How to Major in Accounting
If you can see yourself crunching numbers for an accounting firm, helping a small business secure startup funding, or directing big financial decisions for a major corporation, an accounting major is a first step in the right direction. Read on to find out what you can expect as an Accounting Major.
Accounting is a fast-growing field filled with opportunities for professional advancement and high earning power. Majoring in accounting will give you an inside track on landing a great job with excellent long-term security, whether you’re interested in becoming a public accountant or earning your state license and becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Ready to start earning this degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world? Get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Accounting.
Or read on to find out what you can expect as an Accounting Major.
5 Reasons to Major in Accounting
1. Accounting majors are always in high demand.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of accounting jobs on the market is expected to grow by 6% between now and 2028. This means that the accounting industry will add more than 90,000 jobs over the next decade.
2. Accounting majors can work in any industry.
Companies and organizations of every shape and size require accountants, auditors, financial consultants, and/or financial officers. Whether you see yourself in retail, service, or hospitality; in entertainment; sports, or higher education—-your accounting skills can help you land a career in the industry of your choice.
3. Accounting majors have high earning power.
In addition to being in-demand, accounting majors are generally well paid. The BLS reports that the median pay for accountants and auditors was $71,550 in 2019. If you can parlay your accounting skills into a leadership role, you could earn considerably more.
4. Accounting majors gain valuable skills.
Whatever your career goals, majoring in accounting will arm you with a number of valuable skills including problem-solving, organizational, and analytical skills. Whether you apply these skills directly to a career in accounting or into another facet of business, your education will make you highly employable.
5. Accounting majors are highly influential.
As an accounting major, you’ll have specialized knowledge of the way that financial decisions can impact business outcomes. This means you could have a direct influence on your organization’s decision-making. In fact, as a leader in your field, your decisions could influence practices throughout your industry. Today, top influencers in Accounting are breaking new ground in Entrepreneurship; Corporate Tax Planning; Investing, and much more.
Find out who the Most Influential People are in Accounting today!
What Kinds of Accounting Degrees Are There?
The level of accounting degree you earn will connect directly to your eligibility for certain professional opportunities. For instance, while you would qualify to work as a public accountant with a Bachelor of Accounting, you would need to complete a graduate program before qualifying to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). While an Accounting Major is a great starting point, consider your eventual career goals as you determine whether or not to pursue an advanced degree:
- Associate of Science (AS) in Accounting/Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Accounting: The associate level degree in accounting will typically require 1 to 2 years for completion. This foundational degree can create entry-level opportunities in bookkeeping, clerical support, or administrative assistance. It can also give you an affordable head-start on your bachelor’s degree.
- Bachelor of Accounting (B.Acy.): This popular college major is both the basic threshold for becoming a public accountant and a necessary step on the way to becoming a CPA. You can complete this degree program in four years. This will qualify you to provide financial reporting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and other general accounting functions for a wide range of businesses. It can also prepare you to pursue an advanced degree in accounting, which you’ll require to become a CPA.
- Master of Accounting (MAcc): If you’ve already earned your bachelor’s degree in accounting, you can complete a master’s degree program in one year. A Master’s degree is the basic threshold for pursuing certification as a licensed public accountant. (Alternately, you may also qualify for CPA licensure as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in accounting.) In order to become a CPA, you’ll also need to log a specified number of professional hours as well as sit for a state licensure exam. This certification would give you access to leadership roles as a practicing accountant or a financial officer, in either the accounting field or in the industry of your choice.
- PhD in Accounting: The doctoral is a terminal degree in accounting, and will typically require between 3 and 5 years for completion. This degree is recommended for students interested in conducting field research or pursuing a professorship in accounting.
*Note: Many, but not all, degree programs offer the choice between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Likewise, many, but not all, advanced degree programs offer a choice between Master of Arts, and Master of Science degrees. In most cases, the primary difference is the diversity of course offerings. “Science” degree courses will focus almost entirely on the Major discipline, with a deep dive into a specific concentration, including laboratory, clinical or practicum experience. An “Arts” degree will provide a more well-rounded curriculum which includes both core/concentration courses and a selection of humanities and electives. The type of degree you choose will depend both on your school’s offerings and your career/educational goals. Moreover, there are sometimes numerous variations in the way that colleges name and categorize majors. The degree types identified here above are some of the common naming variations, but may not be all-encompassing.
Thinking of a graduate degree in accounting? Check out What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Accounting? for more information on obtaining a graduate degree in this field.
What Are Some Popular Accounting Concentrations?
Your “concentration” refers to a specific area of focus within your major. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides a complete listing of college degree programs and concentrations (Classification for Instructional Programs), as sourced from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). According to IPEDS, the following are among the most popular Accounting concentrations:
- Accounting (General)
- Accounting Technology
- Accounting and Finance
- Accounting and Business/Management
- Accounting and Related Services
What Courses Will I Take as an Accounting Major?
Your concentration will determine many of the courses you’ll take as an Accounting major. Likewise, you will be required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as budget analysis and financial reporting. Your major will also give you a chance to select from an array of courses touching on various aspects of finance, business, and commerce.
Common Accounting courses include:
- Introduction to Financial Accounting
- Business Law
- Business Ethics
- Cost Analysis
- Global Economics
- Financial Statements and Reporting
What Can I Do With a Major in Accounting?
Majoring in accounting will not only place you in high-demand for well-paying jobs, but you’ll also have a lot of options, both in terms of the jobs for which you qualify and the variety of industries in which you could work. Your Accounting major can lead to a wide range of career opportunities, including these top jobs:
- Accountants and Auditors
- Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks
- Tax Examiners and Collectors
- Financial Managers
- Appraisers/Assessors of Real Estate
- Claims Adjusters
- Insurance Underwriters
Curious how far you could go with a Major in Accounting? Start with a look at the top influencers in the field today!
Thinking of a graduate degree in accounting? Check out What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Accounting? for more information on obtaining a graduate degree in this field.***
Now that you know a bit more about how to major in Accounting, check out The Most Influential Schools in Accounting and get started on your path to an Accounting degree.