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Career Information for a Degree in General Accounting

Sep 10, 2019

Accountants require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about degree programs, job duties, career information and licensure requirements to see if this is the right choice for you.

A bachelor's degree in accounting will prepare individuals for a career as an accountant or auditor. Accountants and auditors typically enjoy working with numbers, as they may be required to maintain accounts, analyze budgets, review financial records and manage company finances.

Essential Information

General accounting could be an ideal career choice for individuals with a head for details who enjoy working with numbers. General accounting degree programs teach people to create and review financial records and prepare them to work as public accountants, budget analysts, financial managers and other related professionals.

Required Education A bachelor's degree in accounting or a bachelor's degree in business with a concentration in accounting
Licensure and Certification State licensure is required to work as a CPA; voluntary specialty certification is available
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 6% growth (for accountants and auditors)*
Median Salary (2018) $70,500 (for accountants and auditors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Individuals with degrees in general accounting might pursue careers in areas like public accounting, government accounting, management accounting or internal auditing. Upon graduating from a graduate-level accounting degree program, many choose to become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). They also might pursue careers as public accountants, budget analysts or financial managers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of auditors and accountants was expected to grow 6% from 2018-2028. Contributing to this growth was the increasing number of new businesses, government regulations and financial laws, all of which require more diligent accounting. The BLS also reported that accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $70,500 in 2018.

Degree Programs

For entry-level accounting positions, a bachelor's degree is usually required, although graduates of associate's degree programs might find positions and receive on-the-job training. Bachelor's degree programs in accounting are commonly offered as concentration options within business degree programs.

Aspiring accountants also might pursue a master's degree. Students learn to prepare financial statements and reports by applying accounting and business principles. Course topics might include managerial accounting, business law, macroeconomics, cost accounting, small business income tax and fraud examination. Participants also might participate in internships.

Licensure and Certification

Most states require CPAs to complete 150 semester hours of coursework to obtain certification, which typically calls for the completion of a master's degree program. Only CPAs can file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). To become a CPA, an accountant must pass the 4-part examination administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

The AICPA also grants specialty certification in areas like business valuation, financial planning and information technology. Additionally, accountants can obtain certification through the Information Audit and Control Association, the Institute of Management Accountants and the Institute of Internal Auditors.

A bachelor's degree in accounting can lead to a career as an accountant or auditor. Certification may also be required, and those interested in becoming Certified Professional Accountants will need to complete a master's degree as well. The BLS predicts a 6% increase in the number of jobs for accountants and auditors from 2018-2028, which is as fast as average when compared to all occupations, and suggests there will be good job prospects for individuals with a degree in this field.

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