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Accounting vs. Computer Science: Analyzing These In-Demand Careers

accounting versus computer science

You pay strict attention to detail and maintain sharp analytical skills. With this in mind, you’ve likely done some research on careers that would leverage these abilities. After also considering crucial components such as job security and earning potential, you’ve narrowed down your options to two fields: accounting versus computer science.

It’s no wonder you’ve landed on these two options, because the future looks bright for both. But although they require some of the same skills and aptitudes to perform the job duties, the jobs themselves are quite different.

So how do you know which career path is right for you? We created a side-by-side comparison so you can easily evaluate which option best meets your needs. Keep reading to discover which career is your calling.

Accounting vs. computer science: The basics

Both accounting and computer science careers will incorporate a fair amount of mathematics and analytical skills. Whether you’re crunching numbers in accounting or writing code in computer science, you consider yourself methodical and computer savvy. This makes you well-equipped to succeed in either industry!

It’s going to take a bit more research before you’re able to choose a winner in the accounting versus computer science debate. Read on to find the information to help.

Accounting vs. computer science: Job duties

Before we get any further, it’s imperative that you understand what each of these jobs actually entails. After all, this is what you’ll be doing 40 hours for who knows how many years, so you better enjoy what you’re doing!

Put simply, accountants will spend much of their days examining financial statements for accuracy, computing taxes and inspecting account books and accounting systems for efficiency.

While there is a wide variety of accounting jobs and specializations within the field, many of these careers will require you to assess financial operations of organizations, government agencies or even your own employer if you work as an internal auditor.

The higher you climb on the chain of command, the more management responsibilities you’ll have to assume. This includes finding ways to reduce costs, increase revenue and manage other budgetary concerns within the company.

The job duties within the computer science field can vary greatly by specific job title. Some common duties you can expect, however, include writing code to create software programs, creating information systems solutions for an organization’s current computer systems, and using specialized software to store, organize and protect data.

Developing apps, creating websites and monitoring technical aspects of computer systems, such as performance and capacity, are also common computer science job duties. Check out this list of computer science careers to learn more about the specific duties required in various positions in the field.

Accounting vs. computer science: Required education

Earning a degree is one of the most important credentials for both accounting and computer science careers. We used real-time job analysis software to determine just how important this factor is in each field.

An examination of nearly 300,000 accounting job postings revealed that 98 percent of employers prefer accounting candidates have at least a bachelor’s degree.1A similar analysis of more than 1.7 million computer science job postings found that 86 percent of employers prefer computer science candidates to have a bachelor’s degree or higher.2

This suggests that pursuing a formal education will increase your employment chances in both industries. There are also certification opportunities to further your training in either field. Some common options for accounting certifications are: the CPA, the CMA and the CIA.

There is a whole plethora of technology certifications available for computer science professionals, but a few popular options include: the CCNP, the MCSE and the CompTIA A+.

Accounting vs. computer science: Skills needed

You now know earning a degree will help set you up for success in the industry, but that’s only the beginning. The knowledge and skills you acquire from your courses are essential to landing a job. The analyses mentioned above helped us identify the top skills employers are seeking in each field.

Top skills employers are seeking in each field

In-demand accounting skills1 In-demand computer science skills2
Account reconciliation SQL
Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) JAVA
Financial reporting JavaScript
General ledger Oracle
Accounts payable & receivable LINUX

Accounting vs. computer science: Salary & job outlook

Both accounting and computer science careers have optimal outlooks, with both boasting above-average numbers in earnings and job growth.

The median annual salary for accountants in 2014 was $65,940, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).3 The BLS also projects jobs for accountants to increase by 11 percent through 2024.

There are several careers that fall under the umbrella of computer science, all of which come with impressive figures. The BLS lists the median annual salary for these positions as $79,390 in 2014, with jobs expected to grow at a 12 percent rate through 2024.

The median annual wage for all occupations in 2014 was $35,540, with positions projected to grow at the average rate of seven percent through 2024, according to the BLS. This indicates that regardless of which career path you pursue, you can be confident in your earning potential and job opportunities for years to come.

Accounting vs. computer science: Career path options

When considering a new career, it’s important to know the path you’re taking won’t lead to a dead end. You want to know you’ll have options and advancement opportunities after entering the field. The good news is that both accounting and computer science offer promising prospects.

Take a look at the top five job titles available in each sector to get a sampling of positions you might pursue:

Top accounting job titles1 Top computer science job titles2
Staff accountant Software developer/engineer
Accounting manager Systems analyst
Tax manager Network administrator
Internal auditor Database administrator
Accounting analyst Business intelligence analyst

Choose a side

Accounting versus computer science – which side will you choose? You now have an arsenal of information that should put you one step closer to making your decision. But a bit more research will help you be certain you’re making the right decision.

If you’re leaning towards accounting, learn more about the ins and outs of the job in this article: What Do Accountants Do? A Look at Life Behind the Ledger.

If you think you’re cut out for a computer science career, check out this article to learn about all of the avenues available: What Can You Do With a Computer Science Degree?


1 (analysis of 292,829 accounting job postings, Dec. 1, 2014 – Nov. 30, 2015)
2 (analysis of 1,715,856 computer science job postings, Dec. 1, 2014 – Nov. 30, 2015)
3 Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.

Aaron Lawrence

Aaron is a freelance writer for Collegis education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. His interest in writing articles for students stems from his passion for poetry and fiction and the belief that all words can educate.

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