What Are the Requirements for a Career in Accounting?

Employers and clients trust their accountants to handle sensitive business information and to understand and comply with complex regulations. That’s why most accountants need specialized training to demonstrate their competency for this challenging work.

Read on to learn about what you can do to prepare for your accounting career, whether you’re in currently in high school or considering a career change. Learn more from our homepage about Accounting.

What What Should I Study in High School?

Maybe it’s already obvious to you that, if you want to be successful in Accounting, you should try to excel in the most advanced math classes you can take. But there are some other useful areas of study that might surprise you!

For example, courses in computer science will help prepare you for the industry of the future. Employers are looking for workers with skills in areas like data analytics, according to a recent article in the Journal of Accountancy. Any computer-related classes that you can take will almost certainly help in your career down the line.

Accountants often have to explain complex data to clients or colleagues. For this reason, developing your writing and communication skills will help prepare you to move up the management ladder.

And if you really want to stand out on your college applications? Join a business club! This will give you a chance to start building your professional network before you graduate from high school.

Do I Need a College Degree?

Some entry-level jobs in Accounting don’t require any education beyond high school, but if you want to be able to earn the higher salaries, college is the way to go.

Earning a certificate or associate degree in Accounting from a community college or technical school will prepare you to enter the workforce in as little as one or two years – and after you land that first job, you can always go back to get more education. Just be sure to attend an accredited institution, so that your credits will transfer if you ever decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

A bachelor’s degree in accounting, business, economics or a related field can all open the door to a career in as an accountant or auditor. Bachelor’s degrees in Accounting are often designed to help you prepare for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, too. But for the most career flexibility and highest earning potential, a master’s degree is probably the way to go.

There are also doctoral programs in Accounting. Teaching college-level Accounting courses is the most common career path for people who earn a PhD in Accounting.

What Accounting Certification Is the Best?

The most common certification for accountants is the Certified Professional Accountant (CPA) credential. Have you heard of the bar exam that lawyers have to pass before they’re allowed to practice law? Well, the CPA exam is rumored to be even more challenging! And according to Beta Alpha Psi, an organization for the financial field, accountants with CPAs can earn 10 to 15 percent more than their non-CPA counterparts.

There’s a whole alphabet soup of other credentials that you can hold instead of or in addition to the CPA license. Just a few of the credentials you could earn include:

  • Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)
  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
  • Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
  • Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Certified Information Systems Advisor (CISA)

All of these credentials have education and experience requirements, and many also have exams and ethics agreements that you must complete in order to add the letters after your title. The CPA credential in particular can vary by state in its requirements, which are set by each state’s board of accountancy.

Changing regulations and advances in technology mean that ongoing education is typically required to maintain a CPA license. But that just means that you’ll never be bored as an accountant!