Explore career opportunities in accounting made possible with an online bachelor’s in accounting degree program. When you receive a bachelor’s in accounting, you may be eligible for a pay increase or promotion. If you’re working in another industry or not working yet, this degree can help you start a career in accounting. Learn more about this higher education opportunity with this helpful Campus Explorer guide.
What Is an Online Bachelor’s in Accounting?
An online bachelor’s degree in accounting equips students with the skills and knowledge necessary for entry-level positions in the accounting industry. A bachelor’s degree program typically takes four years to complete, though there are online accelerated programs that may be completed in less time.
When you study accounting, you prepare for a competitive career working as an accountant, manager, business owner, or other position in a stable industry. Here are some common roles that you can consider as you study online:
- Tax accountant
- Certified Public Accountant, or CPA
- Management accountant
- Personal finance advisor
- Financial analyst
Some positions, like a CPA, require additional certification and training. The exact coursework can vary between bachelor’s degree programs. As an accounting major, you can expect to take classes in auditing, business ethics, taxation, and related topics. You should be comfortable with numbers but typically use computer software to make complex calculations.
You can study accounting through a range of online programs. Consider the pros and cons of a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, Bachelor of Arts in Accounting, or Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. A Bachelor of Arts degree usually offers more flexibility and elective options. Bachelor of Science degrees tend to focus more on the specific skills and training needed for a career in this field.
Most accountants and other accounting professionals prepare and review financial statements. Some work in government settings, while others work in corporate offices, non-profit organizations, or are self-employed. Most positions are full-time in an office setting, although some accountants can travel to clients’ businesses or work remotely. Accountants who specialize in taxation have busier seasons to prepare for quarterly audits and tax season.
Consider a career in accounting if you’re passionate about organization, detail-oriented tasks, and clear communication. Accountants must work ethically to review finances and advise business owners on a wise choice for investing and tax preparation.
How Much Does a Bachelor’s in Accounting Cost?
According to U.S. News, a typical online degree costs about $300 per credit. Most programs require approximately 120 credits. A typical total cost for a degree is between $40,000 and $100,000.
Costs vary depending on the school you choose. Private colleges tend to cost more than public ones. In-state tuition can also be significantly lower than tuition for individuals who aren’t residents of the state or county.
Scholarships, grants, financial aid, and in-state tuition reductions can all lower the total cost of an online bachelor’s degree in accounting. Online programs, on average, are less expensive than similar on-campus programs. They can also have more flexible schedules, allowing you to work part-time or full-time while taking classes.
If you’ve already completed some college courses or have an associate’s degree, then you may be able to use that experience toward your accounting major. Ask about how your previous credits may transfer and apply to your program.
Average Salary for a Bachelor’s in Accounting
Most entry-level accounting positions require a bachelor’s degree. When you earn a bachelor’s in accounting, your salary ranges from below $47,970 to more than $128,970.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, the median annual salary for accountants and auditors was approximately $77,250 as of 2021.
Many other related positions have competitive pay and a promising job outlook. For example, tax examiners and collectors earned a median annual wage of $56,780 per year in 2021, while Budget Analysts earned $79,940 per year.
A bachelor’s in accounting degree gives you a competitive application for many of these entry-level positions. Some higher positions require years of experience and may require a master’s degree or other training. A few, like tax examiners, require moderate on-the-job training.
If you’re considering a career as a CPA, a bachelor’s degree is the first step. The CPA Exam requires 150 credits, so you may need to complete an additional year of classes to sit in on the test. Consider a master’s in accounting or post-baccalaureate CPA program to prepare for a career as a CPA.
How to Become an Accountant
Whether you want to pursue corporate, government, public, or forensic accounting, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree. But how long does it take to become an accountant? While traditional in-person bachelor programs are four years, accelerated online accounting programs can be completed in as little as 36 months. In addition, if you have previous college credits, your path to becoming an accountant may be even shorter.
The requirements for an accounting degree are 120 hours of coursework, some of which includes:
- Financial accounting and corporate reporting
- Auditing and forensic services
- Tax policy
- Business and Management classes
Almost all accounting programs require 3-6 credit hours in financial and corporate accounting. These courses give students the basics of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), balance sheets, ledgers, inventory methods, and cost accounting.
