Students interested in pursuing an associate’s degree in accounting need at least a high school diploma or GED in order to apply to school. Once accepted, the student will take courses in the basic principles of accounting such as financial statements, cash flows, bookkeeping, and general ledger. In an associate’s program, the student will receive an introduction to spreadsheets and databases.
An associate’s degree is typically a two-year program that can be taken online or in class.
Traditional classroom style teaching is what most people are familiar with, and is offered at many local community or junior colleges. Many schools now offer online or virtual classes to accommodate working professionals and in order to expand their reach. Many online college degrees are accredited programs, gaining respect in the education industry. Each school has different graduation requirements; however, there will be an overall expected GPA and letter grade to complete the program. For example, a school could require that the student should attain an overall 2.25 GPA, with a C or better in each major course to count toward the degree requirements. If a student is thinking about perhaps returning to school for a bachelor’s degree, it is important that the student take classes that are transferable to the next school.
An associate’s degree will be sufficient education to start an entry-level job in accounting, such as a job as an accounting assistant, billing clerk, or bookkeeper.
College has provided sufficient coursework in general accounting practices, such as general ledger and accounts payable and receivable, to get a job. While working in the field, the student will have the opportunity to discover whether the student likes the job, without bearing the expense of a full four-year degree. During this trial period, the individual has the chance to build a career and explore internal company career opportunities. Along with building tenure and exposure, another advantage is that many companies offer tuition reimbursement should the individual decide to go back to school for further education. This is a huge cost savings to the individual, in that the company will pay for job-related courses toward the bachelor’s degree or master’s program.
The disadvantage to an accounting major associate’s degree is that it might not be enough education to compete. Employers tend to choose individuals with higher degrees and more experience. In addition, many bachelor degree graduates apply to entry-level jobs to get their foot in the door to build their career. The starting salaries for those with an associate’s degree is $25,000 – $40,000, not including benefits and bonuses.