Associate’s degree programs in accounting are designed to develop students’ competencies in areas like financial statement analysis, payroll accounting, cost accounting, finance, and business law. An accounting associate’s degree takes approximately two years to complete and equips you with the foundation in basic accounting necessary to pursue a variety of entry-level accounting positions, including bookkeeper, payroll clerk, accounts receivable clerk or auditing clerk. Earn your associate’s degree in accounting to take the first step towards a rewarding career.
How to Earn an Accounting Associate’s Degree
Accounting associate’s degree programs are offered at technical schools and community colleges. The prerequisite for an associate’s degree is usually a high school diploma or GED. Some schools may also have minimum high school GPA or standardized test score requirements. Both Associate in Arts (AA) and Associate in Science (AS) degrees in accounting are available. Students in AA programs typically focus on the social sciences and humanities, while students in AS programs must complete additional credits in math and science.
To earn an associate’s degree, students usually need to fulfill 60 credit hours. AA and AS degrees are general transfer degrees, which indicate that students have completed a course of study equivalent to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree program. Online accounting programs are also available to provide students who are unable to pursue their education in a traditional classroom with greater flexibility. Courses that students in an accounting program might be required to take include the following:
- Applied statistics
- Managerial accounting
- Cost accounting
- Accounting theory and applications
- Introduction to individual income taxation
Career and Education Advancement Opportunities
There is a growing demand for accounting professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks is expected to grow 14% from 2010 to 2020. Stricter regulation in the financial sector will likely create more job opportunities. Although these positions only require applicants to have a high school diploma at minimum, employers typically prefer candidates who have a postsecondary education.
The median annual wage of bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks was $35,170 in 2012. Bookkeepers with work experience may choose to seek certification from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers or the National Bookkeepers Association to enhance their job prospects.
Associate’s degree holders also have the option to transfer their credits to a four-year school and pursue a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Keep in mind that most accountant and auditor positions require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. A professional certificate in accounting, such as the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification, may also provide graduates with a competitive advantage in the job market. Most states require CPA exam candidates to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.
Whether you are hoping to enter the job market in a short period of time or would like to earn a two-year degree as a stepping stone to a bachelor’s, an associate’s degree in accounting could be your start to an accounting career. Through an accounting program you could receive an introduction to the accounting discipline and prepares yourself to perform a broad range of accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting activities for governments, corporations, non-profits, and individuals. Start pursuing an associate’s degree in accounting today to obtain the skills needed to succeed in this growing industry.