Associate Degree in Accounting

An associate’s degree in accounting is a great first step to building an accounting career. Associates degrees typically take two years of full time coursework to complete, although many schools offer both accelerated and longer term courses of study to accommodate students’ needs. An associate’s degree in accounting will not satisfy the requirements for becoming a CPA in most states, but it does lay the groundwork for further study and gaining entry level work experience. The most common type of associate’s degree in accounting is the Associate of Science (AS) in Accounting degree.

Reasons for Earning an Associate’s Degree in Accounting

An associate’s degree in accounting takes less time to complete than a four year program of study, but the credit hours earned pursuing an associate’s degree are usually eligible for transfer to a higher level degree program at a later time. Earning an associate’s degree in accounting can also help students earn a place in more competitive bachelor’s degree programs. Overall, an associate’s degree in this field prepares students to start an entry level accounting career, while leaving the door open to further education and career options.

Admissions Requirements for Associate’s Degree Programs

Most associate’s degree programs require students to have obtained a high school diploma, GED, or the international equivalent with a GPA of 2.0 or better. Many schools expect students to have successfully completed high school courses in algebra, although students who did not take higher level math courses in high school may be able to meet this requirement by taking math courses while enrolled in an associates program. Students who earn high scores on the ACT or SAT may gain an advantage in applying to more competitive programs.

Coursework for Associate’s in Accounting Programs

The Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs recommends that business schools offering associate’s degrees in accounting maintain high standards in order to prepare students for further study and career advancement. An associate’s degree program might also include an internship or other work experience opportunities. Recommended coursework for most associates in accounting programs includes:

  • Accounting I & II
  • Bookkeeping
  • Business Ethics
  • Business Math
  • Economics
  • Introduction to Accounting
  • Introduction to Bookkeeping
  • Introductory Business
  • Statistics

Online Associate’s Degree in Accounting

Online associate’s degrees in accounting are an excellent alternative to traditional associates in accounting programs. Pursuing an online degree can allow students to complete courses more quickly, while offering many of the same resources as traditional classes, such as faculty assistance, when needed. Many students find that pursuing an online degree is a simple way to balance school coursework with other obligations, such as employment.

Career Opportunities for Individuals with an Associate’s in Accounting

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, an associate’s degree can supplement a high school diploma in preparing students for careers as clerks in bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing.1 Positions include bill and account collectors, who negotiate payments at a median salary of $32,480 per year;2 financial clerks, who perform a variety of administrative tasks in banking and finance at a median salary of $34,960 per year;3 and bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, who create, update, and analyze financial records at a median salary of $35,170 per year.1 Many graduates later return to school to pursue a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and may be better prepared to pursue this higher degree thanks to their associate’s education and career experience.

Moreover, such clerking opportunities are expected to grow 11% from 2012-2022 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 In tune with these estimates, the American Institute of CPAs recently found that hiring demand for entry level accounting positions is increasing at the highest rates seen since 1971.4

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/bookkeeping-accounting-and-auditing-clerks.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bill and Account Collectors: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/bill-and-account-collectors.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Financial Clerks: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/financial-clerks.htm
4. American Institute of CPAs: https://www.aicpa.org/InterestAreas/AccountingEducation/NewsAndPublications/DownloadableDocuments/2011TrendsReport.pdf