Associate in Accounting Program Guide

April 1, 2021

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In the coming years, the accounting and auditing profession should grow as the economy recovers from the recent recession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 125,700 new job openings for accountants and auditors each year until 2029.

With an associate degree in accounting, students can pursue entry-level positions, such as bookkeeping or financial clerk. Although most accountant and auditor roles require a bachelor's degree, earning an associate degree in accounting can be an excellent way to build an academic foundation and prepare for further study.

Should I Get an Associate in Accounting?

Accounting is an attractive career option for students with strong problem-solving skills who enjoy working with numbers.

Accounting is an attractive career option for students with strong problem-solving skills who enjoy working with numbers. In 2019, the BLS reported that the median pay for accountants and auditors was $71,550 a year. The BLS projects the employment of accountants and auditors will grow by 4% between 2019 and 2029, which matches the average projected rate for all other professions in the U.S.

However, the BLS projects a 6% decline in bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerk roles over that same period as automation increases. And job growth for financial clerks is projected to stagnate from 2019-2029. If associate degree-holders struggle to find employment, they may want to consider returning to school and earning a bachelor's.

Associate degree requirements and completion times vary by program; however, full-time students enrolled in an associate in accounting program can expect to complete their studies in two years. Some schools may offer accelerated programs, allowing students to earn their degrees in less time.

Additionally, some students choose to pursue an online associate degree in accounting. Online programs typically offer greater flexibility than on-campus programs and may be a good option for working professionals seeking to enroll in classes part time.

In addition to preparing graduates for entry-level clerical roles, earning an associate degree in accounting can be an excellent way to ready yourself for further study. Most accountant and auditor roles require at least a bachelor's degree, and many professionals earn additional certifications, such as the certified public accountant license. If you plan to continue your education after earning your associate degree in accounting, choose a program that will allow you to transfer credits toward a bachelor's degree.

What Will I Learn in an Accounting Associate Program?

Students working toward an associate degree in accounting take courses in economics, finance, and business management. Curricula vary by program, but common classes may include principles of accounting, spreadsheet software, and principles of management.

Students can earn an associate of arts (AA) degree, an associate of science (AS) degree, or an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in accounting. The core curriculum of an AA pathway may include more liberal arts courses, while an AS degree program likely features more math and science classes. An AAS degree is a good choice for students who plan to enter the workforce immediately after they finish coursework.

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What Can I Do With an Associate in Accounting?

With an associate degree in accounting, students can pursue work as bookkeeping, accounting, auditing, or financial clerks. Students who earn an associate degree in accounting sometimes qualify for junior accounting roles, though most of these positions require a BA.

Professionals who earn an online associate in accounting can work in many different settings, including accounting firms, government agencies, and private businesses. The largest employers of bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks in 2019 were professional, scientific, and services services. Additionally, common employers of financial clerks are insurance providers and healthcare and social assistance agencies.

Most accounting professionals have full-time jobs. They may be required to work longer hours than usual during tax season or as the end of the fiscal year approaches.

Popular Career Paths

Accounting Business Administration Finance Economics

Popular Continued Education Paths

Bachelor's in Accounting Bachelor's in Business Management Bachelor's in Forensic Accounting Master's in Accounting Master's in Forensic Accounting

How Much Money Can I Make With an Associate in Accounting?

PayScale reports that workers with an AS in accounting earn an average salary of about $53,610 a year. According to the BLS, the median wage for financial clerks was $40,540 a year in 2019. Additionally, bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks earned a median salary of $41,230.

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Accounting Programs

What is accounting?

Accounting involves the preparation, management, and analysis of financial records. Accounting professionals ensure the accuracy of financial records, prepare and file tax returns, and promote best practices in bookkeeping.

How long does it take to get a degree in accounting?

Most full-time students can earn their associate degree in accounting in two years. Some schools offer accelerated programs, allowing students to complete their studies in less time.

How much does it cost to get an associate in accounting?

The total tuition for an online associate in accounting program typically ranges from $6,000-$23,000. Online programs may be more affordable than attending classes on campus, although this isn't always the case. Students should carefully assess the true cost of earning their degree online versus enrolling in an on-campus program.

Are accountants in demand?

The BLS projects accounting and auditing jobs to increase by 4% between 2019 and 2029, although the demand for many entry-level roles in the field, including bookkeeping clerk, is projected to decrease in the coming years.

What jobs can you get with an associate in accounting?

With an associate degree in accounting, job-seekers can enter the workforce as financial, bookkeeping, accounting, or auditing clerks. They may also be eligible for some junior accountant roles, but most accountant and auditor positions require a BA or higher.

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