Becoming a Certified Accountant

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When the dust settles over our economic turmoil, it is a certainty that increased government regulation will be confronting the banking and securities firms in this country.  That’s going to require expanded oversight from government auditors and reams of additional reporting from banks, investment houses and brokers.  Both of those functions will be performed by accountants.

If you are interested in an accounting career, fate has brought about an ideal time to pursue your dream.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, just 21% of the 1.3 million accountants in this country were employed in public accounting firms. Another 10% were self employed and the balance could be found in corporations or in government agencies. 

If you are interested in being an accountant or an auditor working in a corporate or government office, or even if simply being the neighborhood public accountant appeals to you here are some steps toward your goal.

You’re going to need a degree.  Accountants today generally have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting, or finance, or in business with a concentration on finance. All of these are acceptable accounting degrees.  Accountants that want to move into a management or administrative role outside of a small agency are going to need a master’s degree at some point; it’s a worthwhile goal because managerial accounting is at the crux of most business operations.

Decide what you want to do.  The faculty at your school can talk with you about which academic options lead to your targeted career.  Auditing is a fact finder’s job; you may want to take some courses in forensic accounting.  This particular corner of the accounting profession is growing rapidly, as criminal activity increasingly involves offshore bank accounts, laundered money and financial trickery.

In accounting, certification can be important.  Many public accountants – the  professionals that handle tax returns, payroll accounts, and other retail financial services – function through an entire career without certification.  However many become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), which provides an added patina of credibility and which allows you to file documents with the SEC. 

Understand your State’s certification requirements.  States certify CPA applicants.  Most states require an additional 150 credit hours of class time over and above a bachelor’s degree in order to qualify for CPA status.  Many schools have a program for providing those additional study requirements, that results in a master’s degree.  All states use the Uniform CPA Examination prepared by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA); less than half of all applicants pass on the first try, so those additional study hours are important.

There are several certification options.  At least ten certifications are offered by an assortment of professional organizations.  You can become an Accredited Tax Advisor (ATA), a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), or a Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP).  For further information on these and other forms of accounting certification, consult the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Handbook.

Bob Hartzell is a freelance writer who covers careers for GetDegrees.com. You can find a comprehensive list of schools that offer accounting degrees on the site. An accounting degree can take you from entry level bookkeeping into a management position in many businesses today.


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  • BS in Accounting
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  • Offers MUSE (My Unique Student Experience), a content delivery system that gives students the option to watch, view, read or listen to required course materials.
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  • Bachelor of Accounting
  • Bachelor's (BBA) - Accounting
  • Bachelor's (BBA) - Finance

CTU can help you connect to what matters most: a powerful professional network, faculty who are real-world professionals and innovative technology. And now several CTU degree programs are ranked by U.S. News Best Online Programs for 2015.  Are you in?

Programs:

  • Bachelor of Science in Accounting
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Finance
  • Online degrees offered include BA in Accounting, BA in Business Administration, MBA, and more.
  • Business students may be eligible for scholarships such as the Entrepreneurship Scholarship.
  • Courses help students develop knowledge of marketing, accounting, economic principles, and financial management.
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Programs:

  • BA/Accounting
  • BA/Consumer and Family Financial Services
  • BA/Finance
  • And more...
  • Online and ground-based program areas include Fashion Marketing and Management and more.
  • Students can study branding, event management, and public relations to help them prepare for a marketing career
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  • Over 50 locations nationwide, with a student support team dedicated to helping students grow
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Programs:

  • Marketing & Entertainment Management (BS)
  • Fashion & Retail Marketing (AS)
  • Earn your Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) 100% online
  • Learn business and leadership skills through case studies and intensive projects, culminating in a capstone course
  • Program designed to teach students key concepts in accounting, financial services, and marketing
  • South University brings over 115 years of achievement and tradition to a supportive, online classroom

Programs:

  • Business Administration (BBA)

As a student at South University, you will have the opportunity to learn from accomplished faculty members who have real-world experience in the subjects that they teach. Our small class sizes allow you to receive personalized attention from instructors, and the encouragement to recognize your goals for the future and the means to achieve them.

