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Best Degrees for a Career in Accounting

While an entry-level job in accounting could, at one time, be obtained with a high-school diploma, college-level coursework is becoming the norm. If you want to enter the field of accounting with the least amount of college, the best degree programs are associate's degrees in accounting or finance. These programs often take approximately two years to complete, but some colleges offer accelerated programs. An associate's degree in accounting could prepare you for a position as an accounts receivable or accounts payable clerk, or for an assistant position in a large accounting department.

Job opportunities increase for candidates with bachelor's degrees in accounting, the top college degree for those seeking to work as full-fledged accountants. A candidate with a bachelor's in accounting might find employment as a tax accountant, auditor, or general accountant.

CPA Is Top Degree in Accounting

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that accountants who obtain certification as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) on top of a bachelor's degree should have the best job opportunities. If your objective is to become a CPA, the best college degree is one that prepares you with the additional coursework you need to obtain CPA certification. While requirements for CPA certification vary from state to state, most states require a certain number of coursework hours beyond a bachelor's degree, experience working as an accountant (usually two years), and completion of a four-part examination.

Graduate Accounting Degrees

Some financial managers, such as controllers, treasurers, and finance officers, hold backgrounds in accounting. If this is your accounting career of choice, the best degree may be a master's in business administration with a concentration in accounting. These credentials may best position you to work as part of a management team.

If a bachelor's and master's degree aren't enough for the career you want, consider the pinnacle of educational achievement: the PhD. If you aspire to teach at the college level, a PhD is your top degree option. Accountants with PhDs are widely sought by universities and colleges to train those seeking an education in accounting.

No matter which accounting career and education level you choose, you are likely to find yourself with excellent job prospects. The BLS projects that by 2018, there should be approximately 279,400 new jobs for accountants and auditors and 212,400 new jobs for accounting, bookkeeping, and auditing clerks. Whichever degree you choose, you can rest assured that you are setting yourself up for a career that is in demand.

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