The decision to go back to school is a big one. Choosing the field that you wish to pursue can add a whole other layer of complexity to things. There are many paths to choose from, and if you’re looking for a career with both a great deal of flexibility and a promising income potential, accounting can be the way to go. An accounting degree will afford you various career options and offer a great deal of reliability. In fact, the accounting field is projected to have an 11% growth in employment between 2014 and 2024. When considering a future in accounting, we recommend you consider the following factors.
Associate or Bachelor’s?
Before you begin your accounting education, you’ll have the choice between obtaining an Associate Degree or a Bachelor’s Degree. An Associate Degree requires you to complete fewer credit hours than a Bachelor’s Degree, which enables you to begin your career even sooner. While pursuing this degree, you’ll learn the basics and take a wide variety of general accounting classes. So what kind of accounting career can you get with an Associate Degree? You can typically get entry-level accounting positions, especially for
at small businesses. Once you have an Associate Degree, you can continue pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree while you work if you’d like to further your education.
A Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting will grant you access to higher-paying jobs, such as corporate accounting. Most mid- or senior-level accounting positions usually require a Bachelor’s degree. In addition to everything learned at the Associate degree level, you’ll take courses in management accounting, auditing, and management theory, just to name a few. If you’re looking to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) you’ll have to earn your Bachelor’s Degree first. Most states even require you to have work experience before you can take the CPA exam. Don’t scoff at CPAs as being overachievers just yet; CPAs are among the most in demand and highly compensated individuals in the entire accounting industry!
There are unique CPA Certificate programs that allow you to finish just the required 150 hour coursework to sit for the Massachusetts CPA Exam. Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants web site, MSCPAonline.org.
The Places You’ll Go
Are you wondering what specific positions you can get with an accounting degree? The good news is that no matter which degree you earn in accounting, you will have the opportunity to work in a variety of sectors. (Everyone needs to file taxes, right?) Here are a few job titles that someone with an Associate
Degree in Accounting may possess:
- Payroll Clerk
- Accounting Assistant
A Bachelor’s degree can open the door to many more opportunities. With your CPA, you could even become a sole proprietor and have your own clients. Here are a few other options for accountants with their Bachelor’s:
- Staff Accountant
- Budget Analyst
- Tax Accountant
Show Me the Money
Just like any other field, the more education you have, the higher you can expect your salary to be. Here are some median annual wages from 2015 for accountants and auditors in the top industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Finance and insurance: $71,760
- Management of companies and enterprises: $69,560
- Manufacturing: $68,020
- Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services: $67,440
- Government: $65,180
In addition to these statistics, the highest 10 percent earned more than $118,930. In private accounting, there’s the potential to become a Chief Financial Officer, while in public accounting, the top of the ladder is the position of Partner.
There are definite opportunities for growth in the accounting field, but is this degree right for you? Only you can answer that. If you’re looking for a career with a lot of flexibility, with a strong salary, and that is reasonably recession proof, accounting may be for you. Whether you’re looking to open your own accounting firm, work for the federal government, or work as an in-house staff accountant, the career opportunities are endless and rewarding.