What can you do with an Accounting Degree?
Accounting, also known as the language of business, is all about the communication of financial information. It is a field of study that involves the use of data to determine an entity’s performance to inform future decisions and reporting of an organization’s financial information.
Are you passionate about money management, budgeting, and strategic financial planning? Are you good with numbers and are intrigued by the flow of money? If your answer is yes, consider specializing in this field of study by obtaining an accounting degree to kick start your career in the very lucrative financial sector. Read on for more information about the course, possible career paths, and specialization.
What is an Accounting Degree?
Accounting is the methodical process of recognizing, recording, calculating, categorizing, confirming, summarizing, interpreting, and communicating financial data. It is a field of study that is primarily focused on the methods of recording transactions, tracking financial records, conducting internal audits, reporting and evaluating financial information to the management, and providing informed recommendations on taxation matters to reveal profit or loss for a specific period. Additionally is used for illustrating the value and nature of an organization’s assets, liabilities and owners’ equity.
Generally, accounting is a multidisciplinary course that draws from various fields of study, such as information technology, business, statistics, law, economics, among others.
Students learn the systematic analysis, reporting, interpretation, and understanding of financial law. Additionally, students will acquire strong analytical, communication and critical thinking skills as well as build a strong foundation of business knowledge while exploring the current business landscape.
Accounting programs are known by different titles across the world. Some of these titles include Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Accounting, Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Accounting, and Bachelor of Accounting Science.
Although it is common to find most universities offering exclusive accounting degrees, it’s also possible to find these programs offered alongside other courses such as finance, business management, or economics as a joint degree.
Additionally, it is common to find general business degrees with a concentration in accounting, such as the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Accounting and Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) in Accounting. However, the majority of accounting degrees are accredited by the relevant professional bodies of accountants at the national level.
What are the requirements for an Accounting Degree?
Applicants are required to have a strong background in mathematics to qualify for an accounting program. Additionally, knowledge of statistics or business is an added advantage. Moreover, general IT and analytical skills are also essential.
What are the key skills for Accounting?
- Advanced understanding of accounting.
- Computer and technology skills, including competency in accounting software.
- Advanced quantitative and qualitative skills and techniques.
- Knowledge of the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).
- Advanced knowledge of regulatory issues in accounting.
- Business acumen and the ability to make related financial decisions.
- Mathematical and deductive reasoning.
- Strong analytical and problem-solving skills.
- Ability to analyze complex data sets.
Types of Accounting Degree Programs & Specializations
There are various types of specialization programs in this field of study. As such, several universities allow students to switch between accountancy courses after the first year of study to enable them to pursue areas that match well with their interests and abilities.
Generally, the first year of study will revolve around introductory courses to equip students with an overview and foundation in accountancy. Later on in the study, students can opt to specialize in specific accounting programs.
Below is a list of the topics you’re most likely going to cover:
- Income tax accounting
- Auditing theory and practice
- Accounting entities
- Cost accounting
- Introduction to financial accounting
- Financial accounting theory and practice
- Introduction to managerial accounting
- Administrative management
- Computerized accounting
- Principles of marketing
- Applied business statistics
- Financial reporting and auditing
- Entrepreneurial finance
- Investment portfolio management
- Professional standards and ethics of accounting
- Risk and strategic management
- Micro and macroeconomics
Some specializations in Accounting include:
This branch of accounting focuses on gathering, recording, assessment, and summarization of financial information to generate reports and statements as well as ensure adherence to legal, professional and capital market standards and external stakeholders.
Auditing focuses on analyzing and evaluating a company’s financial statements, developing a plan, and documenting financial activity. In this program, students will learn how to investigate and evaluate data, records, accounts, operations, and the performances of an institution, as well as how various procedures are used to formulate judgment and communicated through audit reports.
Management accounting focuses on the measurement, assessment, and reporting of accounting information for decision-making purposes within organizations.
Taxation and tax accounting focus on studying and interpretation of tax information and how to apply accounting principles to taxation as approved by tax laws. In this program, students will learn the history, policies, and regulations of taxation as well as the basic concepts of gross income, deductions, exclusions, adjusted gross income, credits, among others. Other topics that may be covered include federal income taxation, corporate taxation and individual/estate taxation.
Forensic accounting is all about using accounting principles within a stated standard to present results at a court of law. In this program, students will learn how to collect evidence, offer legal support and testify in court. They will learn all the fundamental legal aspects of accounting, such as accounting fraud investigation, fraud prevention techniques and gain a comprehensive understanding of the rules and regulations within forensic accounting.
Not for profit accounting
Nonprofit accounting refers to the systematic recording and reporting of business transactions in nonprofit organizations. Here students will obtain knowledge on various nonprofit accounting concepts such as net assets, donor restrictions, programs, management and administration, fundraising, financial statements such as the statement of activities, or the statement of financial position, among others.
Business assurance services
Business assurance services involve improving the context of information or improving information so that informed and presumably better decisions can be made. Here students will learn fundamental concepts involved in risk and investment assurances that are taken out to protect a business from possible terrible financial consequences.
Accounting information systems
Accounting information systems involve the structure used by businesses to collect, manage, store, process, retrieve and report its financial data that will be used by consultants, accountants, chief financial officers (CFOs), and business analysts during the decision making process.
Career Options for Accounting Majors
Accounting is among the most pursued degree by students and the most sought after by employees from all industries. As such, accounting majors can venture into multiple careers within the field of accounting in any industry. More so because number-crunching and the ability for businesses to maintain financial stability or achieve financial success all depend on accounting.
