Best Online Associate in Accounting Programs
An online associate in accounting prepares students for the workforce and four-year accounting programs. Learn what to expect from the best programs in this guide.
Published on April 28, 2021 · Updated on June 20, 2022
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Accounting professionals create financial reports, record business transactions, and prepare tax returns. An associate degree in accounting trains learners in foundational accounting concepts. And online accounting degree programs prioritize flexibility for busy adults seeking a college degree.
Many community colleges offer two-year accounting degrees with flexible hybrid or online formats. Compared with four-year institutions, two-year colleges charge more affordable tuition rates. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in-state students at public two-year colleges paid an average price of about $3,380 per year in tuition and fees in 2019-2020.
An online learning format can save students money. Rather than attending a local college, students can compare schools to find more affordable tuition rates.
An accredited degree from a top online college can launch your career. With an associate degree, graduates enter the workforce as accounting clerks, bookkeepers, and financial clerks. They can also transfer into a bachelor's program to become an accountant or auditor.
What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Accounting Program?
An associate degree in accounting trains students in bookkeeping, financial reporting, and auditing. During an accounting associate degree, learners take courses in financial accounting, public accounting, auditing, and cost accounting. These courses introduce students to the many specialty areas within accounting. They also prepare graduates for entry-level accounting and finance careers.
Many online associate in accounting programs also incorporate foundational business classes. Students explore business administration, finance, and marketing while earning an accounting degree.
Online accounting programs offer the same training as on-campus programs. Instead of attending classes in person, distance learners complete the course requirements in a virtual classroom environment.
Accounting majors need attention to detail and the ability to identify and solve problems. Math and organizational skills also benefit accounting students. In addition, online learners should possess self-motivation and discipline.
Accounting majors typically need 60 credits to earn their associate degree. The curriculum includes general education requirements in addition to accounting and business classes. The general education classes emphasize analytical, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. Full-time students complete an associate degree in two years.
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Popular Online Associate in Accounting Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Accounting Program?
Principles of Accounting
Introductory classes cover basic accounting procedures. Students learn about the uses of accounting in business and government. They also examine business transaction monitoring, bookkeeping, and financial document creation.
In this course, learners explore core accounting concepts and the financial accounting process. They learn how to create financial statements, analyze financial records, and follow accounting regulations. Many programs incorporate several semesters of financial accounting classes.
Managers use financial documents to plan and make decisions. This course trains students in managerial accounting, including topics like budgeting, cost-benefit analysis, and performance evaluation. Students learn how to create financial documents for business decision-making.
The course covers income tax preparation for individuals and businesses. Topics include federal taxation policies, income tax deductions, capital gains taxes, and preparation methods. Learners also explore auditing methods.
In this course, students learn cost accounting methods, including product costing, cost-volume-profit analysis, and cost management. The class trains learners in cost management, budgeting, and cost planning.
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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Accounting Program?
Prospective accounting majors need to meet admission requirements to enroll in these programs. Most two-year colleges admit applicants with a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED credential. Applicants typically do not need to submit standardized test scores, although students who take the SAT or ACT can choose to provide their results.
Some schools ask for additional application materials like an essay or personal statement. Schools with essay requirements generally ask applicants to explain their reasons for pursuing a college degree or their goals after completing the program. A small number of schools ask for letters of recommendation. Teachers, professors, coaches, mentors, and supervisors all make good candidates for recommendation letter writers.
Applicants can also ask about transfer credit policies and credit for life or work experience.
What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Accounting Degree?
Earning an online associate in accounting degree from an accredited school can prepare graduates for many career paths. The degree can allow graduates to become bookkeepers, financial clerks, or accounting clerks. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these professionals reported a median annual salary of $45,560 in 2021.
The degree also leads to opportunities in diverse fields like business, financial services, insurance, and sales. Graduates can work in administrative and customer service roles or take on sales associate responsibilities.
The degree also offers a strong launch point for higher-earning careers. After earning an associate degree, students can transfer into a bachelor's program to expand their career opportunities and salary potential.
An associate in accounting degree can start your career.Learn More About Accounting Careers
Bookkeepers keep and maintain financial records for organizations. They record transactions and track costs versus credits. Bookkeepers manage the general ledger and create financial statements or reports based on the business's transactions. They also prepare bank deposits, check receipts, and send payments. Some bookkeepers specialize in payroll, purchasing, or invoicing.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $45,560
Financial clerks perform administrative tasks, including financial record keeping. They may assist customers by calculating bills, provide support or assistance for financial transactions, and process transactions. Financial clerks work in many different organizations, where they specialize in payroll, billing, loans, and procurement.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $44,760
Accounting clerks manage financial transactions and oversee invoicing and tracking procedures. Also known as accounts payable clerks and accounts receivable clerks, they calculate interest charges, monitor payments on accounts, and balance billing documents. Accounting clerks also make sure account information is complete and accurate.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $45,560
Account collectors contact customers to process overdue bills. They identify people with overdue payments and help them create repayment plans. Also called bill collectors, account collectors need to understand the terms of the bill and recommend solutions like debt counseling for people who cannot pay their bills.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $37,700
Administrative assistants provide clerical support for professionals in many fields, including accounting and finance. They organize meetings, file documents, and prepare invoices. Administrative assistants may also maintain filing systems, perform bookkeeping tasks, and manage financial records. Executive assistants and legal assistants report above-average salaries for the field.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $39,680
Accounting Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.
