What Can You Do With an Online Accounting Degree?

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accounting degrees students on a front of computer while friends reading newspaper at the backThere are many exciting, well-compensated career opportunities with an online accounting degree, from bookkeepers to Certified Public Accountants (CPA’s). If you like the challenge of handling the finances of companies or individuals, and helping businesses stay on track financially, then a career in accounting is a great way to get a jump start in the corporate world!

Careers in Accounting

When working in the world of accounting, you will be responsible for helping a business, organization, or individual with their financial obligations. Typically, those in accounting work to reconcile financial accounts, accurately report data, and help a company make wise financial decisions based upon their current situation.

In the table below, we put together a sampling of top job opportunities in accounting and their median annual salaries to give you an idea of paths that you can take after successfully completing your online Accounting program:

Job Title Job Summary

Median Annual Salary

Accounting Manager Develops and implements systems for gathering and reporting financial information for their clients.

$72,318

Senior Accountant Head of a company’s accounting division and works to manage teams and financial records of the organization.

$68,343

Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Responsible for handling the accounting, tax, and audit processes for businesses or individuals.

$67,376

Tax Accountant Specializes in preparing and submitting tax documents for both individual and corporate clients.

$57,097

Accounting Specialist Responsible for executing accounting tasks and strategies, as well as performing daily financial activities for their organization.

$46,527

*Job and salary data provided by Payscale.com


Accounting is a respected and necessary division of the business world, and many individuals working in this field have opportunities to work themselves up to managerial or executive positions. While you may begin in an entry-level job, over time you may as much or more than the median annual salaries shown above based upon your unique experience and skillset.

Types of Online Accounting Degrees

If you need flexibility in your schedule while earning your Accounting degree, many of the nation’s top universities are offering online programs that can be structured to fit into your busy life. From associate’s degrees to get you started in an entry-level career to competitive graduate degree programs, there are several options for successfully continuing your education with an online Accounting degree program.

Online Associate’s Degrees in Accounting

An associate’s degree in Accounting will give you a solid foundation for understanding essential accounting responsibilities. Through the course of your program, you will learn a variety of skills that include tracking financial records, handling payroll, and billing functions. These skills will prepare you for taking on entry-level positions in public accounting, corporate work, government, or non-profit organizations.

Online Associate’s in Accounting:

Throughout the course of your online associate’s program in Accounting, you will take several specialized classes beyond the basic general education courses. These classes may include:

  • Financial Accounting
  • Accounting Theory and Applications
  • Income Taxation
  • Accounting Information Systems

After earning your Accounting degree, you have the opportunity to jump right into the workforce or continue your education by working towards a bachelor’s degree in Accounting.

Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Accounting

The business world is competitive, and having a bachelor’s degree in Accounting will open the door to further career opportunities. After successful completion of this online degree program, you will have a strong knowledge of various business disciplines as well as specialized financial skills to help a business succeed in the changing economy.

Online Bachelor’s in Accounting:

A few of the many topics that you may cover over the course of your online bachelor’s in Accounting degree program include:

  • Corporate finances
  • Economics and statistics
  • Critical thinking and strategic problem solving
  • Laws, ethics, and business regulations
  • Financial planning and analysis

Upon completion of a bachelor’s Accounting program, you will have the chance to sit for professional certification exams to prepare you for work in a number of careers, such as a Certified Internal Auditor or Certified Fraud Examiner.

Online Master’s Degrees in Accounting

In the field of accounting, graduate degrees can open the door for opportunities in a variety of managerial and professional positions. Often these programs leading to online degrees require around 30 credit hours for graduation and can be completed in less than two years, but you may be able to work at a faster or slower pace to meet the demands of your professional and personal life.

Online Master’s in Accounting:

After completion of your master’s degree in Accounting, you can find work in a number of high-level careers, including:

  • Audit Accountant
  • Business Owner
  • Certified Public Accountant
  • Finance Manager
  • Tax Auditor

After earning your degree through a reputable, accredited university, you will be able to apply your completed credit hours towards the requirements for professional certification exams, such as the CPA exam.

Online Doctorate Degrees in Accounting

If you are interested in high-level career positions or want to teach within a post-secondary institution, then earning a PhD in Accounting is the pinnacle of your educational journey. Through the course of this program you will participate in challenging courses that focus on research, critical thinking, and in-depth knowledge of ethical and legal frameworks to increase your professional skillset. Many schools also offer doctorate degrees in Business Management or Administration with a specialization in Accounting to help you achieve these goals.