Generally, an accounting degree prepares students for varied and rapidly growing jobs in the financial sector. Some of these accounting jobs include:
- Certified Public Accountant
Certified Public Accountants are responsible for filing and preparing tax returns for both individuals and small businesses. Their duties revolve around financial planning, bookkeeping, preparation of government audits, and evaluation of financial information to ensure there are no errors, fraud, overspending, or misinformation in financial accounts.
Auditors are responsible for reviewing accounts of organizations or companies to ensure the legality and validity of financial records align with federal regulations. They also act as advisors and recommend potential risk aversion or cost savings measures, internal control procedures, and regulations.
- Accounting Manager
Account managers are responsible for supervising, monitoring and evaluating daily accounting activities. They establish financial status by developing and implementing systems for assessing, collecting, verifying and reporting financial information.
- Financial Manager
Financial managers are responsible for reviewing financial reports, monitoring accounts, formulating activity reports and financial forecasts. Additionally, they research methods to increase profitability and assess markets for business opportunities such as acquisitions, mergers or expansion.
- Investment Banker
Investment Bankers assist their customers to raise funds in capital markets by issuing debt or selling equity in the companies. Other responsibilities include helping clients with mergers and acquisitions as well as advising them on investment opportunities.
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Chief Financial Officers are responsible for leading, directing and managing finances as well as the accounting team. They oversee the processes for financial forecasting and budgets as well as financial reporting, financial planning and providing business with long-term advice.
- Forensic Accountant
Forensic accounting is responsible for examining financial records and accounts that can be used as proof or evidence in approval or disapproval of insurance claims, personal injury claims, among others.
- Financial Analyst
Financial analysts are responsible for improving the financial status by evaluating results, monitoring variances, recognizing trends, and suggesting relevant actions to the management. Additionally, they settle transactions by comparing and correcting data as well as maintain the database by verifying, entering, and backing up data.
- Environmental accountant
These professionals are responsible for drafting environmental policies and calculating how much a company will spend to implement such strategies as well as comply with legal regulations. These professionals usually work in the automotive, oil, mining, chemical, and manufacturing industries.
Actuaries are responsible for analyzing the financial costs of insecurity and risks. They use mathematics, financial theories and statistics to evaluate the risks of uncertainties and help clients and businesses to establish policies that reduce the cost of that risk.
- Cost estimator
Cost estimators are responsible for collecting and evaluating data to predict the money, time, materials and labour required to construct a building, manufacture a product, or provide a service.
- Management accountant
These professionals are responsible for providing suggestions about the financial implications of business decisions to support growth and profit. They prepare reports, financial statements, budgets, commentaries, among other financial documents.
- International tax manager
These professionals are responsible for reviewing and creating tax returns that meet the relevant regulations as well as developing strategic plans and goals for tax management, supporting and overseeing quality assurances, and audit efforts. Generally, international tax managers act as the point of contact for understanding regulations and maximizing earnings.
- Finance director
The Finance Director is responsible for reviewing, adhering and overseeing the budgets allocated to each department. They evaluate market trends and the financial climate to help senior executives to develop strategic plans for the future, interpret complex financial information and provide updates and information as required.
- Corporate controller
Corporate controllers are responsible for overseeing financial decisions by developing, monitoring and enforcing policies and procedures. Their duties basically revolve around the protection of assets through the establishment, monitoring, implementing internal controls and confirming financial conditions by performing audits as well as providing information to external auditors.
- Compliance officer
Compliance officers or compliance managers are responsible for ensuring that a company functions legally and ethically while meeting their business goals. They develop compliance programs, review company policies and recommend solutions to possible risks.
- Accounting Software Developer
Financial Software Developers perform a variety of duties revolving around writing or modifying software programs that are used in the financial industry for businesses and government-related organizations.
- Accounting Information Technology Manager
These professionals are responsible for coordinating the information technology activities of a company. They integrate accounting principles with software and information systems to develop a centralized location for storing an organization’s financial data. Additionally, they assess these data, identify and correct errors within the data.
- Accounting Professor
Accounting professors are responsible for compiling, administering and grading examinations or assigning work to others. Their duties revolve around teaching or lecturing and evaluating a student’s work or assignments and so on.
- Credit Analysis Manager
Credit analysis managers are responsible for creating and implementing procedures for evaluating the creditworthiness of prospective and current customers. Generally, they manage a group of credit analysts and approve requests for credit extensions based on analysts’ suggestions.
- Treasury Analyst
These professionals are responsible for managing and analyzing their employer’s financial activities. They oversee the cash flow, liability obligations, assets, and income. Generally, treasury analysts work in nonprofit organizations or related government agencies.
- Budget Analyst
Budget analysts are responsible for analyzing budget proposals to determine the optimal allocation of projection funds. They review budget proposals and request for funding, analyze spending needs and conduct a cost-benefit analysis, among other duties.
Stockbrokers, also known as share brokers are responsible for managing the financial portfolio of clients. They buy and sell securities such as stocks and shares for both private and commercial clients. They analyze the performance of shares and securities on the stock market and provide recommendations to clients
- Mortgage Adviser
Mortgage advisors are responsible for advising their clients about the best mortgage for their particular circumstances.
- Business Analyst
Business analysts are responsible for developing and monitoring data quality metrics to ensure business data and reporting needs are met. They create detailed business analysis, outline problems, opportunities, and solutions for businesses.