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Earning an Associate Degree in Accounting Makes Cents (and Dollars!)

When it comes to business, money talks, and the language it speaks is Accounting. Additionally, it’s a stable, growing industry that pays well and comes with tons of career opportunities at various education levels. Sounds pretty good, right?

What Do Accounting Classes Teach You? What Are College Accounting Classes Like?

Accounting classes will teach you a variety of things related to the functions of business. You’ll start with courses relating to basic business and finance principles, where you’ll learn more about the vocabulary and a lot of the general concepts involved. After that, you might choose to focus in a more specific area, with options like financial, managerial or cost accounting – just to name a few.

In the words of North Lake Accounting professor Stephanie Swaim: “Math is more conceptual than Accounting; Accounting is more procedural and theoretical. So to be successful in Accounting, it just takes time and practice.”

Brookhaven professor Clarice McCoy agrees with this sentiment. She asserts that the idea “accountants must be good at math” is a myth. “In Accounting, the old adage ‘practice makes perfect’ is true. In an Accounting course, the best predictor of success is ‘time on task’—practice, practice, and more practice.

“Many people are intimidated by Accounting careers because they assume the work involves the highest level of math. You’ll be happy to hear that this assertion is incorrect. Accounting is much more about theory than math. Most accountants will tell you, ‘I’m definitely not a math whiz. I add, subtract, multiply and divide, always using a calculator!’ It’s important to have a good understanding of fractions, percentages and decimals, as well as knowing how to use Microsoft Excel. These are all skills that are covered in most Accounting degree programs.”

To get a little more specific, you’ll also learn how to construct and work through basic financial statements such as balance sheets, cash flow statements, income statements and more. You’ll also study other fundamentals like generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and the nature of assets, liabilities and equity. For most degree plans, you will probably also take courses on the principles of microeconomics and macroeconomics.

As your knowledge base grows, you’ll start to learn more about topics like managerial accounting, which emphasizes things like product costs, operational budgeting and planning, cost control and more. Perhaps most importantly, a huge part this program involves learning how to use reported financial information for the purposes of making good strategic business decisions – an essential part of keeping any business afloat.

Accounting is an excellent major for college students due to the field’s stability, as every business or organization needs some kind of accountant or bookkeeper to keep financial records in order.

Where to Take Accounting Classes: Online and in Person

If you prefer a more traditional classroom environment, you’re in luck. The three primary awards you can get at any DCCCD college are:

  • The Accounting Associate in Applied Sciences Degree, which provides preparation for various career opportunities, with specializations that include financial, managerial, cost, tax, and/or small business management.
  • The Accounting Assistant Certificate, which is designed to provide expanded knowledge of basic principles while emphasizing communication and human relations skills necessary for career advancement.
  • The Accounting Clerk Certificate, which emphasizes development of basic accounting, spreadsheet, word processing and ten-key skills.

Of course, if a regular classroom environment isn’t your thing – for whatever reason – you can also take Accounting classes online through Dallas Colleges Online, which offers all three of the above awards. Online classes can be a great way to earn credits from any location with an internet connection.

How Many Accounting Classes Are Needed for a CPA?

If you already have a bachelor’s degree but need to brush up on your skills – or even if your bachelor’s isn’t necessarily in accounting – Mountain View also offers an Advanced Technical Certificate in Professional Accountancy. This program requires a minimum of 39 credit hours (about 16 classes depending on what you take) for completion and prepares students to sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam in the state of Texas.

Jobs You Can Get With an Accounting Associate Degree

With an associate degree, starting salary can range from about $25,000-$35,000 annually. The availability and types of jobs can vary. Typically, jobs for someone with an associate degree in accounting can include bookkeeping, auditing, payroll, timekeeping and financial clerking. Over time, it might also be possible for someone with an associate degree to develop the skills and experience to advance from a junior position to an accountant position through strong performance on the job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accounting jobs are expected to experience annual job growth of 11 percent for accountants and auditors, which is better than the average.

Associate Degree vs. Bachelor’s Degree

Notably, an associate degree can lead to full-time work relatively quickly – in about two years when attending classes full time. But your earning potential will increase significantly as you further your education to a bachelor’s degree or beyond. You’ll need at least a bachelor’s to sit for the CPA exam, and with more studying comes a higher earning potential – up to $78,000 annually or more in Texas.

For reference, here’s some information on the wages and employment levels of recent DCCCD graduates:

 Average wage  $43,000 annually
 Highest wage  $65,000 annually
 Average employment rate  77%

As you move up through the ranks, you may be able to make six figures or more. So according to our calculations, studying Accounting not only makes cents, but dollars, too!

It All Adds Up When You Apply for Admission at DCCCD

Accounting College Scholarships

If you’re interested in Accounting, it’s likely you’re also interested in breaking down the numbers of how to pay for it. The DCCCD Foundation offers the following scholarship opportunities for qualified students:

An Accounting Industry Interview with PricewaterhouseCoopers

PricewaterhouseCoopers is a multinational company headquartered in London. It is the largest professional services firm in the world, with a focus on audit and assurance and tax and consulting services. In the US, PwC concentrates on 16 key industries and provides targeted services that include – but are not limited to – human resources, deals, forensics and consulting services. Recently we sat down with PwC North Texas Sourcing Leader Amy Kraft — here’s what she had to say.

What degrees/certificates/skills are in highest demand?

“While the majority of our positions are for students majoring in accounting, we do have a variety of opportunities for people in other areas of study. We are particularly interested in students with knowledge of data analytics and other STEM majors.”

How many new employees do you foresee hiring in the next five years?

“PwC hires 11,000 people off [college] campuses each year. That’s a combination of interns and full-time employees. This fiscal year, our North Texas market hired approximately 500 students off of campuses and we anticipate our hiring numbers will continue to grow.”

What are some common misconceptions about working in Accounting?

“One common misconception is that you would be working independently, in isolation from colleagues. That could not be farther from the truth as you are regularly working with a PwC team in serving clients.

“[Another is] boring/routine work — the world is changing and the needs of our clients are changing; it could not be a more exciting time to join the profession to solve problems and shape the future of business.”

Are there opportunities for advancement as an entry-level employee?

“You will have an opportunity to shape your career from day one at PwC. Through training, coaching and on-the-job experience, you can navigate a compelling, engaging career path in a place where others will work to ensure your success. You quickly take on a coaching role with your teams, reviewing work and providing feedback and guidance. There are few professions where you are exposed to such opportunity and responsibility so early in your career.

“While the typical course to promotion from associate to senior associate takes three years, there is opportunity to advance more quickly if you are performance ready. PwC offers mid-year promotions to those individuals who have demonstrated they are prepared to undertake a new role.”

What does that path look like?

“Every career path is different. That’s why we help you design your own journey. We are committed to developing leaders at all levels. You will develop your whole leadership, relationships, technical capabilities, business acumen and global acumen — all skill sets we feel are instrumental to a professional’s success. Starting your career with us, you can expect a learning culture where teamwork and collaboration are encouraged, excellence is rewarded, and diversity is valued and respected.

“We are a firm that presents the career paths of our employees in an open and transparent way. We have prepared a model of competencies which an employee should possess at particular stages of professional development. If you fulfill all of the criteria described to the given level, it means you are ready to enter the next level. You are in control of your own career!”

According to Kraft, a typical career at PwC follows this path:

  • Associate
  • Senior Associate
  • Manager
  • Senior Manager
  • Director
  • Partner

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One Comment

  1. I completely agree with this post. Getting an associates degree in accounting is one of the best decisions I’ve made in academic career. Big firms are looking for employees with this type of education. Great post!

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