They say that money makes the world go round and it's very, very true. And the closer look we can take at how money is flowing in and out of our lives and businesses every day, the better understanding we have of the world around us. The real trick to understanding accounting lies in knowing that numbers are just like words: once we learn to read the correctly, they can tell us very interesting stories.
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Of course, the opposite is also true: ineffective recording of money leads to a misreading of the story, potentially leading to very serious errors. This is true for households as much as it is for small and large businesses. If you're the type of person who can read the story behind the numbers and you see yourself taking on a career counting the dollars flowing, like a stream, into and out of people's pockets, then you're the right person for acquiring your Associate's Degree in Accounting.
For some, looking at charts and graphs of accounting statements, making records, and interpreting the stories that this data exposes is dull. And that's what makes you so valuable to an incredible array of organizations. Accountants are in many aspects the most important components of all businesses; if a business is meant to make more revenue than expenses, someone needs to know exactly where the money is coming from and going. This means that every organization that handles money whether a business, a non-profit, a governmental institute, or one's personal finances all require an accounting expert. That's where you come in.
One of the most common areas accountants are employed in with accounting firms, which are businesses that specialize in hiring accountants and sending them to specific organizations to handle that organizations accounting needs. If you're working for a firm, you'll work with a team of accountants and resources along your side, processing payroll, managing accounts, producing reports, and generally handling the monetary requirements of the organization outsourcing work to you.
Other accountants are hired directly by businesses to handle their accounts on a full time basis. This is normally for larger businesses that have enough sources of revenue and expenditures and would require constant attention. Here, too, accountants generally work as part of a team that can work together to service their employer.
One of the tasks accountants are best known for is preparing taxes. Not only will they prepare tax documents for one company or set of businesses who hire them, but many accountants open their own practices and complete tax return forms for any client willing to hire them. Since every single taxpaying citizen is required to complete these documents, this annually opens up a broad range of prospective clients. Finally, those with experience and knowledge in accounting will also qualify to teach others what they know. Becoming a teacher at a school or university is yet another way to successfully employ your accountant talents.
Since money makes the world go round, and since accountants handle money better than anyone else, it could be argue that accountants in fact make the world go round. With every new business and every new taxpayer comes one more potential individual who wants to hire your services through your own business or your firm. When you earn your Associate's Degree in accounting, you're earning your place on the team that continually makes the world go round. So learn the mathematics, learn the algorithms, learn the charts and record keeping the will empower you to master reading the story behind the numbers, which in turn empowers others to continue their pursuit of their dream.
In order to get the most out of your education it is essential that you find the best school. Referrals from a friend are sometimes the most reliable way of find a school but what if you don’t know anyone that has their Associate’s Degree in Accounting? Below are some of the top things we recommend when researching an accounting school.
Accreditation – It isn’t necessary to find a school that is specifically accredited by an accounting accrediting agency however we do recommend a school that is either regionally or nationally accredited. This will allow you to easier transfer credits in as well as to other school if you choose to. Once you receive your AA degree you might be interested in continuing with your education and taking your program from an accredited institution will allow you
Credit Hours Required – For most Associate’s Degrees you’ll need a total of 60 credit hours of education. Most schools range from $10,000 to $18,000 for the degree or $125-450 per credit hour. Remember if you have taken accounting classes at another school or have other general education classes you have completed be sure to let your guidance counselor know this to see if any of them qualify for transferability.
Blended Curriculum –We are seeing more colleges go to what they call a blended curriculum. This is where you take some of your program online and some at the campus. Of course if the school you are considering doesn’t have a campus close to you then you can always opt for a 100% online program. Do a quick search on this page to see if any of the school have something close to your home or current work.
Career Focused –One thing to look for before you enroll in any accounting program is to first know what type of accountant you would like to be before enrolling. This is important as some of the programs focus on certain types of accounting principles including: Budget Analyst, Accounts Payable, Controllers, Financial Planning, Risk Management, Strategic Accounting, Managerial or Financial Accounting.
Different Types of Accounting Careers
The accounting industry is a pretty wide field meaning that you have a lot of career options once you receive the proper training. It is always recommended you continue with your education as the more you have the more you’ll stand out while applying for any of the accounting careers.
Financial Accountant – In this career you’ll work with business owners and even corporations to produce their financial statements. Using generally accepted accounting principles or GAAP which is industry standard. Can be used for selling of company or if company is public (stock requirements).
Managerial Accounting – As a managerial accountant you’ll focus mainly on management, budgeting and forecasting for internal purposes only. These forecasts help managers and business owners make important decisions. Often you’ll work in an accounting department or part of a team of accountants.
Government Accounting – The only difference between this and a financial or managerial is your duties will for a state or government entity. This would be a government funded business or doing accounting for an actual city or state. Typically more advanced degrees are needed but you’ll need to start with your Associate’s degree.
Tax Accountants – These accountants are used by private and public companies as well as for personal income tax purposes. They use the same rules but could focus on a particular sector (oil, land, corporate or even small business. You might focus just on personal income tax and work for a large corporation that only focuses on personal or corporate tax accounts.
Forensic Accounting – You can work for the government or private firms to look into fraud, disputes or other legal issues.
Consulting – a growing career involves being an accounting consultant. In this career you’ll be responsible for actually developing an accounting system for a business. You can be involved in the actual system selection as well as the hiring process for full-time accountants.
American Institute of CPA’s
National Association of State Boards of Accountancy