With an associate in accounting, professionals work as clerks, bookkeepers, and administrative assistants. However, many accounting careers, including jobs like financial accountant, managerial accountant, and auditor, require a bachelor's degree.
After earning an associate degree, graduates can transfer into a four-year program to complete a bachelor's in accounting. Many top-ranked colleges offer online bachelor's in accounting programs for students who prefer a distance-learning format. With a bachelor's degree, accountants increase their earning potential and job opportunities. Accountants and auditors reported a median annual salary of $77,250 in May 2021, according to the BLS.
Accountants can also pursue certifications or licenses to increase their earning potential. The CPA license, for example, allows accountants to work as certified public accountants.
How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Accounting Program?
Associate programs typically offer the most affordable tuition rates. According to the NCES, students pay an average of about $3,380 per year in tuition and fees at 2-year public institutions. Online programs may offer tuition discounts compared with on-campus programs. Prospective applicants should consider the total program cost, including technology fees and foregone income, when comparing schools.
Online programs offer several enrollment options. Degree-seekers can attend part time or full time. Some programs offer an accelerated option. The class format may be synchronous or asynchronous. Asynchronous classes do not require set class meeting times, which may appeal to working students and those with busy schedules.
Some online accounting programs include in-person requirements. In these hybrid programs, students benefit from choosing a school in their local area. In fully online programs, location matters less, but programs may still have in-person orientation or practicum requirements. Before applying to programs, consider the benefits and drawbacks of online versus on-campus learning.
Accounting majors should always choose an accredited college. Accredited schools meet high standards for academic excellence and student learning outcomes. In addition, only accredited institutions meet the federal requirements to distribute federal financial aid programs to students. Credits and degrees from an accredited school will also more likely transfer to four-year institutions.
The best online colleges provide strong student support services. These services include academic advising, online tutoring, and financial aid advising. Distance learners also benefit from mentorship opportunities and internship programs. Check what kinds of support services each college offers when making your decision.
Best Accredited Online Associate in Accounting Programs
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Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Accounting Programs
An associate degree in accounting can pay off. Students can earn an associate degree for less than $7,000 in tuition and fees. And many entry-level careers with an associate in accounting pay significantly more than the cost of the degree.
For example, bookkeepers and accounting clerks reported a median annual salary of $45,560 in May 2021, according to the BLS. After an associate degree, graduates can transfer to a four-year institution to earn a bachelor's degree and increase their earning potential. Students may also wonder whether an online degree pays off. Online programs at accredited schools meet the same high academic standards as in-person programs.
Typically, students spend two years earning an associate degree in accounting online. Most programs require a minimum of 60 credits, and full-time students generally complete 30 credits per year. Transfer students can earn their degrees in less time. For example, students with 15 or more transfer credits can complete their associate degree in less than 18 months.
Some programs also offer accelerated courses, including shorter terms and more terms per year. Instead of taking classes exclusively in the fall and summer semesters, some online colleges offer up to six terms per year.
The best online colleges hold accreditation from independent, nonprofit accrediting agencies. These accrediting agencies review schools and assess their curriculum materials, student learning outcomes, and faculty qualifications. Only schools that meet the highest standards earn institutional and programmatic accreditation.
An online associate degree from an accredited institution undergoes the same rigorous review as on-campus programs. At many schools, online and on-campus programs use the same class materials and set the same graduation requirements. Students concerned about the credibility of an online degree should always check the school's accreditation status and learn how to identify diploma mills and other scams.
Your earning potential with an associate in accounting depends on your career path. Many graduates work as bookkeepers, accounting clerks, and auditing clerks. In these roles, they assist accountants and create financial documents. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $45,560 in May 2021, according to the BLS.
Professionals with an associate degree can increase their earning potential by transferring into a bachelor's program. With a bachelor's in accounting, graduates work as accountants and auditors. These professionals earned a median salary of $77,250 per year in May 2021, according to the BLS. Salaries vary depending on industry, experience, and location.
The accounting field reports strong demand for professionals with finance and accounting training. The BLS projects the addition of 96,000 accounting and auditing jobs between 2020-2030. Currently, over 1.6 million people work as accounting clerks or bookkeepers, but these fields will likely contract in the next decade, according to BLS projections.
In accounting, as in many other fields, additional education means a higher earning potential and more jobs. As a result, students considering an associate degree should research the process to transfer into a bachelor's program to continue their education.
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