Earning any degree takes an investment of time, money, and effort. Thus, it’s essential to ensure your chosen degree aligns with your goals so that you can be confident that your investment will be a worthwhile one.
If you’re considering earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting, keep reading to learn about the benefits of an accounting degree and how you can choose the right program for your unique needs and goals.
Benefits of Earning Your Accounting Degree
1. Increased Career Options
One of the primary reasons individuals choose to earn their bachelor’s degree in accounting is the increased career opportunities that result from doing so. Simply put, many businesses will now only consider job applicants who have earned at least their bachelor’s degree in a related field, especially for critical positions such as those related to finance.
Some of the most common and in-demand job titles for accounting bachelor’s degree holders include:
- Financial analyst
- Personal financial advisor
- Management consultant
- Financial manager
- Budget analyst
- Senior tax accountant
- Credit analyst
- Accounting manager
However, it is possible to be hired for some accounting positions with only an associate degree in accounting. It’s important to note, though, that these tend to be entry-level positions such as accounting assistant, bookkeeper, accounting clerk, etc. Upward mobility is typically limited without returning to school to earn a four-year degree.
2. Higher Average Salaries
As noted above, earning your bachelor’s degree qualifies you for many more positions than earning your associate degree. However, it isn’t just the variety of jobs that matters; these positions tend to come with much higher average annual salaries, as well.
As a point of comparison, consider these commonly-held job titles and salaries for those with an associate degree in accounting:
- Payroll clerk: $39,321 per year
- Accounting clerk: $39,580 per year
- Administrative assistant: $39,899 per year
- Accounting assistant: $41,374 per year
- Bookkeeper: $43,632 per year
- Auditing clerk: $44,159 per year
Now, consider the average salaries for job titles typically held by those who have earned their bachelor’s degree:
- Accountant: $71,550 per year
- Senior tax accountant: $74,258 per year
- Budget analyst: $76,540 per year
- Accounting manager: $77,395 per year
- Financial analyst: $81,590 per year
- Personal financial advisor: $87,850 per year
- Management consultant: $101,988 per year
- Financial manager: $129,890 per year
The difference becomes even more pronounced when you consider the average pay received by those without any post-secondary degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), individuals who do not graduate from high school earn an average annual salary of approximately $30,800 per year, while those with a high school diploma can expect an average annual salary of about $38,800 per year.
3. Skill Development
Furthering your education is one of the single most effective means of advancing your skills, which is why employers strongly and frequently prefer college graduates. While it may seem like a given, it’s helpful to remember that earning your degree will allow you to strengthen your skills and expertise in a way that is appealing to employers.
Of course, not all degree programs are created equally in this regard. The degree programs that are most effective at helping students develop their skills will be those which prioritize hands-on, experiential learning. For example, at Northeastern, students have many opportunities to put their education into practice through not only coursework but also internships and co-ops that allow them to work on real problems being faced by real companies.
4. Upward Mobility
According to Dustin Snider, a lecturer at Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies, an often overlooked benefit of earning your bachelor’s degree is that it can increase your upward mobility, preparing you not just for the positions discussed above, but leadership positions as well.
“There are a lot of CEOs with accounting degrees,” Snider says.
Even if a leadership position isn’t right for you, Snider notes that earning your bachelor’s degree in the field of accounting is a sure way to guarantee a linear career path with steady growth and development.
“If you’re looking for a straightforward job with consistent employment, raises, and upward mobility, accounting provides one of the more structured careers you could pursue.”
What Type of Degree is Right for You?
At the end of the day, there are many different degrees that can prepare you for a career in accounting. If you are interested in accounting but don’t know for sure if that is the career path that you want to pursue, Snider recommends considering other closely related degrees as well.
For example, Northeastern offers a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Accounting Management. While many students use this degree as a springboard into various accounting positions, just as many choose to go into finance or management. Because the degree is broad in scope, it offers many potential career paths.
“What’s great about Northeastern’s BS in Finance and Accounting Management is that, if you come in pursuing a career in accounting and find it absolutely soul-sucking, you can figure that out and pivot into another concentration,” Snider says. “Our program’s emphasis on experiential learning and job placement will help you decide whether you are going to be comfortable in the silo of accounting or if you want to branch out into more forward thinking-finance or personal focused entrepreneurial endeavors.”