Accounting is a profession that will always have a place of prominence within the business world. After all, it's always going to be necessary to make sure that financial records are kept accurately, and that they're filed and made available appropriately. It's always going to be the case that people are going to pay taxes, and they're always going to need someone who knows what he or she is doing to help out with that process.
So, if you're looking for an element of long term job security, earning an accounting degree is a good idea.
What will it take to earn an accounting degree?
Earning an accounting degree will require a fair amount of work and expertise, but it's still doable for anyone interested, especially if you're pursuing an accounting degree at the undergraduate level. A bachelor's degree in accounting is offered by a number of different universities and educational institutions throughout the country, and finding a program through which one can secure an accounting degree shouldn't be terribly difficult.
What do I get from an accounting degree?
An accounting degree would enable an individual to function as an accountant in a variety of capacities. These include, but are not limited to, public accounting, management accounting, internal auditing, and governmental auditing. Public accountants would perform many of the traditional accounting tasks, such as auditing, doing taxes, and performing as a consultant, for a variety of potential clients, including corporations and individual citizens. Management accountants are more likely to do work specifically for companies, focused on budgeting, performance evaluations, and other similar inter-company issues. Government accountants perform similar work for government organizations, while auditors might work for organizations such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to perform audits of citizens' taxes.
An undergraduate accounting degree will often be enough, in terms of accounting education, to facilitate an individual's entrance into the career of accountancy, although this will likely vary from place to place. For example, sometimes, one might be able to obtain a job in accountancy while holding a degree in a related field, as opposed to an out and out accounting degree. In other instances, an individual might only be able to secure a position with an accounting firm if he or she holds a master's degree in accounting, or a master of business administration (MBA) degree with a focus on accounting.
Accounting degrees might not even be necessary for individuals who attend some form of junior college or distance learning course which provides them with the skills they need to obtain junior level clerking or accounting positions, as they could then advance from those positions into higher positions in the field of accountancy. This path might be a good course for someone who does not have the time or the money to pursue a full education in accountancy through more traditional means.
Becoming a CPA after earning an accounting degree
Simply obtaining an accounting degree will not alone be enough to secure the individual in question a position in the field of accountancy. An individual interested in becoming an accountant will also likely be required to become a Certified Public Accountant, or CPA, in order to be legally allowed to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Most accountants who would be required to become CPAs are those working with public companies which must file such reports with the SEC. In order to become a CPA, an accountant must pass an exam and meet the specific requirements of his or her state's Board of Accountancy. An accounting degree is not necessarily one of those requirements, but it is very likely to be.
In general, obtaining an accounting degree will be a great boon for anyone interested in entering the field of accountancy, both in terms of the knowledge that would be gained in pursuit of that degree, and in terms of the boost in prestige that would arise from having such a degree, as compared to potential competitors who would not have such a degree.
If you're interested in learning more about accounting degrees at the graduate level, visit Peterson's sections on the the master's in accounting and forensic accounting degree.