In a nutshell: You’ll be exposed to much more than balance sheets and income statements as you pursue your degree in accounting.
Are you interested in business administration, and you’re good with numbers? You may be thinking about a career in accounting. But if you don’t have any previous experience in the field, do you know what to expect?
We answer your five biggest questions about earning a degree in accounting.
What Is Accounting?
According to Investopedia, accounting is the systematic and comprehensive recording of financial transactions pertaining to a business. It also refers to the process of summarizing, analyzing and reporting these transactions. Accounting is a key function for all businesses, including for-profit, nonprofit, private and public companies, as well as government agencies.
What Core Subjects Will I Learn?
There are different types of accounting, including financial accounting, public accounting, government accounting, forensic accounting, management accounting, tax accounting and internal auditing, but the core subjects you’ll learn are similar across the profession. For starters, you will learn accounting terms and basic practices.
Coursework will also include preparing and analyzing financial statements (i.e., income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements). Managerial accounting will be focused on internal numbers and reports and is forward-looking. Financial accounting tracks performance and reports these numbers to external stakeholders.
You will learn about regulations and taxes and how these impact the overall accounting function. International accounting will be important if you work for a global company and coursework will cover the differences between U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
What Non-Accounting Subjects Will I Learn?
While accounting and finance are two separate disciplines, and therefore departments, you will gain a basic understanding of the finance function in a business. After all, you will have to record the financial transactions that the finance division is planning and executing. You’ll also need an understanding of economics, which is the branch of knowledge concerned with the production, consumption and transfer of wealth, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Ethics is an important non-money subject that you will learn during your accounting education. Because accountants are delivering financial information to internal managers, company officers, the public, oversight agencies and tax collection entities, their due diligence and accuracy must be trusted. You will study moral values and judgment as they apply to the accounting profession.
What Other Skills Do I Need?
According to CareerBuilder’s“What Does an Accountant Do?” the soft skills you need to be successful as an accountant include attention to detail, organization, adaptability, communication and computer skills. Additional skills include time management, openness and leadership.
What Can I Expect After I’ve Earned my Degree?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountant and auditor jobs are expected to grow faster than average, at a rate of 10% from 2016 to 2026. The median pay in 2016 was $68,150.
While the typical entry-level education is a bachelor’s degree, there are accounting certificatesthat employers may require, including the certified public accounting (CPA), chartered global management accountant (CGMA) and certified management accountant (CMA).