Associate’s degree in accounting program information
Strong math skills, attention to detail, and an interest in how the financial world works. If this sounds like you, perhaps the your ideal career path is the field of accounting.
The current economic situation, globalization, and a complex business environment have led to an increase in demand for accounting professionals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for accountants and auditors are projected to grow by 7% between 2020 and 2030.
The most common route into the accounting field is to earn a degree. If the cost and time commitment of a bachelor’s is a concern, other options are available. An associate’s in accounting takes just 2 years to complete, and can greatly improve your chances of entering this stable and well-compensated field.
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Associate’s in accountancy program basics
An associate’s in accountancy provides a foundation in accounting, math and business principles. It not only demonstrates to employers that you are committed to the field, but also equips graduates with the skills required for many entry-level positions. Better still, it is usually possible to transfer the credits earned on this program to a bachelor’s degree.
What can you do with an associate’s in accountancy?
With an associate’s degree in accounting you can qualify for entry-level roles, like bookkeeper, payroll administrator, or accounting clerk. Starting in these positions and working your way up may involve further education. Typically, progressing up the ranks requires on-the-job training, as well as building on your knowledge with a bachelor’s program in accountancy.
Should you get an associate’s in accounting?
Accountancy may not be the most glamorous of professions, but it is the perfect position for detail-orientated individuals blessed with an investigative nature. If you enjoy solving puzzles, math, and evaluating information, an associate’s in accounting can be an excellent career choice.
Generally speaking, accounting jobs tend to provide a stable source of income. Below is a short-term comparison between the entire bachelor’s degree market and an associate’s in accountancy degree. It is based on earnings 2 years after graduation.
Associate’s in accounting
The above table provides a snapshot of earnings 3 years after graduation. We compare the earnings of all bachelor degree recipients to those who graduated from this specific program.
In terms of earnings, the short-term picture is quite positive. The median earnings are in line with the market average. Note that an associate degree qualifies candidates for entry-level positions, and that earnings may go up significantly after the first 2 years, due to further training and qualifications. For comparison, 2 years after graduation a holder of a bachelor’s degree in accountancy can expect to earn $47,520. These numbers may help you to make a decision in terms of what degree level to take.
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How to pick an associate’s degree in accountancy
An important factor is whether the program and school is accredited, because this ensures the degree meets national academic standards. Most programs display the accreditation on their website. If you are unsure, you can always ask. Official bodies include the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
Employers like to know potential staff have graduated from an accredited program, because it ensures they have the necessary skills and training. Choosing an unaccredited associate’s may lead to issues if you decide to transfer to a bachelor’s program.
Another factor to consider is the coursework. Most reputable programs include courses in general education, business, economics and math, as well as accounting.
If your dream is to proceed to a bachelor’s program and then become a Certified Public Account, it is advisable to check how much of the associate program is focused on this track.
Can I get my associate’s in accountancy online?
If you are already working full time, attending daily classes on campus can be a challenge. Fortunately, many institutions offer online or hybrid associate degree programs. Hybrid courses include both face-to-face and online classes.
Choosing an online accounting program is a good alternative if your schedule does not allow you to attend courses on campus regularly. You can study remotely and receive academic support via email, phone, or web portals.
An associate’s in accountancy is offered online, on average, more frequently than the market-wide average.
Associate’s in accounting
The above table shows the percentage of programs available either completely in person or fully online. Figures that do not add up to 100% indicate the existence of hybrid programs.
This is a good degree to get online as classes tend to be theoretical. Once students know the theory they do not need classmates to practice it. Most accounting activities can be completed alone, and this applies to practicing these skills, too. The statistics show that 2 years after the degree, graduates of online programs earn slightly more ($32,547) than those who studied on campus ($29,642).
How much does an associate’s in accountancy cost
See above how cost and earnings vary depending on the type of institution. Payback refers to how many years it takes students to cover the median costs while earning the median salary. Payback is calculated by subtracting the median earnings of a high school graduate from the median earnings related to this degree.
The cost of an associate’s at a private institution is more than double that of a for-profit, and over 4 times as expensive as a public college. The payback period for private colleges is also high. There is not a huge difference in conferral rates at the different types of institutions. The median conferral rate at public colleges is 11, at private 4, and for-profit 5.
Financial aid and scholarships for accountancy majors
Although an associate’s is less expensive than a 4-year degree, the cost can still be daunting. That’s why it is so important to research available funding options. The most common route to financial aid is completing the FAFSA form on the Federal Student Aid website. They then inform you of the type of federal aid you are eligible for.
There are a number of scholarships available to support your accounting education. Examples include:
- AICPA Foundation Two-Year Transfer Scholarship Award
- AWSCPA Scholarship Award
- NSHSS Foundation Stem Scholarship
As well as external scholarships, be sure to research any scholarships offered by the schools you apply to.
There are 94 scholarships totaling $288,450 in value available specifically for accounting students.Explore more scholarships
What to expect from an associate’s in accountancy program
An associate’s in accountancy aims to present enough knowledge for graduates to enter the accounting field. Some programs require students to participate in an internship. This can be an extremely useful experience, both to get a better understanding of what working in the accountancy field involves, and to create a network.
