Can I Get an Associate’s Degree in Accounting?

In an uncertain economy, you may hope to find a lasting career that does not require a long-term educational commitment, and wonder whether you can get an Associate’s degree in accounting. If you’re interested in this field, obtaining an Associate’s degree is the first step and an excellent way to break into this rewarding and crucial industry. Forbes reports that earning an Associate’s degree in accounting can enable you to change your career or get started in a new one in two years or less.

Finding a program

Earning an Associate’s degree will typically take one to two years for full-time students and somewhat longer for those students choosing a part-time educational route. Programs are available in both traditional on-campus and online formats. Business, technical and community colleges all offer a selection of accounting concentrations. They are generally structured for students who want a more conventional approach to learning and are looking to benefit from the social aspects of school and from face-to-face interaction with instructors. Online accounting courses are abundant and afford students the flexibility to balance work and family obligations with educational goals. It is important to find a program that is accredited through state and national agencies to obtain the highest standards for a quality education. Check out 10 Best Online Accounting Schools for more information.

Choosing a specialty

Regardless of which degree type you choose, all students pursuing an Associate’s degree in accounting will benefit from a solid foundation of basic accounting skills. With an understanding of cost accounting, financial statement analysis, taxation, and accounting technology, the student can determine what type of accounting best fits their career goals. Areas of study include: asset management, tax requirements, auditing, environmental accounting, international accounting, mergers and acquisitions, forensics and fraud examination, financial reporting, managerial accounting, risk management and strategic planning. A thorough understanding of the skills needed and responsibilities of each position will help in choosing the right accounting track. Because an Associate’s degree program is shorter than a Bachelor’s program, courses tend to focus on career-specific information, such as bookkeeping and payroll skills.

Finding a job

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts that accounting positions will grow by approximately 11 percent over the next six years. Graduates who have earned an Associate’s degree in accounting can anticipate qualifying for entry-level positions such as accounts receivable/payable clerk, bookkeeper, payroll clerk, accounting assistant and management trainee. With experience and additional training, accounting specialists can often seek promotions to more skilled levels within the organization.

Anticipated salaries

Salary.com has compiled data for positions available for students who receive an Associate’s degree in accounting. Factors such as company size, geographic location, demand and skill level affect salary. However, median annual salaries for entry-level accounting positions are:

-Accounts receivable/payable clerk: $25,000
-Bookkeeper: $39,000
-Payroll clerk: $37,900
-Accounting assistant: $33,200
-Management trainee: $55,300

Many organizations encourage staff members to obtain additional training through employee scholarship programs. By taking advantage of these academic opportunities, advanced career levels can be achieved without additional expense to the employee.

By developing the proper accounting, communication and technological skills needed for today’s complex business models, college graduates will find endless opportunities in accounting. With so many methods of obtaining degrees on-campus and online, you can get an Associate’s degree in accounting, and change your salary, your career, and your life in a relatively short time.

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