How to become an Accountant in 4 Simple Steps

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What is an Accountant


If you’re interested in how to become an accountant and want to know what they do, I will explain everything you need to know in this article.
Accountants prepare, examine, and audit financial records. They check financial records for accuracy, make sure the correct amount of tax is being paid, and that a business is operating lawfully.
They also perform the same duties for individuals as well as businesses. Accountants can be self-employed, work for businesses of any size, for firms of accountants, or in government positions.
This career is best suited to people who work best on their own, have a keen eye for details, and are strong with numbers. It’s an interesting career for those interested in finance. There is also a lot of opportunities to progress and earn a good living.

What Does An Accountant Do?

Accountants handle all of the financial responsibilities of business or individuals. There are different types of accountant. Such as management accountants, and financial accounts.
Management accountants work with budgets, forecasts, and look at the monthly financial position. While financial accountants are more interested in the actual financial position of a business and the year end reporting.

As an accountant you may handle receipts and invoices, checking them for accuracy. Or, putting together reports for managers and company directors. Almost all the work in computerized nowadays. Having good IT skills and being able to learn accounting programs is an advantage.

The https://careerswiki.com/how-much-do-accountants-make/” target=”_blank”>median accountant salary is $67,190

Key Duties of an Accountant Include:

  • Checking the accuracy of invoices, receipts, and other financial records
  • Logging financial details onto an accounting computer system
  • Producing financial reports for management
  • Producing budgets and making suggestions to improve the bottom line
  • Prepare tax return information
  • Desirable Skills of an Accountant

    Like all careers, being an accountant isn’t for everyone. People who do choose this career path will have a variation of challenges and enjoy different aspects of the role. Here are some skills that will help you transition into accountancy and have an edge over others:

    Good Organization Skills

    Accountants need to have control over a lot of financial records for a business. This means being very organized and filing paperwork or electronic records in an orderly manner. You will also need to be aware of deadlines and make sure the business meets all financial deadlines. Otherwise, there are potentially financial penalties, especially if tax deadlines are missed.

    Strong Math Skills

    This might seem like an obvious skillset to help you as an accountant. However, due to the effectiveness of computers it’s possible to be an accountant without being really strong with math and numbers. However, if you are good with math you will have an advantage.

    Good Communication Skills

    Accountants have a reputation for not being good at communicating. While this is true for a lot of people working in this industry, if you do have good communication skills it’s an advantage. Accountants need to communicate with other members of their team, management, and sometimes with shareholders and company directors.

    Trustworthy and Ethical

    With responsibility for money comes the need for strong ethical and trusting characteristics. There have been countless high-profile cases of accountants being involved in financial discrepancies. Being known as a trustworthy, professional, and ethical person will help you progress in your career.

    Accurate and Reliable Work Ethic

    Mistakes happen, we are all human. But mistakes in accountancy can be potentially very costly. Being accurate, througher, and having a reliable and strong work ethic are important assets for anyone interested in being an accountant.
    What is an Accountant

    Becoming an Accountant

    Step 1: Proper Accountant High school Preparation

    There are different requirements amongst the various types of the degrees you can choose to complete. But there are certain courses you can take while in high school that will put you ahead of competition. As there are no high school courses specific to accounting, a good idea is to take as many Advanced Placement (AP) classes related to math and economics as possible. Like Advanced Placement Statistics, Advanced Placement Economics, and Advanced Placement calculus.
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    Step 2: Get an Accounting Undergraduate Degree

    Accounting Certificate 6 months to 12 months

    These are short term programs that are offered either online or offline. They are a great option if you want to get a quick basic training on accounting and get in the job market as soon as possible. They are also a good option for people that are already employed and want to get a certificate to advance their careers.

    It is relatively easy to get accepted on a program like this as you will need only a high school diploma or a GED. These are usually 10 to 24 semester hour programs, with some required courses and some electives.

