Accounting programs with tax specialization options at the 2-year associate's degree level are fairly uncommon. Students can more often find general accounting degree programs with coursework designed to train prospective tax preparers, or programs that allow students to transfer easily to more advanced accounting programs where a tax specialization may be available. Associate's degree programs can prepare students for entry-level roles as bookkeepers or accounting clerks. Prerequisites for most programs include a high school diploma or GED.
Associate's Degree in Accounting with Tax Specialization
These programs commonly focus on various aspects of accounting, including taxation, as well as fundamental business concepts, accounting software and law. Some course topics could include:
- Tax accounting
- Payroll accounting
- Fraud examination
- Human relations
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many tax preparers have a bachelor's degree as well as some professional experience, although an associate degree plus relevant work experience could be sufficient for some job opportunities (www.bls.gov). The BLS predicted that employment rates in this field would rise 6% from 2018-2028. In May 2018, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for tax preparers was $39,390.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
In order to work legally as a tax preparer, an individual must be registered with the IRS in order to obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number. In addition, states may require tax preparers to become certified through a state-level agency, such as a Board of Tax Practitioners, which would require future tax preparers to pass a tax preparer examination.
Since a bachelor's degree is the standard educational expectation for most tax professionals, according to the BLS, aspiring tax specialists could consider transferring from an associate degree program into a bachelor's degree program in accounting. Additionally, at the graduate level, a student could enroll in a master's degree program in accounting, which is typically designed to prepare students to become Certified Public Accountants in their state.
Some associate's degree programs in accounting have focus areas for tax preparation or courses you can take to gain skills and training in tax preparation. Students who take part in these programs will complete coursework in tax accounting, human relations, and bookkeeping.