There’s an age-old saying that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” You’ve probably heard it, but if not, it simply means that different people can have different ideas about the value of an item. And when it comes to the perceived value inanimate objects – like an accounting degree, for example – it is “worth” whatever value is put on it by the holder, society and potential employers.
The paper on which is a degree is printed is admittedly not worth much, but the value of what that degree symbolizes is another question altogether. Will your degree improve your social status? Will your degree help you find friends or drive fancy cars? Will your degree help you land a job? How about find a lucrative career? These questions represent the potential of a degree.
In order to find quantifiable answers to these questions about potential, we looked at job outlook, salaries and skills for the accounting field. Our aim is to provide indisputable data that will help you answer that single burning question that you’re asking yourself right now: Is an accounting degree worth it or worthless?
The number of jobs for accounting majors is remarkable
Benjamin Franklin famously said in 1789: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” And over 200 years later anyone considering an accounting degree should know that the need for accounting professionals continues to be very strong. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts more than 190,000 new accounting professionals will be hired through 2020 – that growth is 5 percent higher than the average occupation!
Along with this job growth you can also expect to see positions available within a wide range of different professional industries. Here are the top industries to target.
These projections allow you to be a bit pickier in your search for a position within a company that best fits your personality, interests and passions. You’ll have a chance to find a place that you enjoy working, not just a place to collect a paycheck.
Next, when it comes to the salary you can expect from this field, the numbers don’t lie.
The average accounting salary is impressive
Accounting is a career in which people are responsible for tracking and analyzing the financial health of an individual or corporation. So it stands to reason that the average salary for people in those positions reflects that level of accountability.
Compared to the average annual salary among all occupations and industries – $45,790 – the salaries for accounting professionals are quite strong and typically above average. That’s great news if earning a substantial income and improving your lifestyle is something that interests you.
Bear in mind, though, that the average salary for accounting positions seems to fluctuate a bit by industry. Once you earn a degree, you’ll have the ability to pursue opportunities in different industries so you can target positions that fit your interests and desired salary.
But before you start daydreaming about living the life of a high-roller, wait. In order to be qualified for any of the positions listed above, you need to know which skills potential employers are looking for in top candidates.
The need for accounting skills is high
If you crave a prestigious career, it’s going to take hard work and dedication to achieve. A great place to start is to understand the specific accounting skills employers will be looking for on your resume. The 10 skills in greatest demand for careers in accounting* include:
2. Accounts Payable and Receivable
3. Account Reconciliation
4. General Ledger
5. Financial Statements
6. Financial Reporting
7. Public Accounting
8. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
10. Internal Auditing
The coursework in an accounting degree program will help you develop many these skills. But being aware of them now will make it easier to take each classroom assignment more seriously than your classmates. Just like you compete with your classmates for the best grades in class, in the real world, you’ll be competing with them to land the best jobs.
Almost a million positions over the last year listed “accounting” as a necessary skill for candidates, so if you want the best jobs, that’s not enough. The more you focus on developing some of these other skills, the better the chances of impressing the hiring manager and, ultimately, achieving the lifestyle you want. **
You’re ready to make a decision
Now that you have seen the number of job opportunities, eye-catching salaries and the demand for skills in accounting, it’s clear that the answer to your initial question – Is an accounting degree worth it? – is yes.
But remember, earning an accounting degree only earns you the potential to live a life of luxury. The hard work, dedication and ultimate decision, all need to come from you.
If you’re up for the challenge, get started on earning your accounting degree right now.
*Source: BurningGlass (Analysis of greatest skills in demand for accounting careers, Oct. 23, 2012 to Oct. 22, 2013)
**Source: BurningGlass (Analysis of top occupation groups for jobs requiring skills in accounting, Oct. 23, 2012 to Oct. 22, 2013)