Recent events like the Enron scandal of 2001 and the "Great Recession" of the last few years have demonstrated, publically and embarrassingly, the importance of honest, capable accountants. As the need for proper money management and specialized recordkeeping within private companies and global corporations continues to rise, students with degrees in accounting are finding excellent job opportunities available to them in both the private and the public sector.

Students who have earned a degree in the accounting are valuable assets to companies, small or large, that need educated and innovative individuals to keep accurate and detailed public or private records of money exchange and expenditures within the company, prepare and pay taxes, and analyze financial information. Businesses are fundamentally money-making ventures, and the accountant is central to recording and analyzing the profitability (or lack thereof) of any company or organization.

Accounting students typically earn a degree in accounting and then pursue a specialized area within the accounting field. The most common accounting specializations are forensic accounting, public accounting and tax accounting.

Forensic Accounting

Forensic accountants are called upon to accurately report and analyze a company's financial data, investigate money-laundering or embezzlement schemes, and use their acquired investigative techniques (learned during their forensic accounting programs) to identify illegal transactions.

Combining elements of law, criminal justice, and accounting, forensic accountants are the public and corporate detectives that are tasked to "follow the money." As a forensic accountant, you will analyze questionable financial transactions linked to criminal or legal cases to help determine the existence of fraud or money laundering. Forensic Accountants are often specialized public accountants, and some may choose to further specialize, pursuing advanced degrees in fields like insurance fraud or money laundering.

Forensic Accounting Career Opportunities

Related Careers: Forensic Accountants, Public Accountants, Tax Accountants, Internal Auditors, Budget Analysts etc…

As businesses continue to rely on specialized accountants in order to discourage and discover white collar crime, the demand for forensic accountants will continue to grow.

Because forensic accounting is a specialized area of the broader accounting field, the BLS does not specifically track information on forensic accountants. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that accountants in all fields will enjoy a favorable, above-average growth rate in the coming years. According to the BLS, employment opportunities for qualified accountants will increase 22% from 2008-2018 – an addition of over 279,400 new jobs. That's a growth rate significantly higher than the 8.2% predicted expansion of the civilian workforce. As businesses grow locally and expand globally, the need for accountants will continue to increase.

Accountants are expected to experience a 22% occupational growth rate over 10 years, much faster than the average for all occupations and the expansion of the civilian workforce.Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Occupational Information Network, or O*NET, a project of the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, predicts that there will be a need for 497,500 accountants, including specialized accountants, from 2008 to 2018. This figure includes the occupational growth predicted by the BLS, AND existing positions vacated by retirement, early termination, promotion, etc.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants who want a high-level accounting position need at least a bachelor's degree in accounting. Forensic accountants, and other accounting specialists, often need a specialized accounting master's degree to qualify.

Earning a specific accounting certification may also benefit employment opportunities. While there is generally not a required certification for forensic accountants, most employers prefer CPAs, or Certified Public Accountants. There are other certifications that a forensic accountant may like to pursue:

  • CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner): can be earned after the acquisition of a bachelor's degree, 2 years of job experience, and the successful completion of a 4-part exam.
  • CFFA (Certified Financial Forensic Accountant): likewise, can be earned after the acquisition of a bachelor's degree, 2 years of job experience, and the successful completion of a 4-part exam.

These certifications are not necessarily required in order to secure employment as a forensic accountant, but may be a helpful credential.

Forensic Accountant Earnings:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an accountant's professional certification (such as receiving their CPA certificate) and education level are direct factors in an accountant's earning potential. The median annual wages of accountants in 2008 were $59,430. The middle 50% made between $45,900 and $78,210. The top 10% of the field made more than $102,380; while the bottom 10% of the field made less than $36,720.

80% of accountants made between $36,729 and $102,380 in 2008.Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Forensic Accounting Educational Benefits

For forensic and public accountants, a formal education is not only beneficial to career prospects, it is a requirement. Most states require 150 semester hours to qualify for CPA certification – 30 hours more than normal bachelor's degree.

According to the Occupational Information Network, only 6% of accountants have a high-school diploma or less, 19% of accountants have some college education (a post-secondary diploma or associate's degree) while 75% of accountants have a college degree (a bachelor's degree) or higher. As the statistics show, ¾ of Accountants have pursued a college degree, making accounting a highly educated and specialized field.

