The minimum requirement for a position as an accountant or an accounting clerk is an associate’s degree from an accredited university. You will be involved primarily in the entry of financial transactions into the system, reconciling bank statements, and, with experience, preparing financial statements. With a bachelor in accounting degree your responsibilities are far more broad. If you want to be fully prepared for a role in management or pubic accounting you should consider being licensed as a Certified Public Accountant and obtain a master’s degree.
Associate of Science in Accounting Curriculum Content
The ASA program provides you with a solid accounting background. The curriculum includes academic core courses, business courses, and education in computer skills related to accounting such as computerized accounting software, spreadsheets, and payroll systems. This program will prepare you for career opportunities in accounting areas such as payables, receivables, bookkeeping, payroll and taxation.
Bachelor of Science in Accounting Curriculum Content
The BSA program prepares you for a challenging career and a position of leadership in both the public and private sectors. You will be introduced to all aspects of management and the accounting field. Courses in management, organizational behavior, leadership, marketing, economics, and business law prepare you for a role in management. Courses in financial accounting, payroll and taxation, cost accounting, computerized accounting, and governmental accounting and auditing expose you to the many different aspects of the accounting field.
Licensure and Certification: Certified Public Accountant
Publicly traded companies must submit reports on their financial position and operations every year, and only a Certified Public Accountant may sign and submit those reports. Because the certification process is so rigorous, employers see this certification as a sign that the accountant is well-trained and well-prepared to handle the responsibilities that the job requires. Holding a CPA certificate will open many more employment opportunities for you, even if the certification is not required by law.
All but four states require 150 semester hours of college course work before sitting for the exam. This is about 30 hours more than most bachelor degrees require. Many students choose to complete a master’s degree in accounting or a master of business administration with a concentration in accounting in order to earn those additional hours, but obtaining the advanced degree is not required.
Although the requirements are different in many states, all of them require passing the Uniform CPA Exam. This exam is offered two months out of each quarter at testing sites around the country, and only about half of the students who take it pass all parts of it the first time they take it. Those who don’t pass all sections are allowed to take those parts of the exam again.
Other requirements may include working in the accounting field before the license is granted, but this varies by state. Be sure to check with your state licensing agency to understand all of the requirements in your area. Once the certificate has been earned, continuing education is required to maintain a current license.
Licensure and Certification: Certified Management Accountant
If you are more interested in advancing your career as an accountant in the private sector you will want to consider certification as a management accountant rather than as a public accountant. The Institution of Management Accountants (IMA) offers an advanced professional credential as a Certified Management Accountant. This highly regarded credential demonstrates your knowledge and skill in the areas of accounting and financial management.
The CMA certification requires membership in the IMA, the completion of a bachelor degree from an accredited college or university, two years of continuous professional experience, and passing a comprehensive exam. This exam tests your knowledge of economics, basic statistics, and financial accounting. It is separated into two sections, financial planning, performance and control, and financial decision making. Once the certification has been granted, 20 hours of continuing professional education are required to maintain it.