What can you do with an accounting degree? Have you wondered whether a position in the accounting industry might be a good fit for you? Knowing what skills you need and what career paths you can pursue with a degree in accounting is a good first step.
One encouraging factor is that job growth for accountants and auditors is expected to be about 13 percent from 2012 through 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).1 And historically, this is a stable industry.
What You Can Learn in an Accounting Degree Program
Learning the skills you need through an accounting degree program is the first step, since about 90 percent of jobs require a bachelor's degree as a minimum job requirement to start2. A well-rounded program can provide you with skills to:
- Assess and solve issues in a business environment by applying the principles of finance and accounting.
- Implement quantitative tools to analyze contemporary business functions and practices.
- Recognize the connection between finance concepts and their use in the global markets.
- Use current operations and marketing management practices and principles to increase efficiency and productivity.
Courses can focus on topics ranging from principles of accounting, managerial accounting and tax accounting to auditing, accounting information systems, risk management and more.
Jobs with an Accounting Degree
According to a Burning Glass analysis of national jobs data, the top job titles that call for a bachelor's degree in accounting include3:
- Financial Analyst
- Staff Accounting
- Accounting Manager
- Tax Manager
- Internal Auditor
Accountants are employed in nearly all industries and are responsible for the financial end of an organization, ensuring that financial records, reports, budgets and tax forms are prepared in an accurate and timely manner. A bachelor's degree is typically a minimum requirement, though many accountants opt for additional certification as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).4 The median pay for accountants and auditors was $63,550 per year in 2012.5
Duties for accountants - and related titles such as staff accountant, accounting manager, accounting supervisor and others - can include the following6:
- Prepare, examine, or analyze accounting records, financial statements, or other financial reports to assess accuracy, completeness, and conformance to reporting and procedural standards.
- Develop, implement, modify, and document recordkeeping and accounting systems, making use of current computer technology.
- Compute taxes owed and prepare tax returns, ensuring compliance with payment, reporting or other tax requirements.
- Advise clients in areas such as compensation, employee health care benefits, the design of accounting or data processing systems, or long-range tax or estate plans.
- Develop, maintain, and analyze budgets, preparing periodic reports that compare budgeted costs to actual costs.
- Provide internal and external auditing services for businesses or individuals.
- Analyze business operations, trends, costs, revenues, financial commitments, and obligations, to project future revenues and expenses or to provide advice.
Top Skills for an Accounting Degree
Good training and a degree in accounting can give you a good start on your accounting career path. But what specialized skills are employers looking for? These are among the most in-demand:
- Financial reporting
- Financial analysis
- Financial statements
- Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)
- Public accounting
- Account reconciliation
Jobs in accounting also call for additional skills, including soft skills, which can be just as important to your success in the field. These include communication skills, organizational skills, writing and research8.
Top Industries for an Accounting Degree
Though every industry needs accountants, the industries with the highest demand for the role are professional, scientific and technical services; credit intermediation and related activities; insurance carriers and related activities; securities, commodity contracts and other financial investments and related activities; and education services. 7
Ready to learn more? Explore AIU's accounting degrees.
The presence of specific potential jobs on this list does not guarantee availability of career opportunities. All statistics referenced are national historical averages and the figures in your area and at the time of your job search may be different.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Accountants and Auditors, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm (visited 1/06/2015).
2. Labor/Insight (Burning Glass Technologies), 1/1/13-1/31/13
3. Labor/Insight (Burning Glass Technologies), 1/1/13-1/31/13
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Accountants and Auditors, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-4, (visited 1/06/2015)
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Accountants and Auditors, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-4, (visited 1/06/2015)
6. Summary Report for Accountants, O*NET OnLine, on the Internet at http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/13-2011.01 (visited1/06/2015).
7. Labor/Insight (Burning Glass Technologies), 1/1/13-1/31/13
8. Labor/Insight (Burning Glass Technologies), 1/1/13-1/31/13