How to Get an Online Associate’s Degree in Accounting

If you grew up enjoying and excelling at mathematics and numbers, you may want to look into pursuing an associate’s degree in accounting. Like business, this field will not go out of style and is a great field to get into now. The growth in this industry is expected to outstrip other professional fields by leaps and bounds. With an associate’s degree in accounting, you can be sure that you will always have a job, and an important one for that matter. After all, we have to get our taxes done every year, right?

Tax season aside, let’s face the reality: Our entire society revolves around money. As an accountant, you are responsible for keeping track of all that money for citizens, corporations, non-profit organizations, or the government. Accountants can work for private companies, get a secure government job, or even choose to work on a freelance basis from the comfort of their homes. Not many jobs allow for this type of flexibility while providing stability and a competitive salary. Needless to say, your career options are wide open in this field.

Are you considering accounting but not sure if it is the right direction for you? Let’s explore some of the benefits of being an accountant (or working in a related field):

  1. Job Security: While many jobs are now becoming automated by machines, accountants are crucial to any running and growing business. They are in demand everywhere, so you don’t have to be tied to a single location if you don’t want to.
  2. Competitive Salary: Accountants and auditors can often earn six-figure incomes, especially if they become certified or employed by big accounting firms. These jobs will require extensive experience or additional schooling, but getting an A.S. degree is the perfect start.
  3. Benefits: Full-time positions will offer great benefits such as health care, pensions, and more. Many accountants also go into their own business and in this case, they have the luxury of working from home on flexible schedules.
  4. Advancement Opportunity: There are always accounting related jobs out there that will keep challenging you. The more experience and education you gain, the more likely you will be able to keep moving up in the industry.
  5. Strong Networks: Chances are, working in the accounting field will allow you to network with other businessmen and like-minded people who will help you learn and grow as an accountant.

When considering what to study, one must take into consideration personal interests and career goals. After all, a career is just a job if you are not passionate about what you choose to do. If you love math and numbers, you are already in a great place because accounting is an extremely lucrative career. The average (and only the average!) accountant makes approximately $58,000 a year. Of course, the salaries are going to vary from company to company and from level to level, but the point is that it is a pretty rewarding career.

If this all sounds good to you so far, then it’s time to look into earning your associate’s degree in accounting. Coupled with work experience, this degree will come in handy to help you advance your career in the long run. You can choose to finish this degree and get right into the workforce, or you can continue your education and earn your bachelor’s degree at a four-year university.

Most associate’s degree programs require students to have a high school diploma, GED, or a GPA of 2.0 or higher. Students who earn high scores on the ACT or SAT may have an advantage in being considered for more competitive programs.

An associate’s degree generally takes around two years to complete. It can be obtained at most accredited community colleges, but if you are juggling other things in life and require a flexible schedule for school, a distance learning program from an accredited college is a great option to consider. Online learning is a great alternative to traditional classroom learning because it can allow students to complete classes more quickly, while taking advantage of many of the same resources as traditional classes, like tutoring or faculty assistance when needed. It does, however, requires potential students to be dedicated independent learners needing little to no hand-holding; after all, most (if not all) material will be taught entirely online. With that said, you would be expected to keep track of class schedule and complete assignments on your own time. The great benefit of online learning is that you can head to your virtual class in your pajamas, and essentially work anywhere and anytime that works best for you. Earning an online degree can be a productive way to balance school with other obligations, such as employment.

In addition to completing coursework necessary for your associate’s degree, studying accounting will allow you to network with other like-minded peers and grow a valuable alumni network. Connections are extremely important in any career, and when combined with a great educational foundation, they can bring you far in your career. Students can network in a variety of ways during their college years. Some great networking opportunities are found through career groups on campus, Greek life, and even interacting in class or via e-mail with classmates and professors.

Common Associate’s in Accounting Curriculum

It should go without saying that ideally, one should be pretty good at math to pursue an accounting degree. In addition to math courses, prospective students can expect to learn about tax laws, financial planning, business ethics, statistics, economics, information systems auditing, financial management, forensic accounting, bookkeeping, computer applications, and so much more. Students will also be exposed to core business classes. Regardless of the class subject, students will be crunching numbers day in and day out.
An associate’s degree in accounting will not have courses that delve too deeply into each subject; rather, it will provide students with an overview of each. Essentially, the classes are specifically designed to cover the basic principles for understanding accounting. Those who choose to further their career in accounting after earning this degree can choose to continue their college education by pursuing a bachelor’s or find a job in the accounting or business world to gain real-life experience.

In addition to accounting-related courses, students will also have general education requirements and electives to complete, which will vary from college to college. These classes are usually not directly accounting related. They are designed to give students the opportunity to explore other fields while getting a well-rounded foundation of knowledge that will be useful in helping them understand real-life situations and succeed in whatever career they choose to be in. For example, students may have an introductory course in math, science, history, language, and fine arts, to name a few.

Associate’s in Accounting Careers

An associate’s degree in accounting will satisfy the requirements for becoming a CPA in most states. Additionally, it will provide you with a solid foundation for further study and gaining entry-level work experience. There are a plethora of career options for one in the accounting field to explore. To give you an idea of the many different types of work opportunities, check out the list below of popular occupations that many accounting graduates in general pursue:

  • Accounting Clerk
  • Auditing Clerk
  • Bookkeeping Clerk
  • Accounts Receivable Clerk
  • Billing Clerk
  • Accounts Payable Clerk
  • Bookkeeper
  • Payroll Clerk
  • Tax Accountant
  • Treasury Analyst
  • Auditor
  • Cost Estimator
  • Government Accountant
  • Budget Analyst
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • Managerial Accountant
  • Finance Director
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Corporate Controller

Just like anything else, the salaries of the different occupations within accounting will differ depending on position and company, and some of these jobs may require additional schooling or work experience. However, starting off with an associate’s degree in accounting will put you in a good spot for advancement. After earning your A.S., you have the option of continuing into a four-year degree which will open up more job opportunities, or you can choose to work an entry-level accounting job for a company and work your way up from there into higher positions over time.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, accounting clerking opportunities are expected to grow 11% from 2012-2022. With this in mind, there is great demand for entry-level accounting positions. Having an associate’s degree in accounting will put you one step up above high school graduates in filling these positions. With accounting standing at the core of the business world, knowing how to manage finances will allow you to achieve just about anything in the field.