3/4 of accountants have a bachelor's degree or higher.Source: Occupational Information Network

Typically, a bachelor's degree in accounting takes 4 years to complete. This time may vary depending on the enrollment status of the student. Graduates of a vocational school or junior college with a certification or associate's degree (typically taking 1-2 years to complete) in accounting may be eligible in junior and accountant assisting positions, working under more experienced accountants. Junior accountants may advance by demonstrating their accounting abilities in the workplace, or by earning a bachelor's degree.

Accountants typically study a broad range of science and liberal arts subjects including tax law, budget and data management, auditing, mathematics (algebra to calculus), statistics, economics, administration, and government regulations.

Forensic Accounting Programs Online

Degrees Possible: Certificate, Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral Degrees

Forensic accounting is a specialization of accounting, and only a few degree programs are offered specifically in forensic accounting. Online general accounting programs are more common, and earning a degree in one of those generalized programs will prepare you for eventual certification and a specialized career like forensic accounting. Online accounting programs are offered at almost every degree level from certificate programs to doctorate programs. Specialized forensic accounting bachelor's and master's programs do exist, but earning a general bachelor's degree in accounting will often qualify you for entry-level forensic accounting jobs.

The best online accounting degrees will provide a rigorous, high-level education comparable to an accounting degree offered at a local school or college, but in a more flexible format better suited to working students. As with any serious educational decision, do your research when picking an online accounting program: is the school accredited? Will credits transfer? What is the school's job placement rate? What are people saying about this school in general and this program specifically?

Forensic Accounting Skills and Abilities

Forensic accountants must have strong mathematical and critical thinking skills. Forensic accountants must also be able to effectively record, analyze and report information. Because of the complexity of their work, most forensic accountants are required to have above average problem solving and reasoning skills.

Accountants of all kinds must be meticulous with details: a misplaced period or decimal can ruin an individual or a company's balance sheet.

Beyond the skills necessary to all accountants, forensic accountants must be creative, outside-the-box thinkers able to play complicated games of financial cat-and-mouse with suspected criminals.

Forensic Accountant Qualifications and Advancement

Completion of a bachelor's degree in accounting (preferably with coursework in forensic accounting) may qualify graduates for entry-level positions as Forensic Accountants, though many government agencies that may employ forensic accountants (like the IRS and state law enforcement offices) generally require CPA certification.

Because businesses rely so heavily on them, Accountants with good work and educational histories (often including graduate work) are popular candidates for many management and executive positions.

Additional Information

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants maintains a Web site at http://www.aicpa.org.

Public Accounting

If you are adept at analyzing and interpreting complicated mathematical data and maintaining detailed records of money exchange, a career as a public accountant may be right for you. A career in public accounting provides the student with a number of lucrative career possibilities. Whether working independently as a public accountant for individual clients or for the accounting departments of larger corporation, public accountants have a number of career choices.

Public Accountant Career Opportunities

Related Careers: Forensic Accountants, Public Accountants, Tax Accountants, Internal Auditors, Budget Analysts etc…

The BLS reports that accountants in all fields will enjoy a favorable, above-average growth rate in the coming years. According to the BLS, employment opportunities for qualified accountants will increase 22% from 2008-2018 – an addition of 279,400 new jobs. That's a growth rate significantly higher than the 8.2% predicted expansion of the civilian workforce. As businesses grow locally and expand globally, the need for accountants will continue to increase.

Accountants are expected to experience a 22% occupational growth rate over 10 years, much faster than the average for all occupations and the expansion of the civilian workforce.Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Occupational Information Network, or O*NET, a project of the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, predicts that there will be a need for 497,500 accountants, including specialized accountants, from 2008 to 2018. This figure includes the occupational growth predicted by the BLS AND existing positions vacated by retirement, early termination, promotion, etc.

Besides CPA status, public accountants may earn other certification to enhance their credentials and study specific aspects of accounting:

  • CMA (Certified Management Accountant): a certification awarded by The Institute of Management Accountants upon completion of a bachelor's degree or upon earning a specified score on a graduate school entrance exam. Awardees must also have 2 years of management accounting experience and successfully complete and pass a 4-part exam.
  • CIA (Certified Internal Auditor): a certification awarded to graduates from an accredited, post-secondary institution that have worked for 2 years in an internal auditor position and have successfully passed a 4-part exam.
  • CGAP (Certified Government Auditing Professional): a certification awarded to those accounting degree holders who have both passed specific exams and met certain career and/or educational requirements designed to prepare them for public service as government auditors.
  • CFSA (Certified Financial Services Auditor): certification awarded to those accounting degree holders who have both passed specific exams and met certain career and/or educational requirements designed to prepare them for careers in the financial services sector.

