Accounting is an integral component of the business world, at the ground floor of today's financial infrastructure. It is a fundamental function of every business, from the independently owned bookstore to the Fortune 500 technology company.
At its core, accounting deals with the recording, analyzing and reporting of financial transactions. However, it is a broad and diverse field with multiple career paths and professional designations that allow accounting professionals to handle a growing list of more complex financial transactions and responsibilities.
In 2014, accounting was ranked as one of the best jobs in the country by both CareerCast and U.S. News and World Report. On its list of top 200 jobs, CareerCast ranked accounting #40, while US News and World Report ranked accounting #39 on its list of top 100 jobs in 2014. With consistent employment growth, above average earning potential and multiple options for business careers, it can be easy to see why accounting is consistently named to best jobs lists year-after-year.
Accounting degree options
Accounting provides several educational avenues for prospective students, teaching students about the theoretical and practical fundamentals of the practice. Accounting degrees are available at every academic level, from certificates to Ph.D. degrees. Depending on the university or college, students may be able to complete their education in different settings, including online, blended or campus-based.
Certificate/diploma: Students seeking to enter the accounting industry without earning a degree may be able to complete a diploma or post-secondary certificate program in bookkeeping and general accounting, preparing them for basic entry-level positions in the field.
Associate degree: This degree, which can be earned in as little as two years, traditionally focuses on accounting basics, including taxation, payroll accounting and more. It can prepare students for entry-level positions such as bookkeeper or billing clerk.
Bachelor's degree: Considered the minimum educational requirement for employment as an accountant, the bachelor's degree expands upon the principles of accounting, covering more complex topics such as business law, accounting information systems, cost accounting, federal tax codes and more.
Master's degree: Graduate programs traditionally focus on developing managerial skills in students, allowing them to complete research into specializations such as forensic accounting, public accounting, auditing and more.
Doctoral degree (Ph.D.): The most advanced accounting degree, Ph.D programs are designed for individuals who want to pursue academic research or potentially pursue executive management opportunities. In addition to the Ph.D., students may also complete a Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A) degree