Accounting Certification & Degree Programs

Discover your options for accounting programs

Various accounting programs are available through online schools, and the right one for you depends on your career aspirations. If your goal is to become a certified professional accountant, then you will need to complete a university degree before undertaking additional studies and practical training to obtain your license. You can also study to become an accounting clerk, which is a quicker and easier route to a career in the field.

Become a Certified Accountant

To become a certified accountant, you will have to lay the foundation for a successful career by earning an undergraduate degree. Most future accountants earn a Bachelor's degree in a business- or finance-related field, such as business administration, economics or commerce, but you can get your undergraduate degree in any subject you like. After completing your degree, you will have to enroll in a professional accounting training program.

There are several types of professional accounting designations, including:

  • Certified public accountant (CPA). This is the most common type of professional accounting designation, and if you want to become a personal or corporate accountant, you should plan to complete your CPA. In fact, many specialized accounting designations require that you hold a CPA first.
  • Certified management accountant (CMA). These accountants populate the corporate world, and they specialize in forecasting, control analysis, internal auditing and cost management.
  • Certified internal auditor (CIA). Accountants with this specialization are expert auditors, and despite the name, they offer both internal and external auditing services.

Accounting professionals may also qualify for work as financial managers and financial planners.

Train for an Accounting Career

Accounting Certification & Degree Programs

Many small and mid-sized businesses also employ accounting clerks, who do not have professional designations or degrees, but rather have undertaken practical training and built the skills required to handle day-to-day money management. Examples of these specializations include:

  • Payroll clerks. These accounting clerks manage employee remuneration, including payroll, payment of salaries, holiday pay, and disbursement of employee benefits.
  • Account clerks. These clerks manage accounts payable and accounts receivable, ensuring that all money owed by and to the company is tracked.

Depending on the size of the business, an accounting clerk may also provide general financial management services, tracking revenues and expenses, tax liabilities, and all influx and outlay of capital.

Top 10 Online Accounting Programs

There are many well-regarded online accounting programs available, but these ten are widely considered to be a cut above:

  • Rasmussen College. Rasmussen College's program is geared towards preparing students for their CPA examinations. If you're planning to become a CPA, they offer a focused and affordable program.
  • Liberty University. This Christian school offers low tuition costs and a well-reviewed online accounting program.
  • Northeastern University. Northeastern offers one of the best career services departments in the United States, with some 90% of its graduates obtaining gainful employment upon program completion.
  • Brenau University. Brenau is very highly ranked by the U.S. News and World Report for offering outstanding value to its students. Its excellent online accounting programs are very affordable.
  • University of Minnesota-Crookston. In addition to offering excellent programs, the University of Minnesota-Crookston's online accounting courses have small class sizes and offer plenty of opportunity for individual instruction.
  • Indiana Wesleyan University. If you're a working professional seeking to transition to a career in accounting, Indiana Wesleyan offers one of the top programs available.
  • Colorado State University Global Campus. If you're looking for choice and variety, CSU's Global Campus is second to none. A total of 15 specializations are available.
  • Post University. Post offers a unique accounting program that features one-on-one instruction from its elite faculty.
  • Kaplan University. Kaplan offers a wide variety of online accounting programs, including general, managerial, tax, public, and forensic accounting.
  • Penn State University. Penn State was one of the first traditional schools to offer online programs. Its Bachelor of Science in Business-Accounting program is considered one of the very best available.

If you're interested in completing an accounting program that will greatly enhance your job prospects and accelerate your accounting career, these schools are well worth a look.