Public Accountant Earnings

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an accountant's professional certification (such as receiving their CPA certificate) and education level (obtaining a bachelor's and then pursuing a master's degree in accounting) are direct factors in an accountant's earning potential. The median annual wages of an accountant in 2008 were $59,430. The middle 50% made between $45,900 and $78,210. The top 10% of the field made more than $102,380; while the bottom 10% of the field made less than $36,720.

Public Accounting Educational Benefits

For public accountants, a formal education is not only beneficial to career prospects, it is a requirement. Most states require 150 semester hours to qualify for CPAcertification – 30 hours more than normal bachelor's degree.

According to the government's Occupational Information Network, only 6% of accountants have a high-school diploma or less, 19% of accountants have some college education (a post-secondary diploma or associate's degree) while 75% of accountants have a college degree (a bachelor's degree) or higher. As the statistics show, ¾ of Accountants have pursued a college degree, making accounting a highly educated and specialized field.

3/4 of accountants have a bachelor's degree or higher.Source: Occupational Information Network

Typically, a bachelor's degree in accounting takes 4 to 5 years to complete (because of the additional 30 hours required for CPA certification. This time may vary depending on the full- or part-time status of the student.

Graduates of a vocational school or junior college with a certification or associate's degree (typically taking 1-2 years to complete) in accounting may be eligible in junior and accountant assisting positions, working under more experienced accountants. Junior accountants may advance by demonstrating their accounting abilities in the workplace, or by earning a bachelor's degree.

In the accounting field, the higher the degree level of the prospective employee, the better. Pursuing a Master's of Science in accounting or an accounting MBA will qualify you for even more advanced positions within the accounting field.

Accountants will typically study auditing, tax law, budget and data management, various levels of mathematics (algebra to calculus), statistics, economics, administration, government regulations and more.

Public Accounting Programs Online

Degrees Possible: Certificate, Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral Degrees

Public accounting is a specialization of accounting, and only a few degree programs are offered specifically in public accounting. Online general accounting programs are more common, and earning a degree in one of those generalized programs will prepare you for eventual certification and a specialized career in public accounting. Online accounting programs are offered at almost every degree level from certificate programs to doctorate programs.

The best online accounting degrees will provide a rigorous, high-level education comparable to an accounting degree offered at a local school or college, but in a more flexible format better suited to working students. As with any serious educational decision, do your research when picking an online accounting program: is the school accredited? Will credits transfer? What is the school's job placement rate? What are people saying about this school in general and this program specifically?

Public Accountant Skills and Abilities

Public accountants must possess specialized knowledge in all auditing and tax functions. They must be able to strategically analyze financial information and report and record this information. Many public accountants also have specialized knowledge in tax law, worker compensation, and healthcare benefits. Public accountants must have a specialized understanding of both private and public financial systems.

Accountants of all kinds must be meticulous with details: a misplaced period or decimal can ruin an individual or a company's taxes or balance sheet.

Public Accounting Qualifications and Advancement

Completion of 150 hours of undergraduate semester hours in accounting (30 more than the 120-hour requirement of most other bachelor's degrees) qualifies graduates to take battery of tests administered to aspiring CPAs. Successful completion confers the title of CPA, and qualification for entry-level positions as Certified Public Accountants.

Because businesses rely so heavily on them, Accountants with good work and educational histories (often including graduate work) are popular candidates for many management and executive positions.

Additional Information

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants maintains a Web site at http://www.aicpa.org.

Public Accounting

Two things are certain, the old saying goes: death and taxes. Tax accountants are Certified Public Accountants that deal with the lesser of two evils.

Tax accountants have the credentials to not only offer tax services to individuals but also offer detailed tax information, tax advantages and disadvantages of specific business decisions, handling businesses financial account, and preparing all types of business tax returns. As an accounting specialization, tax accountants also have a bevy of opportunities to work for the federal government, specifically the IRS.

Tax Accounting Career Opportunities

Related Careers: Forensic Accountants, Public Accountants, Tax Accountants, Internal Auditors, Budget Analysts etc…

Tax accountants have a multitude of fascinating, tax-related career opportunities open to them. Some choose to work for individual clients, analyzing and preparing income tax returns or other tax information. Others work for large companies and organizations, putting their specialized knowledge of local, state, and federal tax laws to work for the benefit of their employers. Many others work for the IRS, and state tax collection agencies.

The BLS reports that accountants in all fields will enjoy a favorable, above-average growth rate in the coming years. According to the BLS, employment opportunities for qualified accountants will increase 22% from 2008-2018 – an addition of 279,400 new jobs. That's a growth rate significantly higher than the 8.2% predicted expansion of the civilian workforce. As businesses grow locally and expand globally, the need for accountants will continue to increase.

