Online degree programs in accounting are designed to provide students with the analytical and math skills to become accounting clerks, accountants and top financial executives. (1-8) Professionals in accounting typically review financial reports, check figures, prepare taxes and organize financial records. (1-3) They could find career opportunities in bookkeeping services, wholesale trade, government, manufacturing, health care and corporations. (1, 2, 3)
Career Options for Online Accounting Programs
Over the last decade, online education has exploded, making it easier than ever before for accounting students to find programs that can be completed online. Accounting students can find online degree programs from the associate to the doctoral level at several colleges and universities. (5-8) These programs, which are available in fully online, partially online, full-time and part-time formats, are designed to provide students with a solid foundation in financial accounting, management, economics, taxation and qualitative methods. Most programs include a capstone or real-world experience that allows students to gain hands-on training with accounting applications. Graduate programs may include thesis or dissertation requirements. (5-8)
Job opportunities for graduates typically vary based upon the level of education. Graduates of an associate degree program could qualify for careers as a bookkeeper or accounting clerk, while bachelor’s degree holders could find positions as entry-level accountants and auditors. (6,7) Students seeking to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) typically complete an online master’s degree program, since most state’s Board of Accountancy requires accountants to have 150 credit hours of education before taking the CPA exam. (1, 8) Additionally, individuals that complete a doctoral degree program in accounting could work as a researcher, professor or chief financial officer. (5)
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the salaries for these careers can vary greatly, with those with higher education typically making higher wages. In May 2013, business and financial operations occupations as a whole had mean wages of $71,020. Listed below are the mean wages in 2013 for the three most common careers for graduates with an online accounting degree, according to the BLS. (4)
- Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks: $37,250
- Accountants and Auditors: $72,500
- Chief Financial Officers (Chief Executives): $178,400
Online accounting graduates typically work full-time in an office setting crunching numbers or reviewing financial reports. While most work a standard work schedule, overtime and long hours should be expected for these professionals during tax season and the end of the fiscal year. Travel to meet clients or attend meetings is common among accounting professionals. (1-3)
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Accountant and Auditor, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-3 (visited October 14, 2014).
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/bookkeeping-accounting-and-auditing-clerks.htm#tab-3 (visited October 14, 2014).
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Chief Executives, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/top-executives.htm#tab-3 (visited October 14, 2014).
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2014-15 Edition, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oes/2013/may/oes_nat.htm#13-0000 (visited October 14, 2014).
5. Capella University, PhD Accounting specialization, on the Internet at http://www.capella.edu/online-degrees/phd-accounting/ (visited October 14, 2014).
6. Southern New Hampshire University, Online Accounting Degree: AS in Accounting, on the Internet at http://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/undergraduate-degrees/accounting-AS-online.asp (visited October 14, 2014).
7. Kaplan University, Bachelor of Science in Accounting, on the Internet at http://www.kaplanuniversity.edu/business/accounting-bachelor-degree.aspx (visited October 14, 2014).
8. Liberty University, Master of Science in Accounting, on the Internet at http://www.liberty.edu/online/masters/accounting/ (visited October 14, 2014).