Bachelor's Degree in Accounting

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Updated October 4, 2022 · 4 Min Read

Whether it's a BS, BA, or BBA, an undergraduate degree in accounting can open the door to more than just becoming an accountant. Explore a variety of curricula and careers.

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Accounting degrees open doors to profitable work in the business and financial industry. People with analytical minds and critical thinking skills can pursue a bachelor's degree in accounting to prepare for finance-focused careers.

Bachelor of accounting enrollees learn to examine financial records, evaluate risks, and abide tax laws. Students also learn the basic principles and theories of accounting, and gain practical experience preparing financial documents.

Accounting graduates have job opportunities in a wide variety of businesses, corporations, and government agencies. With education and work experience, they can work as accountants, auditors, personal financial advisors, and financial managers.

This page overviews what to expect from accounting degrees. Learn about the benefits, education options, and career opportunities for bachelor of accounting students.

Why Get a Degree in Accounting?

  • Salary Potential: Accountants earn a comfortable annual wage with opportunities for salary increases through education and experience. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a median annual salary of $$77,250 for accountants and auditors, with the top 10% earning more than $128,970 as of May 2021.
  • Compelling Work: For organized and detail-oriented professionals, accounting often provides new and interesting challenges. Accountants play crucial roles for the financial health of their institutions. They identify risks, enhance revenues, and make recommendations to improve profits. Specialized accountants can also break into the realm of forensic accounting and work in the ever-evolving field of fraud detection.
  • Positive Job Outlook: Accounting professionals remain in-demand thanks to our growing economy and complex tax regulation systems. The BLS projects a 7% growth in accounting and auditing occupations from 2020-2030. This growth amounts to about 135,000 job openings for accountants each year over the course of that decade.

Accounting Degree and Concentration Options

The business and financial industry needs accounting professionals with diverse skill sets. Many colleges and universities have developed different types of accounting programs to meet those needs.

The most common types of accounting degrees include bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, and bachelor of business administration.

  • Bachelor of Arts: A BA in accounting combines a liberal arts education with the accounting major. This degree allows for a wide variety of elective classes and exploration of other interests. BA degrees may be the right fit for students who want to pursue a double major or minor.
  • Bachelor of Science: A bachelor of science in accounting aims for career preparation. This degree includes a curriculum related to the accounting major. BS degrees may suit students who plan to acquire entry-level positions in corporate, nonprofit, or government accounting.
  • Bachelor of Business Administration: A BBA in accounting focuses on both foundational business management and accounting principles. This degree covers business and accounting coursework that helps students develop highly transferable skills. BBA degrees may be the right fit for students who want versatility across various paths.

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Core Concepts

Graduates with a bachelor's degree in accounting gain knowledge and skills in the following core accounting concepts:

  • Managerial Accounting: Ongoing financial data analysis, interpretation, and reporting (e.g. weekly, monthly); provides information related to profit, debt, and inventory, assisting management personnel with business decision-making
  • Cost Accounting: Analysis of product development or services costs; assisting in budget organization and planning, cost reduction
  • Auditing: Reviewing financial documents and processes for accurate results and compliance
  • Financial Accounting: Analysis, interpretation, and reporting of corporate-level financial data, provided to stakeholders (shareholders, employees, and clients), often on a quarterly and annual basis
  • Accounting Information Systems: A set of tools and procedures that monitor accounting tasks and processes, and the technology used to manage these tools
  • International Financial Reporting Standards: A widely accepted set of accounting standards designed to create consistent, comparable preparation of financial statements used by organizations around the world
  • Generally Accepted Accounting Principles: A commonly adopted framework used to guide practice and procedures throughout the U.S. accounting industry

Should You Get Your Accounting Degree Online?

Prospective students should consider earning their degree in accounting online if they have a busy work schedule, juggle family obligations, or live far away from their preferred school. Online accounting degrees also work well for enrollees pursuing an accelerated track or taking classes one at a time.

Some programs offer coursework 100% online, while others use a hybrid model with some in-person course obligations. Online coursework may be asynchronous, allowing students to complete coursework at any time of day, or synchronous, requiring students and instructors to log on and participate at set times.

Bachelor of Accounting Jobs and Salaries

Earning a bachelor's degree in accounting is a helpful step in attaining top careers in the business and financial field. Accountants enjoy comfortable salaries and a variety of job opportunities across industries.

The top-paying industries for accountants include pipeline transportation of crude oil, computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing, and securities or financial investments. Graduates can pursue as accountants, financial planners, tax consultants, or forensic accountants.

Accountant


Accountants investigate financial documents, create reports, and prepare tax documents. Bachelor's degrees in accounting prepare professionals for many job duties, but some careers require an additional CPA license. With education and work experience, they can also advance to high-level executive jobs.

Required Education: Bachelor's in accounting

Job Outlook (2020-30): +7%

Median Annual Salary: $77,250


Financial Planner/Advisor


Financial planners and advisors provide insight on investments, insurance, taxes, and retirement to help individuals or companies manage their finances. They may also develop portfolios, recommend investments, and select investments on behalf of others.

Required Education: Bachelor's in accounting

Job Outlook (2020-30): +5%

Median Annual Salary: ​​$94,170


Tax Consultant


Tax consultants assist clients with their tax-related issues. Bachelor's in accounting degrees help prepare tax consultants to complete tax documents for complicated estates and circumstances. Tax consultants often need to attain CPA licensure.

Required Education: Bachelor's in accounting

Average Annual Salary: $62,090


Forensic Accountant


Forensic accountants rely on high-level accounting skills to detect fraudulent financial activity. They often work for banks, insurance companies, government agencies, and police forces. Forensic accountants investigate and analyze financial evidence, and may also testify in legal proceedings.

Required Education: Bachelor's in accounting

Average Annual Salary: $71,970

Top Online Associate Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

Next Steps After Getting an Accountant Degree

Students should consider the following post-grad possibilities as they research their education options:

  • Enter the Workforce: Many employers want to hire recent accounting graduates. Students should consult their school's career center to learn more about current hiring practices, connect with hiring managers, and explore various career paths for accounting majors. Alumni can also provide information about their experiences, along with resources for professional networking.
  • Become a CPA: Some accounting positions require licensure. Not all bachelor's in accounting degrees meet CPA examination requirements, which in most states include 150 credit hours of education. All states use the same CPA exam, but some implement additional education- and experience-related requirements. Prospective CPAs should review their state's exam details.
  • Pursue a Master's Degree: Many accounting jobs require only a bachelor's degree, but some managers prefer applicants with advanced education in accounting, business, or a related field. Graduate school also allows learners to specialize in specific areas of accounting.

Common Questions About Accounting Bachelor's Degrees


Is a degree in accounting a BA or BS?

Institutions offer both options, but BS in accounting degrees are the most common. Bachelor of business administration in accounting programs are common degrees, as well.

What can you do with a bachelor's degree in accounting?

A bachelor's in accounting leads to careers in accounting, auditing, and financial analysis, among other business careers.

Can I become a CPA after earning a bachelor's in accounting?

CPA licensure requires 150 college credits, meaning learners must complete bachelor's degrees in accounting plus additional education to qualify for CPA designation.

Can I get a job with a bachelor's in accounting but no experience?

Yes, though employers may ask graduates to qualify for and earn a CPA license within 2-3 years. This license requires 1-2 years of professional experience.

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