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Can You Get An Accounting Degree Online?
The world is moving into a digital age. This move was prompted even further when the world faced the Covid-19 pandemic, and our new normal is one that seems to encompass many digital interfaces that allow us to connect with the world and even execute our job duties successfully.
From online dating to video calls and video chats, and a number of digital work platforms, the digital space is becoming more and more familiar to the world. Even business processes and business operations are being conducted more often in the digital sphere with many jobs moving online. One such job that has some duties which can be done digitally is accounting.
With it being well known that you cannot be an accountant without having an accounting degree, online degree programs have become more and more popular, with many academic institutes offering online bachelor's degree programs in accounting, making it possible for you to earn an accounting degree online.
Let us delve into online degrees and take a closer look at whether or not you should obtain an online degree in accounting.
There are so many fields of study that people can consider pursuing, some of which require practical and hands-on operations, and others that can be taught remotely. Accounting resides on the unique line between practical and theoretical training.
For example, it is impossible for an individual who is hoping to pursue a career as a doctor to obtain an online degree. While they do need to gain theoretical knowledge of concepts and theories, they also need to gain practical knowledge and experience. They need to work with and treat patients which are not something that can be learned through online teaching.
Learning practices, like conducting surgery, cannot be learned virtually but needs to be taught in a face-to-face environment.
In contrast to this, fields of study like history or literature can be done through virtual and online training. So, while you can obtain a literature or history degree online, you cannot earn a medical degree online.
However, where does accounting lie? While you are not conducting surgery, you do need to look at documents and financial statements of companies and individuals and compile this data into reports for company stakeholders to take into consideration.
But the skills and knowledge that accountants acquire are unwavering and unchanging and once it is learned; they can be applied to a number of different scenarios and clients. Imparting this knowledge is quite easily taught online and can quite easily be grasped by those who are studying to become accountants.
It is therefore extremely possible for those who are hoping to pursue a career in accounting to earn this degree online from institutions that offer online degree programs. There may also be the opportunity to pursue an accounting graduate degree program through online learning, but we will look at this a bit later on.
Why Pursue An Online Degree
There are many reasons and motivations behind why an individual would want to pursue an online degree. Yes, there is nothing quite like the college experience, but there are many people who have families or full-time jobs that don't allow them to be full-time students.
Earning your degree online means that you have more flexibility, and if, for any reason, you are unable to travel to college for lectures, you could pursue your degree from the comfort of your own home or wherever the Wi-Fi is.
Some individuals find themselves working in an accounting-related field and they are hoping to move up the chain of command, but for them to gain access to the growth prospects available to them, they need to obtain a degree in accounting. Since it wouldn't be viable for them to leave their job in the pursuit of their degree, acquiring their degree online is the best option.
The Anatomy Of Online Degrees
Online degree programs have been devised and created to allow convenience, while still requiring a high level of commitment and responsibility.
Online degrees are presented in one of two ways. The first is that coursework is provided by the institution and as a learner, you could go through the course content at your own pace, whether it be after work or on weekends, provided you meet specific milestones and specific deadlines. This is often the case if you pursue a part-time online degree.
Alternatively, you may be required to attend virtual lectures that occur concurrently with face-to-face lectures, where your attendance is taken, and where virtual participation is required. This is an instance of a full-time online degree requirement, and it is easier to pursue when you don't have any other commitments such as work or family to prohibit you from taking full-time classes.
Digitalization In Accounting
Considering how much of the field of accounting has become digitalized, it is no surprise that degree programs are offered through online courses. Keeping in line with digitalization in the industry, with several automated processes and applications that are created to execute accounting operations, the role that accountants once held is shifting.
In modern times, accountants are no longer just the people that compile and interpret financial data for a business, but instead, they become the people who consult with business managers to ensure the smooth operation and financial compliance of a business.
They are also there to ensure that digitalized programs and functions are executed accurately, and that the data is interpreted and presented correctly to the management and c-suite executives within a company.
The role and value that accountants once held in businesses and companies have grown substantially. They are no longer required to just analyze and assess the financial data, but they are required to advise and confirm that the digital data that has been compiled is true and an accurate reflection of what is currently happening within a company.
Through accounting programs such as Xero, Sage Business Cloud Accounting, and FreshBooks, accounting processes are thought to be made easier, but in fact, accountants are also required to know about these digital programs and interfaces, and they need to have the ability to effectively assist clients in using these programs.