What are the admission requirements for an associate’s in accountancy?
Most institutions require a high school diploma and/or a successful General Educational Development (GED) test result with a minimum GPA score of 2.0. Some organizations may ask applicants to prove their math knowledge and writing skills before courses start.
How long does it take to get an associate’s in accountancy?
A typical program takes 2 years (4 semesters), or a total of 60 credit hours. Note that those numbers can vary depending on the chosen institution.
Transferring to a bachelor’s degree
Most institutions offering 4-year bachelor’s degree programs allow candidates to enroll using the number of credit hours earned in their associate’s degree. This means they only need to study for a further 2 years to complete a bachelor’s program. Just be sure the associate’s you choose is accredited and transferrable.
What type of courses are there in an associate’s of accounting?
The majority of programs include foundational courses that cover areas such as financial analysis, record keeping, auditing and taxation practices, and business management skills.
Courses on offer tend to include:
teaches the primary principles, practices, and procedures in the field of accounting.
provides a general understanding of standards, processes, and procedures widely used in the accounting profession.
covers the fundamentals of cost accounting, focusing on how it influences financial planning and analysis.
learn the fundamental laws and best practices in economy and their effect on how commercial organizations work.
teaches payroll principles, such as reading and preparing financial statements or balance sheets.
discover taxation principles and the impact of tax laws and regulations on how various organizations function.
provides a foundation in the methods of interpreting an organization’s financial performance.
learn the principles and practices of ethical behavior in business environments.
covers the main information needed on how to record, organize, and interpret various financial information.
teaches how to prevent and identify information security risks, and use modern technology and software systems in accounting.
What type of associate degrees are there in accountancy?
There are 3 main types of associate’s degree in accounting. Which you choose is usually determined by what you want the focus of your studies to be and your career goals.
Associate’s of Arts in accountancy (A.A.)
Courses in this program typically center around general studies, with a focus on social sciences and a wider choice of electives. Credits can be transferred to a bachelor’s course.
Associate’s of Sciences in accountancy (A.S.)
This type of program focuses more on mathematics and science, rather than general courses. Credits can be transferred to a bachelor’s course.
Associate’s of Applied Sciences in accountancy (A.A.S.)
This program only includes courses on accounting topics, such as bookkeeping training, or spreadsheet data processing. The course is more vocational, and in most cases you cannot transfer credits earned towards a B.A. in accounting.
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What careers can I enter with an associate’s in accountancy?
After earning an associate’s degree, many students proceed to a bachelor’s in accounting because they want to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). The CPA is the certification employers tend to request most often when they hire accountants. The CPA exam requires 150 credit hours to complete, 90 more than an associate’s degree, and around 30 more than most bachelor’s programs. That’s why a high number of people choose to earn a master’s in accounting, which is widely considered to be the highest level of education in the field.
Associate of accountancy graduates are eligible for numerous entry-level positions. These include, but are not limited to:
Median salary: 45K US$
Bookkeepers are in charge of the financial records of a business. They record financial transactions, prepare and create financial statements, or track accounts.
Accounts payable clerkMedian salary: 40K US$
Accounts payable clerks perform entry-level accounting processes for commercial organizations, such as creating and keeping financial records and reports.
Payroll administratorMedian salary: 53K US$
Payroll administrators usually work closely with finance and human resource departments. Those in this position perform employee-related activities, such as keeping administrative records, tracking hours, or distributing paychecks.
Accounting assistantMedian salary: 43K US$
Accounting assistants work alongside accountants. They perform general office tasks and bookkeeping activities.
An associate’s in accountancy is a great opportunity to dip your toe into the accountancy field. Graduates are eligible for a number of entry-level positions. They can also choose to progress to further degrees, allowing them to step into more advanced accountancy positions, such as auditor, financial analyst, forensic accountant, or certified public accountant.
Frequently asked questions
Is an associate’s in accounting worth it?
Yes. An associate’s in accountancy can qualify you for a number of entry-level positions in the field. It can also be used to enter a bachelors program because the credits can be transferred.
How much does an associate degree in accounting graduate make?
The average salary of an associate’s in accountancy graduate (2 years after graduation) is $31,773. This increases with on-the-job training and additional education.
What can you do with an associate in accounting?
Graduates of this program can apply for a number of entry-level accountancy positions. These include accounting assistant, payroll administrator, accounts payable clerk, bookkeeper, and more.
How long does an associate degree in accounting take?
Generally speaking, an associate degree in accounting takes 2 years to complete.
Is it better to get an associate or bachelor in accounting?
This depends on your career goals. Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) requires a bachelor’s and a master’s. If that is your aim then it is best to skip the associate’s. If you plan to apply for entry-level positions in the accountancy field, an associate’s could be for you.
American Accounting Association (AAA)
An extensive community of accountants from all walks of life, including the academic field.
National Society of Accountants (NSA)
The mission of the NSA is to help tax and accounting professionals further their knowledge.
American Association of Finance and Accounting (AAFA)
Connects accounting organizations, firms, and professionals throughout the United States.
Association of Chartered Accountants in the United States (ACAUS)
Represents the interests of Associate Chartered Accountants and Chartered Professional Accountants in the United States.