How to Become an Accountant

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Contributor, Benzinga
May 13, 2020

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If you have a knack for numbers, a career as an accountant may be a good fit. You can assist organizations with financial decisions making it so they can operate more efficiently and boost profits, or you can start a business and serve small business owners. 

In this detailed guide, you will discover what it takes to become an accountant. 

Accounting Overview

Accounting is a rewarding career that allows you to work in many industries. But what exactly do accountants do and is the profession lucrative? Do you need a degree to get your foot in the door and what are the job prospects? 

These are all viable questions to ponder before you decide to work in this profession. 

Job Description

Accountants help ensure the financial operations of an organization are running smoothly. They prepare financial documentation for management and key stakeholders and confirm that financial statements comply with regulations and laws set forth by governing bodies. 

Other roles and responsibilities may include: 

  • Calculating the company’s tax liability 
  • Reviewing the company’s accounting records and systems to confirm they comply with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) 
  • Identifying ways to operate more efficiently, boost profits and communicate key findings to management 

Choose from a career in government, management or as a certified public accountant. Some accounting degree holders pursue careers as external, internal or information technology auditors. Depending on the path you select, there may be additional educational and licensure requirements. 

Some accountants work primarily in office settings while others travel to client sites and work remotely. You can expect to work 40 or more hours per week, but some months require far more hours on the job than others. 

Salary Information

On average, accountants earn $71,550 per year or $34.40 per hour. However, this amount varies by industry. A closer look at salaries from sectors that are top employers of accountants: 

  • Accounting, tax, preparation, bookkeeping and payroll services: $71,390
  • Finance and insurance: $76,440
  • Government: $70,180
  • Management of companies and enterprises: $74,060

Education Requirements

If you want to get noticed by prospective employers, you will need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or another closely related field. This will get your foot in the door when going for entry-level roles. But leveling up to more complex roles or landing a position as a manager usually calls for a master’s degree in accounting or a master of business administration with a concentration in accounting. 

Consider colleges and universities that offer degree completion programs if you already have an associate’s degree or college credit. Some institutions also feature dual-degree programs that allow you to earn your bachelor’s and master’s degrees in just 5 years. 

Job Outlook

The projected growth rate through 2028 is approximately 6% for accountants, according to This is the industry average for most occupations. 

Steps to Becoming an Accountant 

Follow these simple steps to work toward your career goal of becoming an accountant. 

Earn your Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree in accounting is enough to land a job as an accountant and you can rise through the ranks as you gain more experience in the field. You can also pursue a master’s degree to position yourself for even more rewarding opportunities following graduation. 

When evaluating colleges and universities, be mindful of their reputation. You want a degree from a school that’s accredited, reputable in the eyes of employers and has a high job placement rate for recent graduates. 

Accounting can be a challenging subject to grasp, so small classes are ideal. Individualized attention from your professor and teaching assistants means you should be able to navigate the program and reach the finish line on time. 

Another benefit of earning your bachelor’s degree is the free access you’ll have to career planning and readiness resources. They are offered by most colleges and universities and can be vital when preparing to enter the workforce. 

Invest in Continuing Education

It’s never a bad idea to invest in yourself. Continuing education courses are an excellent way to stay on top of the latest trends and developments in the accounting world and learn new approaches to execute tasks.

Courses are available on an array of platforms. There are several options for all skill levels to meet your needs and budget.

Capitalize on Networking Opportunities 

College professors are a great resource and they can connect you with people who work in the field. But that’s not the only way to network. You should also attend career fairs and networking events for students that are held on campus. It’ll help forge relationships with individuals at companies you’d like to work for when you graduate. 

Best Universities for Becoming an Accountant 

Consider these online accounting degree programs to acquire the tools and foundational knowledge needed to get hired. 

1. Auburn University 


The online bachelor of science in business administration and accountancy from Auburn University is ideal for working professionals and degree holders who want to level up their careers. It’s also a good fit for future CPA candidates and is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB). Students who complete this degree program will be prepared to work as financial managers, governmental accountants, internal auditors, managerial accountants and tax accountants. 

2. University of Maryland 


Consider an online bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Maryland’s Global Campus if you seek flexible career options or plan to sit for the CPA exam. Students learn how to prepare and analyze financial data, audit financial data, conduct fraud detection activities and aid managers in making sound financial decisions. The curriculum also delves into core accounting principles, auditing, cost accounting, business law, economics, income taxation and statistics. You can also take courses that count toward master’s degrees in accounting and financial management, management with a specialization in accounting and accounting and information systems. 

Get a handle on core accounting concepts before enrolling in a degree program or enhance your knowledge with these in-depth courses. 

1. How to Become an Accountant from Scratch!

Source: Udemy

Just $9.99 gets you a seat in this beginner course that teaches you the basics of accounting in only 2 hours. Enroll today for instant access to 15 lectures condensed into 2 hours of on-demand video, 2 articles and 15 downloadable resources. You will also receive a certificate of completion when you reach the finish line. This class is offered by The FourWeekMBA. 

Enroll now

2. Accounting Basics – A Complete Study 

Source: Udemy

This highly rated Udemy course covers the essentials of accounting. It’s ideal for accounting students who seek a deeper understanding of the subject and want to learn more about best practices for handling common challenges faced by accounting professionals. Included with the $9.99 enrollment fee is full lifetime access to 39.5 hours of on-demand video, 2 articles, and 94 downloadable resources to facilitate your comprehension of the material. It’s led by Raja Natarajan, a chartered accountant. 

Enroll now

Jumpstart Your Accounting Career Today 

Take the first step toward achieving your goal of becoming an accountant. Check out our top degree programs and continuing education courses and select those that best suit your needs. With hard work and strategic networking, you’ll find yourself in the accounting role you’ve always wanted. 

Southern New Hampshire University Online

SNHU Online Offers:

  1. Flexible schedules
  2. Affordable tuition
  3. Online tutoring
  4. Access to electronic research materials
  5. Specialized academic advising
  6. Supportive online community

Learn more at SNHU.