An accounting bachelor’s degree is the principal academic degree awarded in the accounting field. Many four-year colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degree programs in accounting, both online and on campus. These programs typically require students to complete a minimum of 120 semester credits, providing them with broad training in business and intensive preparation in accounting. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in accounting can be your first step towards a career as an accountant.
Types of Accounting Bachelor’s Degree Programs
The Bachelor of Arts (BA) and the Bachelor of Science (BS) are the two main types of bachelor’s degree programs in the accounting field. A BA is generally a broad-based program with more elective hours, while the BS is designed to equip students with a stronger technical background and is more specialized in nature.
BS programs include more math and science courses and less elective courses, which results in a more concentrated major. BA programs are better suited to students who want to explore other academic fields while pursing an accounting major, and BS programs are ideal for those who wish to receive a solid technical foundation in order to earn a graduate degree in accounting down the line.
Overview of a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting
The prerequisite to enter a bachelor’s degree program is generally a high-school diploma or GED. Students in bachelor’s degree programs in the accounting field start out by fulfilling general education requirements in subjects outside of business, such as the social sciences and physical sciences. They are then required to take business and accounting courses, such as the following:
- Financial accounting
- Cost accounting
- Accounting systems
- Business law
- Organizational behavior
- Management accounting
Next Steps After Graduation
A bachelor’s degree in accounting could qualify you for entry-level to mid-level accounting positions, prepare you to sit for the CPA exam or serve as a stepping-stone to accounting master’s degree programs. Accounting grads develop skills in:
- Managerial accounting
- Financial reporting
- Internal and external auditing
- Accounting systems
- Financial analysis
Obtaining a bachelor’s degree can help individuals prepare for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, but is not sufficient alone for meeting CPA licensing requirements in most states. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of 2010, 46 states and the District of Columbia require CPA candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college coursework. In order to help students meet the 150-hour requirement, a growing number of colleges and universities are offering five-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in accounting.
Career Opportunities in Accounting
Students in accounting programs at the bachelor’s level obtain the foundational knowledge needed to pursue accounting positions in business, government, and non-profit organizations. Working to help an organization run efficiently, accountants and auditors are responsible for preparing and analyzing financial records. They ensure that all documents are accurate and compliant and that taxes are paid on time.
Although the accounting field is fairly competitive, a bachelor’s degree combined with a professional license can give students access to a range of excellent career opportunities, including:
- Tax accountant
- Financial analyst
- Forensic accountant
- IRS agent
- Chief financial officer
- Public accountant
- Management accountant
- Government accountant
- Internal auditor
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that accounting and auditing positions should increase about as fast as average at a rate of 16% through 2020. In light of corporate scandals which have resulted in stricter financial regulations, there is an increased demand for accountants, both internally and externally, to ensure that organizations are compliant. Salaries for accountants will vary by location, organization, and experience level. In 2012, the median annual salary for accountants and auditors was $63,550. The bottom 10% earned $39,930, and the top 10% earned more than $111,510.
If you have a passion for numbers and are detail-oriented, a career in accounting may be right for you. Start exploring accounting bachelor’s degree programs today to make your dream of becoming an accounting professional a reality.