Students can apply the accounting principles they learn in a bachelor's degree program to various occupations and industries, such as financial advising, auditing and, of course, accounting. A bachelor's in accounting can thus be a versatile degree for graduates. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants lists examples of financial occupations in which an accounting graduate can specialize, including valuation, forensics, auditing, personal finance planning and more.
Coursework and program details
Students in accounting bachelor's programs typically take both core business classes and accounting electives. Course offerings vary by school, but the following are commonly found across programs:
- Principles of accounting
- Intermediate accounting
- Advanced accounting
- Federal income taxation
- Financial statement analysis
Other coursework may focus on leadership skills, business administration, management and statistics. Through these classes, bachelor's programs aim to give students a grasp of various accounting concepts. Below are examples of specific topics often reviewed during the degree program:
- Accounting theory
- Financial reporting requirements
- Tax law
As part of the program, some schools may connect students with an opportunity to obtain real-world experience through internships.
Career opportunities and outlook for bachelor's degree graduates
The BLS predicts a 13 percent national growth rate for accounting and auditing jobs between 2012 and 2022. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are expected to have a competitive advantage in the job market.
The BLS lists several potential reasons for growth in the industry:
- Greater focus on accounting due to recent financial crises corporate scandals
- Continued globalization in business (especially helpful for individuals with accounting knowledge in international trade, mergers and acquisitions)
- Stricter lending standards
- Stricter financial legislation
Graduates who do not want to pursue a career as an accountant or auditor can apply the skills they gained in their bachelor's program to a range of other occupations, such as the following:
- Financial analyst
- Personal financial advisor
- Budget analyst
Graduates who wish to continue their accounting education can consider pursuing a master's degree in accounting or a Master of Business Administration. An advanced degree can not only help individuals gain a more specialized skill set, but according to the BLS, it may even enhance one's job prospects.
Becoming a Certified Public Accountant
Accountants filing reports with the Security and Exchange Commission must become certified, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Specific certification requirements vary by state, but most candidates must pass a national exam and complete 150 semester hours of college coursework. Further information about certification can be attained through one of the following accounting associations:
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
- Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA)
- Institute of Management Accountants (IMA)
Accountants and Auditors, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm
Specializations & Credentials, American Institute of CPAs, http://www.aicpa.org/InterestAreas/YoungCPANetwork/Resources/Career/Pages/SpecializationsandCredentials.aspx