    The required courses will include the following:

    • Financial Accounting
    • Management Accounting
    • Mathematics for Business and Finance
    • Computer Applications in Accounting
    • Business Law
    • Principles of Finance
    • Intermediate Accounting I
    • Intermediate Accounting II
    • Intermediate Accounting III
    • Advanced Accounting
    • Business Ethics for Accountants
    • Federal Taxation
    • Auditing

    While the elective courses will include the following:

    • Advanced Auditing
    • Selected Topics in Advanced Accounting
    • Accounting for Non-Business Organizations
    • Fraud Examination
    • Federal Taxation II
    • Accounting Theory
    • Commercial Law I
    • Commercial Law II
    • Managerial Finance

    The cost of an accounting certificate program is relatively low and ranges from $3,000 to $10,000.

    When deciding which college or university you will attend it’s agood idea to talk with some of them and ask for information.

    Click the button below to get free info about accredited certificate programs near you
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    Associate’s Degree in Accounting 2 years

    Associate’s in Accounting are 60 to 96 semester hour programs, and it is relatively easy to get accepted with the requirements being a high school college or a GED. They are divided into 4 semesters. With some core requirement courses, some major courses and some elective courses. They can be completed either online or offline.

    Core requirement courses:

    • Strategies for Success
    • College Composition I
    • College Composition II
    • College Algebra
    • Survey of Mathematics
    • Computer Applications
    • Career Skills and Portfolio Development
    • Introduction to Internet Research
    • Business Communications
    • Business Math
    • Keyboarding
    • Applied Spreadsheets

    Major core courses:

    • Accounting I
    • Accounting II
    • Accounting III
    • Introduction to Managerial Accounting
    • Corporate Accounting
    • Microeconomics
    • Federal Tax
    • Business Math and Statistical Measures
    • Payroll Accounting
    • Non Profit Accounting
    • Tax Accounting
    • Introduction to Business
    • Applied Business Law
    • Applied Spreadsheets
    • Pathways to Academic Success
    • Introduction to Finance
    • Financial Statement Analysis
    • Principles of Management

    Elective courses:

    Social Science

    • Introduction to Psychology
    • American Government
    • Macroeconomics
    • Microeconomics
    • Essentials of Sociology
    • Composition I
    • Composition II
    • General Psychology

    Fine Arts

    • World Civilizations I
    • World Civilizations II
    • Music Appreciation
    • Introduction to American Literature

    Math & Computer Science

    • College Mathematics
    • Business Analysis
    • College Algebra

    Science

    • Elements of Chemistry
    • Basic Biology
    • Introduction to Ecology
    • Nutrition

    The cost of an Associate Degree in an accounting program either on campus or online ranges from $3,000 to $33,000.

    When deciding which college or university you will attend it’s agood idea to talk with some of them and ask for information.

    Click the button below to get free info about accredited training Associate’s Degree programs near you.
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    Bachelors in Accounting Degree 4 years

    Bachelor’s degree in accounting are 120 to 180 semester hour programs, and they are divided into 8 semesters. They are offered to be completed either online or offline. This type of degree is ideal for those who want to build a strong foundation in accounting and take their accounting skills to a next level.

    The benefits of a bachelor’s degree in accounting are the in depth study of accounting and the chance to advance with postgraduate degrees like masters and PhDs.

    Also, you are expected to get a higher starting salary than the Associate’s degree and certificate graduates. Thus the admission requirements are a bit tougher than the previous degrees and certificates.

    As a high school graduate you will need a high school diploma with good grades, especially in math courses, and a good score at the SAT College Admission Exam. Some universities have in house Accounting Entrance Exams you have to pass in order to get accepted. If you have an associate’s degree in accounting you will get instantly accepted into most programs.

    Core Preparation Courses (at least 20 credit hours):

    • Strategies for Success
    • Computer Applications
    • Career Skills and Portfolio Development
    • Internet Research
    • Business Communications
    • Business Math
    • Keyboarding
    • Applied Spreadsheets
    • Critical Thinking
    • Statistics
    • College Composition I
    • College Composition II
    • Professional Presence
    • An Introduction to American Government
    • Ethics
    • College Algebra
    • Survey of Mathematics
    • First Year Experience
    • Macroeconomics
    • Life Sciences
    • Microeconomics

    Major core courses (at least 40 credit hours):