Programs:

  • Business Administration (BBA)
Locations:  Virginia Beach


Matching School Ads
  • There's still time to apply to Grand Canyon University and pursue your education. Learn more today!
  • Study on your schedule - GCU offers many programs 100% online to fit your busy lifestyle.
  • GCU offers a variety of opportunities to reduce the cost of furthering your education. Campus students may qualify for scholarships, while online students can take part in limited special offers.
  • A regionally accredited university, GCU also holds specialized accreditations and approvals for some of our core program offerings.
  • Degrees in business, education, nursing, humanities and social sciences, theology and more. Find the degree that fits you.
  • Talk to us today to learn more about financial aid and start dates!

Programs:

  • B.S. in Accounting
  • B.S. in Finance and Economics
  • Degrees offered include Bachelor of Science in Accounting, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, and Master of Business Administration.
  • Students are instructed in relevant business skills like communication, mathematics, and management.
  • Coursework emphasizes the development of project management, communication, decision-making, and problem-solving skills.
  • Flexible, 100% online and campus based programs available.

Programs:

  • BS in Accounting
  • BS in Accounting - Managerial Accountancy
  • BS in Accounting - Public Accountancy
  • And more...
  • Recognized in the first Best for Vets: Business Schools list in Military Times Edge magazine’s 2013 “Best for Vets” edition.
  • Offers MUSE (My Unique Student Experience), a content delivery system that gives students the option to watch, view, read or listen to required course materials.
  • Allows students to complete courses at whatever pace they want.
  • A DANTES-affiliated university and member of the Service Members Opportunity Colleges.
  • Offers IntelliPath, a proprietary learning technology that lets students learn at their own pace.

Programs:

  • Bachelor of Accounting
  • Bachelor's (BBA) - Accounting
  • Bachelor's (BBA) - Finance

CTU can help you connect to what matters most: a powerful professional network, faculty who are real-world professionals and innovative technology. And now several CTU degree programs are ranked by U.S. News Best Online Programs for 2015.  Are you in?

Programs:

  • Bachelor of Science in Accounting
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Finance
  • Online degrees offered include BA in Accounting, BA in Business Administration, MBA, and more.
  • Business students may be eligible for scholarships such as the Entrepreneurship Scholarship.
  • Courses help students develop knowledge of marketing, accounting, economic principles, and financial management.
  • Business Administration students can specialize in areas such as Entrepreneurship, Finance, and Project Management.

Programs:

  • BA/Accounting
  • BA/Consumer and Family Financial Services
  • BA/Finance
  • And more...
  • Online and ground-based program areas include Fashion Marketing and Management and more.
  • Students can study branding, event management, and public relations to help them prepare for a marketing career
  • Course topics include Fundamentals of Business, Brand Strategy, Project Management, and Principles of Market Research
  • Over 50 locations nationwide, with a student support team dedicated to helping students grow
  • Join our next Open House on 10/21 (10/28 @ select locations)!

Programs:

  • Marketing & Entertainment Management (BS)
  • Fashion & Retail Marketing (AS)
  • Earn your Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) 100% online
  • Learn business and leadership skills through case studies and intensive projects, culminating in a capstone course
  • Program designed to teach students key concepts in accounting, financial services, and marketing
  • South University brings over 115 years of achievement and tradition to a supportive, online classroom

Programs:

  • Business Administration (BBA)

As a student at South University, you will have the opportunity to learn from accomplished faculty members who have real-world experience in the subjects that they teach. Our small class sizes allow you to receive personalized attention from instructors, and the encouragement to recognize your goals for the future and the means to achieve them.

Programs:

  • Business Administration (BBA)
Locations:  Virginia Beach