Online Doctorate in Accounting:

Career opportunities that are available to you after earning your PhD in Accounting include the following:

  • Business researcher
  • Chief financial officer
  • Dean of a business or accounting program
  • Faculty member of a college or university
  • Senior accountant

In order to successfully graduate from an online doctorate level program in Accounting, you will also typically be required to research, write, and present a professional dissertation.

Accounting Career Outlook and Salary Information

Those with professional knowledge of accounting play an essential role in the success of a business. In order to stay competitive in a changing economy, businesses, organizations, and individuals must make wise financial decisions and stay on top of their financial obligations. While many careers within accounting have an overall positive growth trend, those who hold advanced skills and are proficient in common accounting computer programs have the best career outlook due to changes in technology and business practices.

For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that those working as accountants and auditors will experience a 4% growth rate between 2019 and 2029, which is about as fast as the national average across all occupations. Additionally, those who are interested in business and financial operations occupations will see a 5% growth rate within this same timeframe.

When considering annual salaries, graduates from an online Accounting degree program can typically expect to make more than the national average annual wage of $53,490. The median annual salary for those working in business and financial occupations is $69,820, while accountants and auditors can expect to see median salaries around $71,550 – much higher than the national average!

Check out our list of the Top 40 Accounting careers to compare jobs and salaries in this field.

Is an Online Degree in Accounting Right for me?

With the popularity of virtual degree programs rising, many students are wondering if an online degree in Accounting is the right fit for them. If you enroll in an online degree program from an accredited university, you will be offered the same high-quality education and resources as those who take traditional on-campus classes. For individuals who are self-motivated, organized learners, online classes can be an excellent way to work towards a reputable degree on a timeframe that is flexible enough to fit into your busy life.

Enrolling in an online Accounting program has several advantages for adult students juggling career and family obligations, including:

  • Opportunities to learn from accounting and business experts across the country
  • Ability to completed your degree program in less time through alternative schedules or accelerated classes
  • Virtual tutoring, advising, and mentorship programs for Accounting students
  • Opportunity to increase computer skill training through state of the art software

What’s the difference between Accounting and Finance?

While both Accounting and Finance degrees cover financial skills to use within a professional business career, there are several distinct differences between the two programs. While some career opportunities can be pursued with either degree, Accounting typically covers a different aspect of a business’s financial department.

Overall, the field of accounting deals with current and past financial aspects of a business, while finance is more concerned with making projections to help a business achieve financial goals in the future. An accounting career focuses on duties that include reconciling financial accounts, handing financial statements and reporting, and ensuring that a business is on track with their financial obligations.

Interested in Finance? Check out our in-depth discussion of finance degrees and programs.

Comparing Top Accounting Degree Programs

There are several factors to take into consideration when choosing a school to complete your online Accounting degree. By doing your research beforehand, you can ensure that your degree will be respected by future employers within the workforce. Below we discuss a few essential factors that you should look into during the process of choosing an Accounting program:

Accreditation

Accreditation is an essential aspect of a reputable online Accounting degree program. Although many traditional universities offer online courses that are accredited within the industry, there are still “degree mill” schools out there with non-accredited Accounting programs that you want to avoid at all costs.

By going through the voluntary accreditation process, a school has their academic offerings and curriculum reviewed to ensure that it is of the high-quality expected by its student body. There are several regional accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, as well as national agencies that include the following:

If you are wondering if your school’s accreditation is recognized, take a look at the U.S. Department of Education’s website for a complete list of recognized agencies.

Student to Faculty Ratio

Having a small class size in your Accounting courses is just as important when taking online classes as is for traditional on-campus classes. When your university is committed to having low student to faculty ratios, they help ensure that you will get the individualized attention and support that you need in order to succeed within the Accounting program.

Additionally, it is also a good idea to look into the faculty qualifications of the college or university that you hope to attend for your online Accounting degree. Many schools have a “Faculty” section of their website where current and prospective students can get more information on the credentials and experience of the professors who will be teaching your Accounting courses.

Academic Advising and Student Services

An accredited, quality curriculum is an essential factor in choosing a school to complete your Accounting degree, but it is also important to look at the academic and student services that your prospective college offers their online students. A few of the supportive services you may see from top online universities include:

  • Online career and academic advising services to help you reach your business career goals
  • Full online business library and research resources to complete academic assignments
  • Opportunities for internship and mentoring programs in a variety of accounting careers

If you want to make a difference in the world of business and have a head for numbers, then an online degree in Accounting may be the perfect way to get a jumpstart in a lucrative and rewarding career! With a positive job outlook and constantly expanding business environment, those who pursue an Accounting education have a number of exciting opportunities to make the most out of their online degree!

Ready to start your journey?
Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.