    • Principles of Accounting I
    • Principles of Accounting II
    • Introductory Managerial Accounting
    • Introduction to Corporate Accounting
    • Computerized Accounting
    • Payroll Accounting
    • Non Profit Accounting
    • Intermediate Accounting I
    • Intermediate Accounting II
    • Intermediate Accounting III
    • Cost Accounting I
    • Cost Accounting II
    • Consolidation Accounting
    • Auditing I
    • Federal Taxation I
    • Federal Taxation II
    • Applied Business Law
    • Business Law I
    • Business Law II
    • Business Law for Accountants
    • Tax Accounting
    • Workplace Relationships
    • Introduction to Business
    • Workplace Continuity and Contingency Planning
    • Applied Spreadsheets
    • Introduction to Finance
    • Financial Statement Analysis
    • Principles of Management
    • Financing Organizations
    • The Effective Organization
    • Operations Management
    • Business Economics
    • Business Strategy
    • Information Systems
    • Principles of Marketing
    • Management Accounting
    • Advanced Accounting
    • Business Ethics for Accountants
    • Finance
    • Organizational Behavior

    General elective courses (at least 20 credit hours):

    Social Science

    • Introduction to Psychology
    • American Government
    • Macroeconomics
    • Microeconomics
    • Essentials of Sociology
    • Composition I
    • Composition II
    • General Psychology
    • Introduction to Writing
    • Introduction to Professional Writing
    • Workplace Learning in Writing
    • Introduction to News Writing
    • Composition and Literature
    • Standard English Grammar
    • Advanced Research Writing
    • Advanced Technical Writing
    • Advanced Business Writing

    Fine Arts & Humanities

    • World Civilizations I
    • World Civilizations II
    • Music Appreciation
    • Introduction to American Literature
    • Technological Transformations
    • Introduction to Humanities
    • Introduction to African American Studies
    • Introduction to Criminal Justice
    • Introduction to Criminology
    • Juvenile Delinquency
    • Victimology
    • Psychology of Criminal Behavior
    • Introduction to Women’s Studies: Women and Society
    • Principles of Macroeconomics
    • Technology in Contemporary Society

     Math & Computer Science

    • College Mathematics
    • Business Analysis
    • Finite Mathematics
    • College Algebra
    • Concepts and Applications of Information Technology
    • Digital Media and Society
    • Accounting Information Systems
    • Information Systems in Organizations

    Science

    • Elements of Chemistry
    • Basic Biology
    • Introduction to Ecology
    • Nutrition
    • Introduction to Physical Science

     Specialty core courses (only available at certain programs):

    Forensic accounting / Auditing:

    • Intermediate Accounting III
    • Auditing
    • Advanced Accounting
    • Advanced Forensic Accounting

    Managerial Accounting

    • Intermediate Accounting III
    • Auditing
    • Cost Accounting
    • Financial Statement Analysis

    Public Accounting

    • Intermediate Accounting III
    • Auditing
    • Advanced Tax / Corporate
    • Advanced Forensic Accounting

    Tax Accounting

    • Intermediate Accounting III
    • Auditing
    • Advanced Tax / Corporate
    • Advanced Accounting

    The average cost of a Bachelors in an Accounting Degree Program ranges from about $33, 000 -$70, 000

    When deciding which college or university you will attend it’s agood idea to talk with some of them and ask for information.

    Click the button below to get free info about accredited Bachelor’s Degree programs near you
    Find a School

    Step 3: Get an Accounting Graduate Degree 10 months to 5 years

    Master’s Degree in Accounting 10 months to 24 months

    Master’s Degree in accounting are 30 to 40 semester hour programs. They will make you more marketable and employable, and will help you prepare for the CPA exam. They can be completed either full time or part time.