Students pursuing an accounting degree will also take auditing and forensic courses. Self-auditing is evaluating one’s own company, whereas forensic auditing focuses on external investigations. This coursework teaches students to spot accounting irregularities and how to report them.
Almost all programs will also require students to take a course in tax policy, which teaches about the federal and state tax systems. Students will also learn about tax exemptions, deductions, appeals, and credits.
Additional course requirements include management, quantitative analysis, communication, finance, and economics classes. These varied business courses will give accounting students the skills they need for entry-level jobs or a master’s degree in accounting.
What can you do with a bachelor’s in accounting? Once you receive your bachelor’s degree in accounting, you will be able to work in various capacities, including:
- Loan Officer
- Staff Accountant
- Budget Analyst
- Internal Auditor
- Financial Analyst
- Management Accountant
However, should you want to continue your studies to become a Certified Professional Accountant (CPA), you will usually need professional experience and a master’s degree. While pursuing a CPA isn’t required to do many jobs within the accounting field, becoming a CPA gives you the option for career advancement and a higher salary.
What Is the Job Outlook for Bachelor’s in Accounting Holders?
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, accounting and auditing jobs are expected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2031. Moreover, the job outlook for financial analysts is projected to be even higher at 9%, with 31,900 new jobs expected over the decade.
Accounting is an excellent field of study if you enjoy working with numbers. Assist individuals, corporations, or government offices in creating budgets, compiling reports, and financial planning. Accountants, auditors, and financial analysts work in a variety of office settings and financial situations, so you can choose the work environment that fits your personality.
Consider this career if you’re interested in a stable job with long-term growth and a comfortable work situation. Self-employed accountants and financial advisors create their own schedule and set their own rates, so you can enjoy a flexible job to fit your lifestyle.
A bachelor’s degree opens the doors to further education and advancement opportunities. Combine a degree with years of experience in the field to create a competitive application for management positions or raises for your current position.
Courses in Bachelor’s in Accounting
Expect to take a broad range of courses in accounting, finance, and business fields. Most bachelor’s degree in accounting programs include courses in the following areas:
- Auditing: Explore the audit process and find out how to perform risk assessments and audit reports. Successful auditing requires critical thinking and complex decision-making processes.
- Taxation: Whether you’re planning on working with the IRS or in a private corporation, you need to understand tax laws. Explore your obligations and options in legally filing taxes or analyzing tax reports.
- Managerial accounting: Accountants need to analyze financial information and make decisions about cost modification and extraction based on that information. This course is particularly beneficial for managers and entrepreneurs.
- Business ethics: Learn about ethical requirements and standards in the field of accounting in this course.
- Cost management: Similar to managerial accounting, this course helps you set competitive costs for products. You’ll also find out how to predict business expenses to ensure your business model is sound.
- Mathematics: Mathematics underscores the entire field of accounting. For more complex financial equations, a solid grounding of mathematics can be particularly helpful.
You will need to be comfortable working with numbers and working on detail-oriented projects. Your new career will likely feature heavy use of accounting software, so technology skills are also important.
A bachelor’s degree, particularly a bachelor’s of arts degree, offers you many opportunities to personalize your program. Looking to focus on taxes? Fascinated by organizational strategies? Tailor your coursework to reach your learning goals.
Consider your interests in the field of accounting as you look for online courses. Some schools offer degrees focused on a particular field, like auditing, while many others offer a broad range of coursework as you search for your career path in the broad and exciting industry.
Some of the most common courses that people studying accounting take include:
FAQs on Online Bachelor’s in Accounting
Core Takeaways for an Online Bachelors in Accouting
- Standard and accelerated accounting programs available
- Programs can typically be completed in 36-48 months
- Popular concentrations include public accounting and managerial accounting
- Degree program can be completed completely online
- Standard 120-credit program brings you close to the 150-credit requirement for CPA exam
- Provides essential training for accountants and personal finance advisors
- Can be completed in 36 months in an online, accelerated program
- Prepares students for a number of careers in the accounting industry
- Offers opportunities for the high-growth accounting industry
- Degree holders can qualify for many high-paying, entry-level positions
- Programs can cost as little as $40,000
- Costs are highly variable from school to school
- Scholarships and other support opportunities are available for accounting students
- Online programs typically cost less than on-campus ones
- Accelerated programs offer an affordable alternative