Should I Be an Accounting Major? The Info You Need to Decide
You’ve always had a head for numbers and an eye for details. You make filing taxes look easy, and managing your household budget is your superpower. Lately you’ve been thinking about going back to school to turn your natural talents into a career.
Becoming an accounting major sounds like a good match for your interests, but you have lingering questions before you commit. Will you enjoy being an accounting major? What types of jobs will you be qualified for after you graduate?
We have the answers you’re looking for! Join us as we reveal what it’s like to be an accounting major so you can know what to expect, both in school and in your future career.
Accounting major jobs
It might seem obvious that accounting majors are preparing to become accountants, but there is more variety to this business field than you might think. “Accounting is the universal language of business, and as a result, provides a sound foundation for any student to enter the business world,” says Tanner Dodson of Best Fit Accounting.
Accounting majors can choose between public and private accounting, or they can leverage their business skills to work in other financial areas like auditing, financial analysis and even marketing forecasting or running their own private firm.
No matter which area of business accounting majors choose to pursue, they should be prepared to work closely with financial documents. They’re often responsible for organizing financial records, maintaining bookkeeping records, analyzing financial operations and preparing tax documents, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).1
So what specific roles can an accounting degree lead to? To shed some light on that, we analyzed more than 568,700 accounting major job postings to find the top job titles available to accounting majors:2
- Financial analyst
- Staff accountant
- Senior accountant
- Accounting manager
- Accounting clerk
- Tax manager
- Internal auditor
Accounting major salary
Your future earning potential can be a big factor in choosing which major to pursue. Aspiring accounting majors will be glad to hear that the BLS reports a median annual salary of $70,500 for accountants in 2018.1 Those who earn the most work in the finance and insurance industries, and the top 10 percent of earners made more than $122,840 in 2018, according to the BLS.1
Accountants are also seeing a steady job growth of 10 percent through 2026—that’s faster than the national average.1 The BLS reports that our complex tax system and the increasing globalization of the economy will keep accountants in growing demand for the foreseeable future. If you’re worried that automated software will take the place of trained accountants, think again. The BLS expects that these changes will make accountants more efficient, but they won’t decrease their demand in the workforce.
Accounting major skills
Attention to detail and a good handle on basic math are probably the first accounting skills you think of. However, it takes more than just these stereotypical accountant skills to make it in the workforce. “A successful accountant has to be inquisitive, and not afraid to ask questions,” Dodson says. “New accountants need to be open enough to ask for help from others, and be mindful of areas in which they need improvement.”
Accountants must also be able to use specialized software and tools to help them with duties like bookkeeping or financial analysis. Here’s the full breakdown of the in-demand accounting skills employers are looking for, based on our analysis of accounting major job postings.2
Top technical skills for accountants
- Financial reporting
- Account reconciliation
- Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
- Financial statements
- Financial analysis
- General ledger
- Business administration
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
Top transferable skills for accountants
- Microsoft Office™
- Attention to detail
Accounting major courses
Don’t worry if you’re lacking in some of the skills you’ll need to become an accountant! The courses you’ll take as an accounting major are designed to prepare you for the workforce. Accounting majors will be introduced to the software and other technical skills they’ll need to know in courses like these:
- Advanced auditing concepts and standards
- Accounting information systems
- Corporate and international accounting
- Financial markets and institutions
- Risk management for accountants
Accounting majors may also have access to programs that will take them beyond the classroom so they can gain hands-on experience that will make them a valuable asset for potential employers.
“Accounting programs are still some of the best out there for lining up relevant internships with industry-leading accounting firms,” says Ashley Dodson, CPA and owner of an accounting firm that specializes in nonprofits. “Accounting majors have a unique advantage in regards to the internships available to them, and oftentimes are immediately hired upon graduation by the employer they interned at.”
Accounting for your future
If you’re ready to tackle finances that go beyond your household budget, becoming an accounting major could be the right step for you. This degree program takes your skills to the next level and prepares you for the business world.
Learn more about what your future accounting career could look like with our breakdown of Accounting Career Paths: A Number-Cruncher’s Guide.
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [information accessed March 13, 2019] www.bls.gov/ooh/. 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.
2Source: Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 568,750 accounting major job postings, Mar. 01, 2018 – Feb. 28, 2019).
Microsoft Office is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation.
Consumer Disclosure: See https://www.rasmussen.edu/pdf/ged/accounting-bs.pdf for information about this program including cost, length and debt.