The most common associate-level program in accounting is an Associate of Applied Science (AAS). Interested students can also earn an associate's degree in Business Administration or Business Technology program with a concentration in accounting. These programs introduce students to the basics of business operations, financial management and office skills. Students can learn recordkeeping procedures involving business calculations, document formatting and database management. Participants may get real-time accounting experience through internships and cooperative education.
Applicants must have a high school diploma or the equivalent in order to enroll. Some schools also require a certain number of math and science credits to be completed before applicants are accepted into the accounting program. Most programs take two years to complete. While graduates can find employment as bookkeepers or clerks, those interested in obtaining licensure and certification in accounting need to pursue further education.
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Associate's Degrees for Occupational Studies
Students in these programs take technical courses covering accounting basics, computer systems, word processing and administrative support technology. Course topics may include:
- Federal income taxes
- Records management
- Payroll/spreadsheet applications
- Cost accounting
- Applied business techniques
Popular Career Options
Graduates of an AOS program with an emphasis in accounting are prepared for employment in businesses, academic institutions and government agencies. Possible job titles include:
- Accounts receivable clerk
- Accounts payable clerk
- Payroll clerk
- Cost accounting clerk
- General accounting clerk
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerk employment growth rate is estimated to be a decline of 8% during the 2014-2024 decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov). Median annual earnings for this category of clerks were $37,250 in May 2015. Payroll and timekeeping clerk employment is estimated to decline by 3% during the 2014-2024 period. The BLS reported May 2015 median earnings of $41,000 for these clerks.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates may pursue further education to become accountants or auditors. A bachelor's degree is usually the minimum requirement to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), which is necessary for work involving filing reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). To obtain licensure and certification, one must meet state requirements and pass a national certification examination. Accountants and CPAs must complete continuing education to maintain licensure.
To summarize, there are both AOS and AAS programs that cover basic business topics related to accounting. After finishing one of these degrees, graduates can seek entry-level employment in the field, or they can transfer into bachelor's degree programs if they want to continue on the track to CPA licensure.