What Degree Do You Need To Be An Accountant?
If you are hoping to become an accountant and you are weighing either your traditional or online degree options, at the very least, you would require a bachelor's degree in accounting. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants and auditors are required to have a bachelor's degree for an entry-level role within the field.
Of course, the higher the level of education that you have, the greater your prospects are of growing in your career and earning a higher role as an accountant. Higher degrees may even present you with an option for pursuing a specific subfield in accounting and focusing on a specific field of study.
While many bachelor's degree programs are offered online, some institutes offer graduate degree programs online as well. In the U.S., these institutions include UCLA, NYU, and Ohio State University, however, it is important to make sure that these institutes offer the degree program and specified coursework for the specialization in which you are hoping to enroll.
Is An Online Degree Cheaper Than A Traditional Degree?
While this does vary from program to program ad from institution to institution, online degree programs do tend to be cheaper than traditional degree programs. This is for a variety of reasons.
Firstly, for the institution or the university itself, it uses fewer resources, less maintenance, and smaller venues to conduct lectures and lessons, meaning that the institute can save on utilities. Using online resources is much cheaper than using paper or other forms of resources that often cost a lot to the student as well as the institution.
The student gets to save money on travel costs and accommodation, and they can work on the coursework from anywhere provided they have the resources that the institute requires of them to pursue the degree.
What Courses Can You Take In An Online Accounting Degree Program?
The coursework that you will find yourself exposed to during an online degree and a traditional degree is quite similar. You may find yourself doing coursework in accounting and business ethics, managerial accounting, auditing, taxation, business law, accounting principles, strategic planning, and business economics.
Where Can You Work With An Online Degree In Accounting?
In a nutshell, you can work anywhere with an online degree in accounting that you could work with a traditional degree in accounting.
You could pursue a role as an accountant, a financial analyst, or as a personal financial advisor, among other roles. You can also work within an accounting firm where your services would be outsourced to any company that requires accounting services, or you may find yourself permanently employed in the finance and accounting division of a company.
Is An Online Degree In Accounting Worth It?
There has been a false notion and an incorrect narrative that has been formed around online degrees with a false understanding that online degrees are viewed as inferior to traditional degree programs. With the shift toward digitalization that the world is currently seeing, this narrative is being changed.
The truth is that earning an online degree and earning a traditional degree in accounting will equip you with the exact same skills that you will need to fulfill the duties of an accountant, an auditor, or any other role you are hoping to fulfill in the field of accounting.
Any degree or qualification that you strive toward takes hard work and dedication, and the method by which you obtain this degree cannot make it inferior. Online and traditional degree programs carry the same prestige.
How Long Does It Take To Obtain An Online Bachelor's Degree In Accounting?
It can take up to four years to complete a bachelor's degree in accounting through an online program. To complete your degree, you are required to obtain 120 credits overall, and you would complete around 30 credits per year which will be obtained by completing four to five courses per year.
Is It Possible To Be An Accountant Without A Degree?
No, it is not. Working as an accountant is a role that carries a lot of weight and a lot of responsibility. Someone underqualified may not be considered to handle and work with the sensitive information and the financials of a company.
To become an accountant, you would need to obtain a bachelor's degree, and if you are hoping to pursue higher roles within the field, you may consider furthering your education and pursuing a master's degree in accounting.
How Do I Start My Career As An Accountant?
According to the BLS, bookkeepers, accounting, and auditing clerks require little to no college education to fulfill such roles. This may be a viable starting point if you are considering pursuing an online degree in accounting as it will allow you to gain experience in the field while working toward your qualification.
Alternatively, you could start with a full-time degree program and begin your bachelor's degree before seeking employment.
How Much Does An Accountant Earn?
The BLS states that accountants and auditors earn a median annual salary of $77,250.
Pursuing an accounting degree allows you access to a number of benefits. First, you can advance your skills and knowledge by obtaining a degree while actively working in the field of accounting. Advancing your education increases your employability and boosts your prospects for growth within an organization.
If you are working while you are studying toward an online degree, you will see a faster return on the investment you are making into yourself. And finally, online degrees carry the same weight, credit, and prestige that traditional degrees carry. This means you have access to quality education without compromising the skills and knowledge that you acquire.
If an online accounting degree is something you are considering, consider this as your sign to take the plunge and provide yourself with an opportunity to upskill yourself. Equipping yourself with education is ensuring that you have a value that can never be taken away from you – online or not.
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