Associate Vs. Bachelor's Degree in Accounting: What's the Difference?
Are you interested in pursuing a career in accounting? Are you having a difficult time trying to decide between an associate's degree and a bachelor's degree in accounting? Read on to learn about these programs and the career options, earning potential and employment prospects for graduates. Schools offering Accounting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Choosing an Associate's or Bachelor's Degree in Accounting
One major difference between an associate's degree program and a bachelor's degree program is the selection of career opportunities available after your graduate. An associate's degree in accounting may qualify you for entry-level positions, such as accounting clerk, bookkeeper or auditing clerk. More advanced careers in accounting, such as public accountant, internal auditor or management accountant, tend to require a bachelor's degree in accounting. You may benefit from choosing a career goal before selecting a degree program.
You can usually complete an associate's degree program in accounting in two years. During that time, you'll complete coursework in basic principles of accounting and statistics that prepare you for the finance and bookkeeping aspect of the profession. Courses may include payroll management, cost accounting, business management and federal taxation. You can also expect to learn accounting and bookkeeping software, which are often used in the profession.
Earning Potential and Job Outlook
In May 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that accounting clerks, bookkeepers and auditing clerks earned a median annual wage of $34,030 (www.bls.gov). While these entry-level workers may hold as little as high school diplomas, associate's degrees are becoming increasingly important and may bring about greater employment opportunities. The bureau reports that employment of these professionals was expected to increase ten percent from 2008-2018.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
Bachelor's degree programs in accounting are available at colleges, universities and business schools and typically take four years to complete. These programs provide advanced career training focused on concepts and strategies of accounting. You may take introductory courses in economics, statistics and information management. Upper-level coursework tends to cover topics like tax planning, accounting theory and ethics, business law, fraud analysis and marketing techniques. Bachelor's degree curricula may also incorporate internships, which allow you to gain practical accounting experience in the field.
Compared to associate's degree programs, bachelor's degree programs tend to offer students more learning options. While you may choose simply pursue a 4-year degree in accounting, some programs allow students to focus on one aspect of the field. For example, you might earn a bachelor's degree in accounting with a concentration in public or government accounting. Additionally, some schools offer dual-degree programs that combine accounting with related majors, such as finance or computer information systems.
Earning Potential and Job Outlook
Accountants and auditors - who tend to hold bachelor's degrees in accounting - earned a median annual wage of $61,690, according to the BLS in May 2010. The bureau also reported that employment of accountants and auditors was expected to increase 22% from 2008-2018. Those who hold professional certification, which typically entails at least a bachelor's degree, were expected to benefit from the greatest job opportunities.
To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below: