some online schools allow for competency-based education. This allows students to quickly move through material they already know, and some schools may even offer credit for work experience.

Another difference is that many online programs can begin at any time. Rather than waiting for the start of a new school year, some certificates may have rolling start dates that allow students to begin their studies earlier than if they waited for a new semester to start on campus.

Why Is Online College Good for Certificates in Accounting?

There are several reasons to consider an online college for accounting. First, the field is one that can be easily taught through online methods. In addition, an online college offers those who live in rural areas or far from a college campus the chance to earn a certificate in accounting. Finally, there may be financial benefits to studying online. There is no need to pay for room and board or gasoline to commute. What's more, some online certificates may be earned on an accelerated schedule, getting you into the workplace quicker.

Does Location Matter for an Online Certificate in Accounting?

While most certificates in accounting don't have any campus requirements, you still may want to choose an online college with a convenient location. Accounting departments sometimes host career fairs or offer student support services that can only be accessed on campus. In addition, if you are earning a graduate certificate in accounting as part of your CPA preparation, you may want to be able to meet with other students for practice exams and study sessions.

Whether you are going to college for the first time or are already a professional in the field, an online certificate in accounting could help take your career to the next level. Learn more by requesting additional information from any of the colleges below.


  1. Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2015, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.bls.gov/oes/
  2. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/

Certificates in Accounting

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