Financial Accounting Degrees

Financial Accounting

Financial Accounting Degree Programs

The discipline of financial accounting primarily involves reporting financial information to shareholders and other outside stakeholders who want a detailed picture of a company's fiscal performance. This information is commonly disclosed in annual or quarterly reports and includes profits, shareholder equity, liabilities, assets and other key financial information.

Those interested in pursuing a career in financial accounting typically earn a general accounting degree, as, generally speaking, colleges don't specifically award financial accounting degrees. General accounting degree programs often provide instruction in financial accounting, as it's a core tenet of the accounting. However, some accounting programs do have financial accounting concentrations, chiefly at the master's degree level.

Financial accounting classes can teach students methods for preparing and analyzing balance sheets, cash flow statements and other financial documents under the General Accepted Accounting Principles and other standards. They may also explore concepts such as deferred taxes, revenue recognition, accrual-based reporting and long-term liabilities.

Accounting programs can be found at nearly every academic level, from postsecondary diplomas and certificates to undergraduate and graduate degrees. Students can find schools that offer online accounting degrees, as well as traditional or hybrid programs. Part-time or self-paced programs may also be available. Students should contact individual accounting and financial accounting schools to learn more about learning options as well as admissions requirements.

Financial Accounting Careers

Those who earn traditional or online accounting degrees and have a strong financial accounting knowledgebase could find work in a variety of settings. Government agencies, private accounting firms, and nonprofits can all benefit from the skills financial accounting experts. One possible career path is to earn a Certified Public Accountant license and provide financial accounting services to a range of clients. However, it's far from the only option. For more information on possible careers in financial accounting, see the table below:


Common Duties

Typical Education Requirements

Certification Options

State Licensure Required?

Accounting Clerks

  • Work in specialized areas such as accounts payable or payroll.
  • Post transaction data into accounting software.
  • Balance billing vouchers.
  • Calculate interest owed on accounts.

High school diploma, but employers may prefer those with a college degree.

  • Certified Bookkeeper from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers
  • The National Bookkeepers Association offers certifications in bookkeeping, payroll, Excel, QuickBooks and taxes.


Public Accountants

  • Work with tax forms, balance sheets, and other financial records that must be publicly disclosed.
  • Provides services for multiple clients.

Bachelor's Degree

  • The American Institute of CPAs awards the Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV), Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) and Personal Financial Specialist titles. (All require CPA licensure.)
    • Only if becoming a Certified Public Accountant

  • Accountants who file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission must become licensed CPAs.

Financial Managers (Controllers)

  • Oversee preparation of company financial statements.
  • Manage accounting, auditing and budget departments.

Bachelor's degree, but master's degree is now preferred by many employers.

  • Certified Professional Controller from the Institute of Finance & Management


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012

Job Outlook and Salary in Financial Accounting

The job outlook and earning potential of financial accounting professionals varies, as many different careers can utilize financial accounting practices. To get a general sense, refer to the table below, which provides national job growth projections and average salaries for the occupations described in the previous section.


Mean Annual Wage United States

(May 2012)

Projected # of New Jobs

United States


Projected Job Growth Rate

United States


Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks



14% (Equal to national average)

Accountants and Auditors



16% (Above national average)

Financial Managers (Including Controllers)



9% (Below national average)

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012; Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, 2013

* Salaries and employment opportunities may vary based on experience, education, location and other factors.


Accountants and Auditors, May 2012 Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013

Accountants and Auditors, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012

Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks, May 2012 Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2012

Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012

Financial Managers, May 2012 Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2012

Financial Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012