Most industries require some form of record keeping to remain in compliance with federal law. Accountants and healthcare managers are specific examples of public reporting professionals.
Associate's degree programs in accounting focus on introductory business and finance-related topics, such as proper record keeping. Healthcare management associate's degree programs are designed to teach the basics of healthcare law and financial accounting specific to the healthcare industry.
Graduates of these programs may consider obtaining a bachelor's and master's degree in a related field for the best job prospects. Applicants for both programs will need a high school diploma or GED.
Associate's Degree in Accounting
Associate's degree programs in accounting train students to manage money and make financial recommendations to businesses and individuals. Students learn about business operation costs, tax rules and auditing techniques. They also gain skills using spreadsheet applications and other accounting software programs and technologies. Topics in financial reporting, supply-chain management and business law are explored in addition to a few general education course requirements. Common accounting-specific courses may include:
- Financial accounting
- Strategic cost analysis
- Federal income tax
- Accounting information systems
- Organizational behavior
- Managerial accounting
Associate's Degree in Healthcare Management
Associate's degree programs in healthcare management provide instruction about medical facility operations, personnel management and reimbursement strategies. Students learn about patient care protocols and medical organization policies. They also receive training in patient record and information management and quality control of patient care, along with some general education requirements. Healthcare management programs also delve into business administration, medical terminology and healthcare management technology. Some common healthcare topics explored in these programs include:
- Healthcare financial accounting
- Medical ethics
- Healthcare law
- Managed medical care
- Healthcare insurance providers
Popular Career Options
Graduates with associate's degrees in accounting generally do not possess enough academic training to become accountants, although some employers may hire associate's degree graduates as accountant assistants. Other possible careers for this level of education may include:
- Junior accounting associate
- Accounting clerk
Some careers that include the highest level of public reporting include health services managers and accountants. Most healthcare management positions require applicants to hold bachelor's degrees or higher. Nevertheless, experience plays a significant role in preparing for management jobs. Some entry-level healthcare careers that may provide useful experience include:
- Medical records specialist
- Health information technician
- Medical registrar
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical records and health information technicians earned a median annual salary of $37,110 as of May 2015. From 2014 to 2024, a much faster than average employment growth of 15% was projected by the BLS for these professionals. As of May 2015, bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks earned an annual median salary of $37,250, reports the BLS. The organization also predicted an 8% employment decline for this occupation from 2014 to 2024.
Continuing Education Information
The BLS noted that healthcare management positions often require master's degrees, although bachelor's degrees may be suitable for some positions, particularly those within smaller organizations. Some healthcare management positions require professionals to obtain state licensure, according to the BLS. For example, administrators at nursing care facilities must become licensed by meeting educational requirements and passing state exams. To maintain licenses, professionals generally have to complete continued education coursework on a frequent basis.
To become accountants, the BLS reported that individuals need at least a bachelor's degree, although some employers may prefer applicants who hold master's degrees (www.bls.gov). Becoming a licensed and certified public accountant usually involves obtaining at least a bachelor's degree and years of experience. Professionals in the accounting and auditing industry are usually expected to stay up-to-date on changes with tax laws and other financial issues. To obtain additional training and education, many attend seminars or college courses on topics such as accounting software programs and financial form updates.
Students interested in public reporting might consider an associate's degree in accounting or healthcare management to prepare for bachelor's or master's degree programs. Graduates of associate's degree programs can also use their new knowledge of record keeping, management and the healthcare system to pursue entry-level employment.