    A master’s Degree in accounting is a prestigious degree that will help you advance further in your accounting career. While the requirements to get accepted vary from school to school, more often than not you will need to have:

    • An accounting or a business related bachelor’s degree
    • 2 recommendation letters
    • GMAT with a score over 640 taken in the last 5 years
    • A professional resume
    • Personal statement

    A typical master’s degree program curriculum will have courses like:

     Required courses:

    • Intermediate Accounting I
    • Intermediate Accounting II
    • Cost Accounting

    Business Core Courses:

    • Business Ethics for Accountants and Auditors
    • Business Communications for Accountants and Auditors
    • Managerial Accounting
    • Business Economics
    • Leadership and Human Resource Management for Accountants and Auditors

     Accounting Core Courses:

    • Federal Taxes
    • Internal Auditing I: Conceptual and Institutional Framework
    • Forensic Accounting
    • Financial Statement Analysis
    • Tax Research

    Elective courses:

    • Advanced Managerial Accounting and Control Systems
    • Advanced Financial Accounting
    • International Accounting
    • Governmental & Nonprofit Accounting
    • Database Accounting Systems
    •  Internal Auditing II: Internal Audit Application and Practice
    • Information Security, Audit and Control
    • State, Local, and International Tax
    • Essentials of Negotiation
    • Accounting Thoughts and Paradigms
    • Advanced Forensic Accounting
    • Accounting Research – Methodology and Communication
    • Entrepreneurship Law
    • Fraud Examination
    • Issues in Financial Reporting

    The average cost of a Master’s Degree in Accounting Program ranges from about $30, 000 -$65,000

    When deciding which college or university you will attend it’s agood idea to talk with some of them and ask for information.

    Click the button below to get free info about accredited Master’s Degree programs near you
    Find a School

    Doctorate Degree in Accounting 3 years to 5 years

    PhD’s in accounting are 70 to 80 semester hour programs that are usually completed within 4 to 5 years. This is the best degree you can acquire in accounting and it is mandatory if you want to follow an academic career. Only the top universities offer these programs so it can be difficult to get accepted. The official requirements are much different than a master’s degree, but in reality due to high competition you will need a lot more:

    Official Requirements:

    • An accounting or a business related bachelor’s degree
    • 3 recommendation letters
    • GMAT with a score over 640 taken in the last 5 years
    • A professional resume
    • Personal statement

    Things that will help you get accepted:

    • Excellent Grades (A- plus)
    • A Business related master’s Degree
    • Published papers
    • Evidence of research (participated at a research project)
    • Recommendation letters from faculty members
    • Excellent statement of purpose

    The first two years you will learn the fundamental knowledge that will be applied later on the program when you do research or teach. In order to study accounting in depth and be able to do research, you will have to complete courses that are the foundation of accounting like math, finance, statistics, economics and econometrics. You will also be expected to publish one paper per year during these two years.

    You will have courses like:

    Math / Statistics

    • Linear Algebra and Matrix Theory
    • Functions of a Real Variable
    • Probabilistic Analysis
    • Theory of Probability
    • Linear and Nonlinear Optimization
    • Introduction to Statistical Inference

    Economics

    • Core Economics I
    • Core Economics II
    • Core Economics III
    • Microeconomic Analysis I
    • Microeconomic Analysis II
    • Auctions, Bargaining, Pricing

    Finance

    • Financial Markets I
    • Financial Markets II
    • Corporate Finance Theory

    Econometrics

    • Econometric Methods I
    • Econometric Methods II
    • Econometric Methods III
    • Quantitative Methods for Empirical Research

    Accounting

    • Financial Reporting and Management Control
    • Seminar in Empirical Accounting Research
    • Applications of Information Economics in Management and Accounting
    • Financial Reporting Seminar
    • Selected Topics in Accounting Research
    • Managerial Incentives and Corporate Governance

    The last two to three years you will receive more practical training by doing research, or helping professors with teaching. During these years you will also publish papers and travel across the country and abroad to attend seminars and lectures. At the end you will have to do a thesis that will be based on the research you have done over the past years.

    The majority of universities offer internships and stipends to PhD students, so there is no cost.

    Step 4 : Get an Accounting Certification

    While you will specialize when doing an accounting degree by choosing your elective courses, taking a certification will help you specialize further and get a certification.

     (CPA) Certified Public Accountant

    Organization: American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

    This is the most common certification amongst accountants. It is the most commonly required certification from employers. It’s highly recommended to achieve even if you plan to get another qualification later.

    Requirements: While the requirements vary from state to state. There are some common requirements amongst all states.