Accountants are expected to experience a 22% occupational growth rate over 10 years, much faster than the average for all occupations and the expansion of the civilian workforce.Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Occupational Information Network, or O*NET, a project of the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, predicts that there will be a need for 497,500 accountants, including specialized accountants, from 2008-2018. This figure includes the occupational growth predicted by the BLS AND existing positions vacated by retirement, early termination, promotion, etc.

A tax accountant's career opportunities largely depend on the accountant's comprehension and knowledge of exquisitely complex and confusing tax codes. This specialized knowledge can mean the difference between working for individual clients and working in a branch of the federal government. However, many tax accountants have rewarding careers as private client tax accountants.

Once they've earned their CPA, accountants can earn certification to enhance their credentials and study specific aspects of accounting:

  • CMA (Certified Management Accountant): a certification awarded by The Institute of Management Accountants upon completion of a bachelor's degree or upon earning a specified score on a graduate school entrance exam. Awardees must also have 2 years of management accounting experience and successfully complete and pass a 4-part exam.
  • CIA (Certified Internal Auditor): a certification awarded to graduates from an accredited, post-secondary institution that have worked for 2 years in an internal auditor position and have successfully passed a 4-part exam.
  • CGAP (Certified Government Auditing Professional): a certification awarded to those accounting degree holders who have both passed specific exams and met certain career and/or educational requirements designed to prepare them for public service as government auditors.
  • CFSA (Certified Financial Services Auditor): certification awarded to those accounting degree holders who have both passed specific exams and met certain career and/or educational requirements designed to prepare them for careers in the financial services sector.

Tax Accounting Earnings

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an accountant's professional certification (such as receiving their CPA certificate) and education level (obtaining a bachelor's and then pursuing a master's degree in accounting) are direct factors in an accountant's earning potential. The median annual wages of an accountant in 2008 were $59,430. The middle 50% made between $45,900 and $78,210. The top 10% of the field made more than $102,380; while the bottom 10% of the field made less than $36,720.

Accountants are expected to experience a 22% occupational growth rate over 10 years, much faster than the average for all occupations and the expansion of the civilian workforce.Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Tax Accounting Educational Benefits

According to the Occupational Information Network, only 6% of accountants have a high-school diploma or less, 19% of accountants have some college education (a post-secondary diploma or associate's degree) while 75% of accountants have a college degree (a bachelor's degree) or higher.

3/4 of accountants have a bachelor's degree or higher.Source: Occupational Information Network

Typically, a bachelor's degree in accounting takes 4 to 5 years to complete (because of the additional 30 hours required for CPA certification).

Graduates of a vocational school or junior college with a certification or associate's degree (typically taking 1-2 years to complete) in accounting may be eligible in junior and accountant assisting positions, working under more experienced accountants. Junior accountants may advance by demonstrating their accounting abilities in the workplace, or by earning a bachelor's degree.

In the accounting field, the higher the degree level of the prospective employee, the more job opportunities available. Pursuing a Master's of Science in accounting or an accounting MBA will qualify you for even more advanced positions within the accounting field.

Accountants will typically study auditing, tax law, budget and data management, mathematics, statistics, economics, administration, government regulations and more.

Tax Accounting Programs Online

Degrees Possible: Certificate, Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral Degrees

Tax Accounting is a specialization of accounting; only a few online accounting degree programs are specialized tax accounting degrees. Most accountants complete a general accounting bachelor's degree, then enhance their credentials through professional specializations. Not all tax accountants will need additional professional certification, but many employers, including the federal government, prefer CPA and further certification.

The best online programs will provide a rigorous, high-level education comparable to an accounting degree offered at a local school or college, but in a more flexible format better suited to working students. In order to ensure the quality of your education, do your research when picking an online tax accounting program. Is the school accredited? Will credits transfer? What is the school's job placement rate? What are people saying about this school in general and this program specifically?

Tax Accounting Qualifications and Advancement

Completion of an associate's degree in accounting qualifies some candidates for junior accountant positions.

Completion of a bachelor's degree in accounting will qualify most candidates for entry-level positions as Tax Accountants, though some employers prefer CPA certification (requiring an additional 30 credit-hours of formal education).

Because businesses rely so heavily on them, accountants with good work and educational histories (often including graduate work) are popular candidates for many management and executive positions.

Additional Information

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants maintains a Web site at http://www.aicpa.org.