A certificate in accounting allows students to earn an education supplemental to previous experience or accounting study. There are many certificate programs available, ranging from entry level certificates to post-baccalaureate certificates in accounting. However, the majority of accounting certificates are awarded to students who have graduated from high school or have an associate’s degree in accounting but are not yet ready to pursue a four-year degree.
Reasons for Earning a Certificate in Accounting
A certificate in accounting can be earned in far less time than it takes to earn an accounting degree, which fast-tracks students’ ability to start a career. Certificates in accounting can make candidates more attractive to employers in a competitive job market, and serve as supplemental education for pursuing higher levels of study. Earning a certificate in accounting can also provide the type of certification employers look for in specialist areas of accounting, like forensic accounting – a field that is expected to provide plentiful opportunities for career growth.1 For those already practicing as accountants or CPAs, certain courses taken in pursuit of an accounting certificate may also qualify as CPE credits.2
Admissions Requirements for Certificate Programs
Depending on the school awarding the certificate and the level of study a certificate requires, admission to a certificate program typically requires either a high school diploma or GED. Accounting certificates offered by accredited schools may also require the student to meet standard admissions requirements for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. More advanced programs may require a combination of work experience and completion of or study towards an associate’s degree in accounting. Credit for previous education or experience may be transferrable towards the core courses in an accounting certificate program.
Coursework for Certificate in Accounting Programs
A certificate in accounting is awarded to students who demonstrate mastery of basic concepts in accounting. Specialist certificates are also available that concentrate on specific areas of accounting, such as corporate accounting. Depending on the certificate sought, a certificate can be earned in as few as 12 weeks, though more in-depth courses of study may take significantly longer. Depending on the certificate sought, coursework for a certificate typically includes:
- Financial Accounting
- Cost Accounting
- Business Law
Online Certificate in Accounting
As a certificate in accounting usually requires less coursework than an associate’s degree in accounting, pursuing a certificate in accounting online is a simple way to earn additional qualifications in support of a career in accounting. Since many students pursuing a certificate in accounting will already be familiar with basic accounting principles, online study can be a streamlined way to earn a certificate quickly. Online study provides great flexibility for those already working in accounting or a related field. Online certificates in accounting can also provide a cost savings over more traditional programs.
Career Opportunities for Individuals with a Certificate in Accounting
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that average salaries can range from $34,030 per year for accounting clerks to more than $106,880 per year for the top 10% of accountants and auditors.3,4 Depending on the certificate program graduates can be prepared for entry-level accounting positions, auditing jobs at accounting firms, or corporate accounting positions.
1. Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE): http://www.acfe.com/career-path-forensic-accountant.aspx
2. Accounting Web: https://www.accountingweb.com/practice/team/five-steps-to-meeting-your-cpe-requirements
3. US Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/bookkeeping-accounting-and-auditing-clerks.htm
4. US Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Business-and-Financial/Accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-5