By Brian Fairbanks
Are you considering becoming an accountant or getting your bachelor's degree in accounting? An online accounting degree can offer several opportunities, including enabling you to start your own business and preparing you for various related fields as an accountant.
Whether you're interested in forensic accounting, bookkeeping or tax preparation, having a bachelor's degree in accounting can provide the skills and foundation to pursue a career as an accountant. While an accounting degree doesn’t directly lead to becoming a certified public accountant (CPA), it can be helpful in pursuing licensure and that career path.
If a career in accounting is something you're thinking about, set yourself on the right path with these answers to frequently asked questions about accountants and accounting degrees and see why it may be the right choice for you.
An accounting degree can provide the foundational skills for a wide range of accounting careers, including bookkeeping, forensic accounting or working as an auditor. There’s also the option to pursue a career as a CPA, though that requires additional education and licensure. Accountants with degrees may start their own accounting firms, and best of all, an MBA usually isn't required for entry-level roles in this field. A bachelor's degree can provide the necessary foundation to help you get started.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants earned a median salary of $71,550 in 2019, or more than $34 an hour. Entry-level jobs, however, generally require you to have earned your Bachelor of Accounting first.
Accountants analyze financial information or perform other financial activities with an organization. In doing so, they can serve in a variety of roles, including an in-house or freelance bookkeeper or auditor, or in other areas within the accounting world.
We are all aware of tax season — when most people file their income taxes — but accountants work year-round, especially if they are employed within an organization. During tax season, accountants can expect to be very busy. And because businesses, freelancers, remote workers and other groups file at different times of the year, “tax season” can occur several times a year, especially for those filing quarterly income tax reports.
Despite this ongoing work, you will likely be inundated with clients needing your services mainly during the first four months of each year. These clients generally hire accountants to take care of filing federal and state tax returns.
An accounting program graduate may also choose to take prep courses that prepare him/her to test for licensure as a certified public accountant (CPA). A CPA is a designation earned for passing an exam and is widely recognized as denoting an expert in the field.
Those interested in becoming a CPA will need additional post-bachelor’s credits to be eligible for the CPA exam (150 credits compared with the 120 often required for a bachelor’s degree). You should also be aware that there are some state-specific requirements for becoming a CPA, such as in Texas. University of Phoenix, however, does not offer an outcome that leads to CPA licensure.
Career paths as an auditor can include both public sector jobs and private firms, where you might prepare financial reports and almost always “audit” bookkeeping, tax returns and other tax forms. An auditor’s usual responsibilities include reviewing financial documents prepared by a company to ensure compliance and double-checking the math to help prevent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from performing an audit of the company. An auditor's work could also involve protecting the business from severe fines, bad publicity and even closure.
The median salary for an auditor, which depends on location and experience, is $71,150 a year, according to BLS.
Examining officers, also known as tax examiners, tax collectors or revenue agents, earned a median salary of $54,890 in 2019, or over $1,000 a week, according to BLS. They also usually need to have a bachelor's degree before entering this field.
Once you have your bachelor's in accounting, you could look for roles as a tax examiner, which can include work in the public sector, such as state, local and federal government offices. Common responsibilities include a sort of detailed detective work, such as reviewing the bookkeeping, income tax filings and other paperwork that tax bureaus have flagged. That means you'll likely be working on audits or investigating a person or company's financial records and tax filings.
Other responsibilities may include identifying incorrect math, suspicious financial activity and improper tax deductions. If investigating financial transactions sounds exciting, this may be your ideal career.
As you might imagine, an accounting supervisor oversees a staff of accountants, especially in accounts payable and receivable. After working on ledgers, directly handling some of your own clients for your accounting firm and showing that you can produce thorough, spotless work on financial records, you could move into a supervisor role.
Many account supervisors handle staffing, from interviewing potential recruits to onboarding hires and conducting training seminars for accountants on your team or the company's staff.
University of Phoenix's accounting program can teach you what you need to know as an accountant in the real world and gain the skills to help organizations run efficiently and make the proper financial decisions. Here's just the beginning of what you’ll learn:
In the University of Phoenix program, you'll have nearly two dozen course options to choose from. Courses within a program at the bachelor’s level are 5 weeks long, and a degree can typically be earned in four years. Polish your critical thinking and communications skills, set aside a few hours per week and get ready to learn about ethics, managing a team of accountants and the fundamentals of the accounting trade.
Q: Can I get my accounting degree online?
A: Yes! People interested in becoming accounting majors can learn entirely online, although there are some optional on-campus offerings. Learn more about getting your Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree from University of Phoenix. However, please know that University of Phoenix does not offer a degree track to become a CPA.
Q: How much do accounting majors make?
A: Salary ranges depend on location, education level, competition, skills, licensure and a variety of other professional factors. The median salary for accountants is $71,550 per year, according to BLS. Jobs for accountants can include working at accounting chains, or someone may choose to open their own accounting firm. Accountants who work for major corporations in large metropolitan areas may earn more working on important financial records.
Q: Why get a degree from University of Phoenix?
A: In addition to instructors with years of real-world experience, easy-to-follow programs and quick degree programs, University of Phoenix offers:
If you are ready to go beyond spreadsheets and number crunching, a Bachelor of Science in Accounting will provide an opportunity to explore a range of business disciplines and gain a better understanding of accounting functions across industries. To learn more about an MBA or Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree, visit phoenix.edu.
About University of Phoenix
As pioneers in online higher education since 1989, University of Phoenix is an accredited online university for working adults. We are proud to offer quality educational pathways through flexible, career-focused online degrees, certificates and professional development courses that fit into your life and options to save you time and money. Our students are supported every step of the way, including career services for life.
Let us help you take the most direct path to your future career goals. We’re ready when you are.
More than 100 online programs aligned to 300+ occupations.
Online courses and certificates
Explore professional development and earn credentials.
Ways to save
Learn ways you can save as you pursue your goals.