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Online Diplomas and Certificates for Accountants

Research online accounting courses and certificate programs. Find out what you can learn in these courses and what you'll need in order to participate in online learning to determine if it's right for you.

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Essential Information

Online certificate programs in accounting are designed to provide basic knowledge of accounting principles and practices. Most of these programs can be completed totally through distance learning, but certain programs offer classes on campus. The programs usually require four or five courses. Those courses may include business law, cost accounting and corporate finance.

In order to pursue a career in accounting, an individual will usually need at least a bachelor's degree. In many cases, credits from a certificate program will transfer to a bachelor's program. Specific software may be required.

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Accountant Certificate

Online undergraduate certificate programs for prospective accountants are structured to accommodate students who are interested in beginning a career in accounting. A typical curriculum may include courses in cost accounting, business valuation and corporate accounting. Most schools require prospective students to have a high school diploma or GED.

Program Information and Requirements

Most online accountant certificate programs require students to complete anywhere from 16-20 credits in accounting courses. Most schools also allow students to take courses for the certificate both online or in a classroom.

Students interested in online accounting certificate programs need to ensure their computers and Internet browsers meet school requirements. Typically, as long as individuals have a current operating system and plug-ins to view different types of media, they should be able to take online accounting courses through most institutions. Commonly used software for online programs include Flash Player and Adobe Reader.

Course Topics

Online accounting certificate programs teach students about financial accounting practices and financial principles. Common accounting courses include:

Cost Accounting

This course teaches students how to analyze cost and variance and make effective business decisions based on the resulting data. The course also discusses how cost accounting fits into a larger accounting department.

Corporate Finance

Corporate finance courses cover the methods accountants and financial managers use to make business decisions and investments. Topics may include the cost of capital, value of stocks and bonds, and risk and return.

Principles of Business Law

Students in a business law course study federal and local laws that govern business and finance. The course also covers contracts and limited liability companies, as well as addresses the topic of when to refer questions to a lawyer.

Business Valuation

A business valuation course teaches students to apply financial and economic theory to investment practices. Students learn practical methods to determine the cost of capital, free cash flow, total invested capital and economic profits.


Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for accountants in 2015 was around $67,190 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also states that career opportunities for accountants and auditors are expected to grow 11% over the period from 2014 to 2024. This growth is due to the development of new businesses, as well as changes to government business regulations and financial laws.

Continuing Education Information

Many of the courses offered in online accounting certificate programs can be later applied toward the completion of an undergraduate degree; according to the BLS, most accounting positions require a bachelor's degree at minimum. Individuals may also want to consider taking the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Examination or the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) examination. Most states require coursework beyond the bachelor's degree to sit for the CPA Exam, and post-bachelor's certificate programs in accounting can provide graduates with the necessary, additional credits.

Fully online programs in accounting cover basic accounting practices and principles. In many cases, credits earned in a certificate program can be applied to a bachelor's program, which is the minimum academic requirement in the field.

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