Every enterprise needs precise and accurate accounting to keep it running smoothly from year to year, and not just anyone can be trusted to handle all the bookkeeping, auditing and reporting necessary to keep organizational finances in order. Iowa accounting schools prepare students for the challenges of professional accounting in a variety of settings, from international companies and entire governments to nonprofit organizations and individual portfolios, and they can lead to some of the most stable careers on the job market.
Online Accounting Programs in Iowa
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Iowa has 47 accounting schools within the borders of the state. The actual number of accounting programs available in to students in Iowa is potentially much greater than that, however, thanks to a growing number of national universities making use of online educational platforms to expand access to degree programs formerly only available to in-state students.
Whether nationwide or at home in Iowa, accounting programs tend to share a few central concepts in the general accounting portion of their curriculum. Here are a few of the courses that students at both campus-based and online Iowa accounting schools are likely to study at one point or another:
- Accounting information systems
- Federal income tax principles
- Asset valuation
- Business law
- Financial accounting
- Fraud examination and prevention
- Corporate governance
Graduates of Iowa accounting programs can then choose to take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, which can qualify you to work in a wider range of occupations and tends to improve your prospects for positions of increased responsibility and authority. In order to qualify for the Iowa CPA exam, candidates must complete one of four educational criteria:
- Earn a graduate degree with an accounting concentration from a program accredited by a reputable agency.
- Earn an MBA or other graduate degree in business from an accredited program with at least 24 credit hours of accounting coursework, including financial accounting, management accounting, auditing and taxation.
- Earn a bachelor's degree in business or accounting from an accredited program with the same accounting coursework requirements as above.
- Earn a bachelor's degree in any major concentration from an accredited institution and have completed at least 24 credit hours of business-related courses in addition to the accounting coursework requirements listed above.
For more information about requirements and other specifics of the Iowa CPA exam, check with the Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau or the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA).
What is the Career Outlook Like for Accountants in Iowa?
A degree from one of Iowa's accounting schools can prepare you for a number of careers, each with their own sets of challenges and responsibilities, and some are projected to add jobs to the market at a faster rate than others. Here are projections for employment growth between 2012 and 2022 for a few of the fastest-growing accounting and financial careers in Iowa, according to data from the Iowa Workforce Information Network (IWIN):
- Accountants and auditors: 16.6 percent
- Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks: 12.8 percent
- Credit analysts: 17.6 percent
- Financial analysts: 17.6 percent
- Personal financial advisors: 32.7 percent
- Tax preparers: 23.9 percent
Accountants in Iowa earned a median annual salary of $55,770 in 2014, according to data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with the bottom 10 percent of earners taking home $37,260 or less and the top 10 percent earning more than $92,010. Here are the 2014 mean annual salaries for a variety of positions commonly accessible to graduates of Iowa accounting programs, according to BLS data:
- Budget analyst: $68,180
- Credit analyst: $69,650
- Financial analyst: $76,650
- Personal financial advisor: $81,840
- Tax examiner or collector: $62,650
- Tax preparer: $33,630
Accountants and auditors in the Des Moines, Iowa City and Council Bluffs areas earned mean salaries above the statewide average, with the area encompassing Council Bluffs and neighboring Omaha, NE, boasting the highest metropolitan pay in the state at $69,240 in 2014.
What are Accounting Specializations in Iowa?
Accounting programs in Iowa may also give you the opportunity to specialize in one or more areas of accounting practice. Here are a few specializations available at Iowa accounting schools
Accounting degrees at the master's level are typically offered as either Master of Accountancy or Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees with an accounting specialty. Studying complementary subjects such as business law, finance, database management or marketing alongside your core accounting coursework can help you develop a well-rounded professional skillset for the next level of your career.
College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed October 26, 2015, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=IA&p=52.0301+52.0305+30.1601+52.0304+52.0399
Iowa Long Term Occupational Projections 2012-2022, Iowa Workforce Information Network, accessed October 26, 2015, http://iwin.iwd.state.ia.us/iowa/ArticleReader?itemid=00003928
Accountants and Auditors, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed October 26, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132011.htm
Iowa, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed October 26, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_IA.htm
Five Popular Reasons for Earning a CPA License, National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, accessed October 26, 2015, https://www.nasba.org/licensure/gettingacpalicense/whygetlicensed/five-popular-reasons-for-earning-a-cpa-license/
Accountancy FAQ CPA Exam Candidates, Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau, accessed October 26, 2015, https://plb.iowa.gov/documents/accountancy-faq-cpa-exam-candidates
Uniform CPA Examination FAQs - General Information, American Institute of CPAs, accessed October 26, 2015, http://www.aicpa.org/BecomeACPA/CPAExam/ForCandidates/FAQ/Pages/computer_faqs_1.aspx
School pages, accessed October 26, 2015: M.Ac. Specializations, The University of Iowa, http://tippie.uiowa.edu/accounting/mac/specializations.cfm; Accounting Degree Specialization, DeVry University, http://www.devry.edu/degree-programs/business-management/accounting-degree-specialization.html; Accounting, The University of Iowa, http://catalog.registrar.uiowa.edu/registrar/catalog/business/accounting/index.html; Bachelor of Business Administration - Accounting Requirements, The University of Iowa, http://tippie.uiowa.edu/undergraduate/documents/programs/accounting2014_2015.pdf; Courses, Accounting, Iowa State University, http://catalog.iastate.edu/collegeofbusiness/accounting/#courseinventory