    150 hours of post-secondary education. Meaning that you should get a bachelors (usually 120 hours) and a master’s (usually 30 hours) degree. The majority of state boards require within these 150 hours of post-secondary education a certain number of credits in accounting and business law courses. So it is recommended to take both your bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting.

    Examination: The CPA is a 14 hour examination test divided into four sections.

    1. Auditing and Attestation

    Four hour examination with 90 multiple choice questions and 7 Task Based Simulations

    2. Business Environment and Concepts

    Three hour examination with 72 multiple choice questions and 3 written communication tests

    3. Financial Accounting and Reporting

    Four hour examination with 90 multiple choice questions and 7 Task Based Simulations

    4.Regulation

    Three hour examination with 72 multiple choice questions and 6 Task Based Simulations

    Cost: About $1000 (will vary from state to state)

    (CFM) Certified Financial Manager, (CMA) Certified Management Accountant

    Organization:  Institute of Management Accountants

    Requirements:  The requirements and the costs are the same between the 2 certifications.

    • Institute of Management Accountants Membership
    • Bachelor’s degree from accredited university or college
    • 2 Years of continuous working experience in financial management or management accounting
    • Enter the CMA program
    • Pass the first 2 parts of CMA exam

    Cost: $1820

    (CIA) Certified Internal Auditor

    Organization: The Institute of Internal Auditors

    Requirements:

    • Three or four year post-secondary education, or
    • Two year post-secondary education and five years of working experience in internal audit, or
    • Seven years of working experience in internal audit

    Cost: $1150

    (CGFM) Certified Government Financial Manager

    Organization: Association of Government Accountants

    Requirements: Bachelor’s degree from accredited university or college

    Cost $85

     (EA) Enroll Agent

    Organization: IRS

    Requirements:

    • Obtain a (PTIN) Preparer Tax Identification Number
    • Take the test at (SEE) Special Enrollment Examination web page
    • Pass the SEE test
    • Pass tax compliance test

    Cost: $109

    (CFP) Certified Financial Planner

    Organization: CFP Board

    Requirements:

    • Bachelor’s degree from accredited university or college
    • Complete CFP Coursework

    Examination:

    CFP is a computer based exam. It is a five day test with 170 multiple choice questions

    Cost: $595

    How Long Does it take to Become an Accuntant and How Much it Costs?

    Option 1 Certificate Program

    DegreeTime Cost
    Certificate (offline-online)7 months – 12 months$3,000 - $10, 000
    Total7 months – 12 months$3,000 - $10, 000

    Option 2 Associate’s Degree

    DegreeTime Cost
    Associates Degree (online- offline)2 years$3,000 to $33,000
    Total2 years$3,000 to $33,000
    Degree Time Cost
    Associates Degree (online-offline)2 years$3,000 to $33,000
    Certification 1 month - 1 year$109 - $1,820
    Total 2 years & i month - 3 years$3,109 - $34,820

    Option 3 Bachelor’s Degree

    DegreeTime Cost
    Bachelor’s 4 years$33, 000 -$70, 000
    Total4 years$33, 000 -$70, 000
    Degree Time Cost
    Bachelor’s 4 years$33,000 to $70,000
    Certification 1 month - 1 year$109 - $1,820
    Total 4 years & 1 month - 5 years$33,109 - $71,820
    Degree Time Cost
    Bachelor’s 4 years$33,000 to $70,000
    Master’s 1 year$30, 000 -$65,000
    Total 5 years$63,000 - $135,000
    DegreeTime Cost
    Bachelor’s 4 years$33,000 to $70,000
    Master’s 1 year$30, 000 -$65,000
    Certification1 month - 1 year$109 - $1,820
    Total5 years & 1 month to 6 years$63,109 - $136,820
    Degree Time Cost
    Bachelor’s 4 years$33,000 to $70,000
    Doctorate3 years - 5 years-
    Total 7 month - 9 years$33,000 - $70,000
    DegreeTime Cost
    Bachelor’s 4 years$33, 000 -$70, 000
    Master’s 1 year$30, 000 -$65,000
    Doctorate3 years to 5 years-
    Total5 years & i month to 6 years$63,000 - $135,000
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