A career in accounting information systems can lead down many different paths. Some career options include becoming a computer systems analyst, a management consultant or an accountant. A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum educational requirement for these positions, with some openings requiring a master's degree.
Accounting information systems (AIS) careers require degrees that combine business or accounting processes with computer skills to create and audit data and accounting systems. These graduates have access to a number of computer-related careers, such as systems analyst, consultant, and accountant.
|Education Requirements||Bachelor's degree (preferably in a computer-related field) or an MBA with an information systems concentration||Bachelor's degree; MBA preferred by some employers||Bachelor's or master's degree in accounting|
|Certifications||None||Certified Management Consultant (CMC) certification optional||Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential required for filing reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), additional optional certifications available|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||21%*||14% for all management analysts||11% for all accountants and auditors|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)*||$85,800||$81,320 for all management analysts||$67,190 for all accountants and auditors*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Systems analysts, often called computer systems analysts, plan multiple-computer systems. This involves meeting with clients to find out what they need their systems to do and then making a plan to achieve those goals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a large number of accounting processes are computerized, which creates a need for highly complex accounting systems. Systems analysts with AIS backgrounds are tasked with researching and developing accounting systems that are cost-effective, easy-to-use, and quick.
The BLS reported that most systems analysts hold bachelor's degrees, usually in a computer-related field. A master's degree in computer science or business administration may be required for high-level positions. As of May 2015, the median annual salary of systems analysts was $85,800, based on BLS figures. The BLS predicted an employment growth of 21% for systems analysts between 2014 and 2024, a rate faster than the national average.
Those with high problem-solving and analytical abilities might find work as consultants who specialize in information systems, also called management analysts. Many companies take advantage of consultants when attempting to plan systems outside their area of expertise. For example, a growing CPA firm might recognize the need for an upgraded accounting system to help users access all of the resources available to them. The firm's area of expertise, however, is in accounting, not computer systems. Thus, they hire a consultant to assess their needs and help them upgrade their current system to fit those needs.
According to the BLS, consultants are required to hold at least a bachelor's degree and sometimes an MBA. The Certified Management Consultant (CMC) certification by the Institute of Management Consultants may provide a competitive advantage. The BLS reported a median annual wage of $81,320 for management analysts as of May 2015. Job growth for management analysts from 2014 to 2024 was projected as 14%, which was faster than average. Though high growth rates were forecast, competition was expected to be great as well.
Accounting firms have branched out into many areas to meet the demands of customers. One such area is information technology consulting. According to the BLS, accounting firms present competition for consulting firms offering these same services. Many accountants who find themselves performing consulting tasks are categorized as public accountants. These individuals often work in accounting firms that offer a broad array of services to clients. Accountants with expertise in AIS can help clients design data processing systems that aid with accounting functions.
According to the BLS, accountants need a bachelor's degree in accounting or related field, or an MBA with a concentration in accounting. Any accountants filing information with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are required to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Numerous other certifications are available to accountants depending on their field of interest, including the Certified Management Accountant (CMA), the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), and the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA). CPAs can also obtain the Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV), Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP), or Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) certifications to increase their marketability.
Accountants and auditors earned a median annual wage of $67,190 as of May 2015, according to the BLS. The job outlook was favorable for these professionals, with a projected growth of 11% between 2014 and 2024. Increased growth was expected as the result of greater demand for transparency in accounting and an increased amount of competitiveness in the business world.
Regardless of what career path one wants to take in accounting information systems, an undergraduate education is a good place to start. A bachelor's degree in a finance-related or computer-related field is the requirement for some entry-level positions, with higher-level job openings placing a preference on candidates with a master's degree.