Overview of Online Certificate Programs in Nonprofit Accounting
Online certificate programs in nonprofit accounting focus on standard accounting techniques such as financial statement analysis and budget resolutions, but from the perspective of a nonprofit organization. They are ideal for established accountants looking to diversify their skill sets and find work with nonprofit agencies, or these programs are also useful for executives already working in a nonprofit who do not have accounting experience and need help managing their finances.
Admissions requirements for these programs are generally minimal and the programs accept all types of students, although prospective students should be aware that one must have a bachelor's degree in order to become an accountant. Working accountants can opt for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification, which is required for any accountant looking to file a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Description of Nonprofit Accounting Certificate Programs
These certificate programs are available on-campus and through distance learning, with online offerings being 100% digital and some programs offering blended programs that offer both online and on-campus instruction. Students usually do not need to have any prior coursework or work experience related to accounting. Nonprofit accounting certificate programs generally consist of a series of courses ranging from four offerings to as many as 11. Depending on the number of courses and learning styles, programs can take as little as a few months and as long as a year to complete.
The delivery format varies from one certificate program to the next. Some programs feature instructor-led sessions that meet at specific times, allowing students to feel more involved and engage with professors and their fellow students. Other offerings are entirely self-paced and allow students to learn whenever they like, which is a favorable option for students with busy or unpredictable work schedules.
Course topics include an overview of accounting principles and techniques, with special consideration being given to the unique regulations and laws that impact organizations with nonprofit status. Common course subjects include financial statement analysis, revenue generation, internal controls, and cost allocation, all of which are studied from a nonprofit perspective. Some programs may take a broader approach and also consider other aspects related to nonprofit management with courses that introduce students to topics in marketing, fundraising, and leadership strategy.
Job Opportunities for Online Certificate Programs in Nonprofit Accounting
Those who hold a certificate in nonprofit accounting can look for jobs with nonprofit organizations hiring for roles such as accountants, accounting managers, and even chief financial officers. Aspiring accountants need to have at least a bachelor's degree in accounting and a certificate is not enough to find employment by itself, but having a specialized certificate can make a candidate who already has a bachelor's degree more appealing, especially for nonprofits.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the job outlook for all accountants and auditors (not just those in the nonprofit sector) remains steady. The BLS estimates that employment of accountants will grow 6% from 2018-2028, a rate that is consistent with other professions and would lead to the creation of 90,700 jobs. Among other factors, an increasingly globalized marketplace and economic growth should lead to more complicated tax laws and regulations, which in turn increases the need for accountants and auditors. The BLS also noted good earning potential for this role and found that the median salary was $70,500 per year as of 2018.
Online certificate programs in nonprofit accounting equip students with an advanced understanding of traditional accounting concepts, but through the lens of a nonprofit organization. Graduates who complete these certificates will improve their chances of finding work with nonprofits thanks to the specialized skills and knowledge they gain in these programs.