What can you do with a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting?

Considering a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting but not sure about its practicality?  Let's see if we can change your mind.

As we've been at great pains to tell you, accounting as a career is more than sitting behind a paper strewn desk punching keys on an adding machine. 

Accounting is a challenging and exciting field with many different career possibilities.  A Bachelor's Degree is the minimum requirement for most of them.

Bachelor's Degree In AccountingBachelor's Degree In Accounting

The Nuts and Bolts of Accounting Careers

Let's take a step back before really delving into what a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting program actually is. When you think of accounting, do you think of taxes and auditors?  Many people do.  Public accounting, the home of tax preparation and financial audit, is just one accounting career path.  There’s a lot more going on in the world of accounting.

All of these career paths begin with a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting.

Consider some of the following accounting career paths that a Bachelor's Degree In Accounting will support:

  • Cost Accounting – How does a company know if the products they manufacture are profitable?  Seems like a simple question, but for a company with a large product mix things get complex.  Cost accountants analyze the costs incurred in making and selling products.  Costs are divided between overall organizational costs and the specific (direct) costs that apply to just one product or service.  If you work as a cost accountant, you play an active role in the financial viability of the organization.  How’s that for excitement?
  • Financial Accounting – Are you a bottom line kind of person?  Do you take pride in balancing your checking account to the penny?  If so, financial accounting might be right for you.  Financial accountants create the reporting that tells the outside world about a company’s performance for a specific period in time.  It’s not as easy as taking a snapshot.  Financial accountants are involved in reconciling complex accounts to find and correct errors in the day to day transactions of an organization.  It can feel like solving a Suduku puzzle or a large algebra equation.  If you thrive on brain teasers, look no further!
  • Forensic Accounting – Solving crime doesn’t have to involve violence or microscopic evidence.  Forensic accountants are the crime fighters of the accounting world.  Using well developed audit and analysis techniques, forensic accountants delve into financial records looking for fraud.  Working on everything from bankruptcy and divorce to Wall Street Securities fraud and an embezzlement money trail that leads to an offshore account, forensic accounting is far from boring. 
  • Management Accounting – Are you a big picture person with a strategic vision?  Do you enjoy being a functional part of a larger strategy?  If so, you may be suited to management accounting.  Management accountants handle the daily transactions for an organization, supervise accounting staff, and at top levels set strategic accounting policy. 
  • Public Accounting – Ok, we already discussed tax preparation and financial audit.  True, those tasks are part of the life of a public accountant.  You may not realize, though, that public accountants are often the financial and business advisors to entrepreneurs and business owners of small and mid-size companies?  If you enjoy working with people, giving advice, and having a measurable impact, public accounting may be just what you’re looking for.
  • Internal Audit – Are you that tattle tale of your family, always pointing out where your siblings have gone wrong?  Well, in that case internal audit is just the ticket!  Actually, internal audit is not about getting anyone in trouble; it’s about finding errors in processes BEFORE any trouble.  As an internal auditor, you will work within an organization to find and correct issues before they get out of hand. 

Marks of a Good Bachelor's Degree in Accounting Program

As a graduate you can expect an entry level position in any of these fields we've just described.  Maybe you will work as a junior cost accountant or a staff accountant for a public accounting firm.  Perhaps you will handle accounts receivable or accounts payable for a manufacturer or reconcile complex journal entries as a staff accountant.  It’s all up to you.

If you go to the website of nearly any college or university you will read that their bachelor's degree in accounting program is one of the best. 

They can’t all be the best, can they?  It can be difficult to distinguish the good from the bad. 

Many students choose a university by visiting the campus, getting a feel for the culture, and reviewing the financial aid package. 

Understandable, but not the best way to decide your future.  When selecting a bachelor's degree in accounting degree program, you need to look at a little more than the campus.

  • Academics – in addition to basic accounting and business courses, a stand out program lets you get some practical experience.  Look for an academic program that offers students experiential learning opportunities.  Maybe you can manage a student fund, work as an intern at a local company, or work with faculty on basic accounting research.  Some schools even offer free tax preparation services for low income local residents. 
  • Reputation – Is the university you are considering known for its excellence in general and its business school in particular?  Organizations like US News and World Report and Forbes rank universities and report school statistics.  Check there to see which schools lead the race.   Looking at a more local or regional school?  Ask a local CPA if they would hire that school’s graduates.   If not, maybe you should look elsewhere.
  • Placement Statistics – Universities publish placement reports that list statistics for each graduating class.  Not only can you discover if graduates of a schools bachelor degree in accounting program are hired, you can see who hired them.  That’s right – you can see the number of job offers extended to grads by prominent local and national businesses.  Are graduates in hot demand?  Judge for yourself.

Search For A Good Bachelor's Degree in Accounting Program

The Public Accounting Report ranks Bachelor Degree in Accounting programs annually.  Its 2021 Undergraduate rankings are divided by school size and judge each school based on academic quality, reputation, and placement rates, and admittance requirements. 

Do you want to attend a large school with a great program and a lot of energy?  Large universities typically offer an active campus with lots of academic and social options.  They also typically have nationally recognized sports teams, many student organizations, and lots of school spirit.  If this appeals to you, check out the top five:

  1. University of Texas – Austin
  2. Brigham Young University
  3. University of Illinois at Urbana Champagne
  4. University of Notre Dame
  5. Indiana University Bloomington

Maybe you prefer a mid-size campus in a quaint college town.  Medium sized universities often provide the community atmosphere of a small campus combined with the high energy level of a large student population.  These schools are usually a good value, too.  Take a look:

  1. University of Washington
  2. University of Florida
  3. University of Virginia
  4. University of Missouri – Columbia
  5. University of Iowa

Some students really thrive in the intimate setting of a small campus.  The faculty is normally more like family, and the students form close bonds.  At a small college or university you see the same few faces in nearly every class.  Your peers become your best friends.  

Graduates of small schools say the relationships they built on campus stayed strong their entire career.  To get a strong accounting education in an intimate setting, look at these top ranked schools:

  1. College of William & Mary
  2. Binghamton University, SUNY
  3. Fordham University
  4. University of Richmond
  5. Marquette University

Bachelor's Degree in Accounting Summary

A Bachelor Degree in Accounting is all about choice.  Choose your educational institution carefully, considering academics and reputation as well as campus size and culture.  While in attendance, explore the many career options available to you.  The more you know about each concentration, the more comfortable you will be choosing between job offers after graduation.