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Accountants enjoy a high degree of prestige, earning power, and long-term job stability because their work links financial reporting with public confidence in the economy. As financial fraud continues to make headlines, an online accounting degree offers opportunities to work in service of the public trust.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 10% employment growth for accountants and auditors through 2026. This guide covers the benefits of online accounting programs, explores the skills and knowledge you will gain with a top accredited online accounting degree, and examines salary and career advancement potential after graduation.
Why Earn an Online Degree in Accounting?
Convenience, flexibility, and affordability rank among the most widely recognized benefits of online accounting programs. Online accounting degree programs enable working professionals and students with families to study remotely from almost anywhere. Many schools also offer accelerated programs, part-time options, and your choice of synchronous or asynchronous course styles.
Enrolling in affordable accounting programs online offers another advantage for budget-minded students: Without the financial burden of commuting costs or on-campus living, undergraduate students reap substantial savings. Plus, many accounting schools online charge in-state tuition for all students regardless of their residency. An online degree also provides greater access to highly ranked universities in other states, increasing your options for earning your degree from a prestigious school at an affordable rate.
What Can I Do with an Online Accounting Bachelor's Degree?
Versatility ranks high on the list of reasons students decide to pursue accounting degrees. Few fields offer as many high-demand opportunities in such a broad range of industries. Graduates with online accounting degrees gain skills applicable to specialties across business and government. A bachelor's in accounting also creates a strong foundation for a master's or doctoral degree in accounting, finance, or other business discipline.
Skills and Knowledge Gained
Earning an accounting degree online and succeeding professionally requires a broad array of interrelated skills, with critical thinking, analytics, and professional communication topping the list. Auditors, for example, must exercise judgment in analyzing and classifying data. The best online colleges for accounting provide a strong foundation in critical thinking, enabling graduates to investigate and evaluate complex financial information.
All professional accounting jobs demand strong communication skills. Accountants often wear many hats; they analyze budgets, provide advisory services to management, and navigate accounting information systems. Accounting programs online provide clear frameworks for breaking down accounting information and presenting it to clients.
A bachelor's degree in accounting opens doors to career advancement. At the associate level, most job responsibilities concentrate on recording financial data, such as bookkeeping and payroll tasks. At the bachelor's level, coursework focuses on broad principles and theory, and how to use accounting information intelligently. Students looking to earn a CPA credential should note that a bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for the test in most states.
Careers and Salary Potential
Accounting graduates pursue a variety of career paths in industry, government, and financial services firms, acting as trusted advisers. Popular career paths include management accounting, forensic accounting, and internal auditing, often with advancement opportunities into supervisory roles. Other leading specialties include tax advisory services, budget analysis, and consulting.
- Accounting, Tax Preparation, and Payroll Services: Accountants in these fields keep financial records, maintain payroll, handle auditing, and prepare taxes for businesses. Most entry-level jobs require a bachelor's degree.
- Government: Government accountants audit governmental entities and ensure compliance with tax regulations. A bachelor's-level education provides knowledge of applicable standards, which differ depending on level of government and oversight industry.
- Finance and Insurance: This industry focuses on financial transactions, including buying and selling assets and insurance. A bachelor's degree provides the necessary education in risk management and financial markets.
- Management of Companies and Enterprises: This industry specializes in decision-making, strategic planning, and high-level risk management. Advancement typically requires a bachelor's degree and several years of previous work experience.
- Self-Employed Workers: Self-employed accountants typically serve individual or business clients as personal financial advisers or consultants. A bachelor's degree provides many of the necessary business skills, though most freelance accountants work in agencies for several years first.
Accountants and Auditors
Annual Median Salary : $69,350
Accountants and auditors track, analyze, and report on financial transactions. They help investors and businesses review financial statements and make decisions. Their responsibilities include cost and asset management, audit and assurance services, and advising on allocation of funds.
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks
Annual Median Salary : $39,240
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks handle financial recordkeeping tasks and procedures. They record, post, and verify financial transactions. Their job duties include handling bank reconciliations, maintaining ledgers, and processing accounts payable and receivable. They also issue checks and invoices to vendors, and monitor budgets to track income and expenses. Candidates only need an associate degree.
Personal Financial Adviser
Annual Median Salary : $90,640
Personal financial advisers guide clients through investments, taxes, insurance, and other financial processes to help them manage risks and reach long-term financial goals. Their responsibilities include setting savings targets for education or retirement, and estate and trust planning.
Annual Median Salary : $75,240
Budget analysts help institutions organize financial information, manage cash flow, and use funds efficiently. Job duties include conducting budget reviews, analyzing and defending budget proposals, and forecasting financial trends.
Annual Median Salary : $84,300
Financial analysts collect, monitor, and coordinate financial information to assess the performance of organizations. Their responsibilities include reviewing performance measures such as returns on investments, monitoring industry conditions, managing company financial portfolios, and forecasting future trends.
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