Having an accountant is essential in ensuring an individual’s or business’s finances are accurate and correct. Accountancy is a lucrative career that is always in demand. But how do you become an accountant?
While there are many careers out there that don’t require a college degree, working in accounting often has rigorous education requirements.
So you may be wondering the following:
- Do you need a degree to be an accountant?
- What are the benefits of working in accounting without a degree?
There are a few ways you can have a successful accounting career without formal education. Keep reading to learn more about how to get into accounting without a degree.
What Is Accounting?
Accounting “is the process of keeping track of all financial transactions within a business.”
This is important for the following reasons:
- Current and accurate accounting information is needed to make informed business decisions;
- All financial information must be accurate and filed with the appropriate institution, such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); and
- Financial information must comply with local, state, and federal laws and regulations.
Accountants handle this accounting process and ensure the statements are accurate and legal.
Do You Need a Degree to Be an Accountant?
While many accounting positions require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, not all of them do. You can learn more about how to be an accountant through experience and informal classes.
If you come across any job postings requiring a certified public accountant (CPA) certification, you need postsecondary education. However, other jobs in accounting or financial management don’t always require a formal degree.
Accounting Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree
Finding accounting jobs without a degree may seem intimidating at first. However, there are plenty of opportunities for those who don’t have a degree or certification.
This includes positions like:
- Accounting/administrative assistant,
- Accounting clerk,
- Auditing clerk,
- Business analyst,
- Medical billing specialist,
- Administrative assistant,
- Financial administrator, and
- Tax preparer.
Certifications Required for Most Accounting Positions
Some accounting positions require certification. Some require you to reach a certain number of college credits. For example, if you want to be a certified public accountant, you need college credits. However, there are a few other certifications that don’t require a college degree. Ultimately, your need for certification depends on your specific career goals.
Created by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification is a popular choice.
To sit for the CMA exam, you must meet the following requirements:
- Have an active membership with IMA,
- Pay a CMA entrance fee,
- Attain a bachelor’s degree
- Have two or more years of continuous experience in financial management, and
- Pass both parts of the CMA exam.
Typically, accountants get a CMA if they want to work in a leadership role for a business.
Their job is to analyze financial data from multiple sources to inform future decisions for the business at a high level. As a result, many become senior accountants, chief financial officers, or auditors.
A Certified Financial Analyst, or CFA, is a financial professional who primarily works in investment management. Their job is to manage the assets of a business and assess financial risk.
Awarded by the CFA Institute, this certification does not require a bachelor’s degree and may be obtained through:
- Three exams,
- Qualified work experience, and
- 2-3 professional references.
Candidates may qualify to sit for the exam if they have 4,000 hours of work experience
This experience doesn’t have to be investment-specific and includes any paid internships. This means that if you get your experience through bookkeeping or another financial position, it may still count towards your CFA.
Benefits of Working in Accounting Without a Degree
There are several benefits to pursuing an accounting position without a degree. Some of these potential benefits include:
- Flexibility. A bachelor’s degree can take upwards of four years to complete. To accomplish this, students must follow a rigid schedule with intensive coursework. Completing other courses or certifications allows you to learn at your own pace, making it easier to stick to your education.
- Low cost. College education comes with a hefty price tag, with most accounting programs costing tens of thousands of dollars. Certifications and exams are significantly less, making it easier to save for the future.
- More experience. Due to the intensity of a bachelor’s program in accounting, many students don’t have time to get experience. However, if you learn on your own, you have plenty of time to work in finance before getting your certification.
As long as you dedicate yourself to learning the basics of accounting, you should have opportunities to build a successful financial career.
Ways to Boost Your Experience
Once you choose your career path, there are a variety of ways to gain experience. This is especially important if you decide to pursue a certification.
One of the most popular ways to gain experience is to find an internship. You will learn the skills needed to work in a given field in an internship. With an accounting internship, you will learn the requirements of the job and the financial skills required to perform the job duties.
The benefit of an internship is that you get real-world experience to put on your resume. In addition, an internship makes it easier to network with other financial professionals who can vouch for your knowledge.
Most internships are not paid. This may be a drawback if you need income to stay afloat financially. However, internships can provide undeniable benefits if you can do it.
Another popular option is volunteering. Non-profit organizations are always looking for help with their financial management.
This is an excellent opportunity to not only help a cause you value but also gain the accounting experience you need.
This does have the same drawback as participating in an internship: no pay. However, having experience as a volunteer adds character to your resume and shows that you have compassion for a cause.
Taking an online course generally does not count as education required for certain certifications. However, online accounting courses can be very beneficial. Online courses can teach you the foundational concepts of accounting.
This background may make it easier for you to get hired. If you already have a basic understanding of accounting concepts, then employers do not have to teach everything to you from square one.
Online courses can also be much more economical than enrolling in a degree program at a college or university.
Get Accounting Career Training with Stratford Career Institute
Before you can get into jobs and certifications, an introductory course in accounting may be the very best place to start! Having a solid understanding of accounting basics is essential in obtaining entry-level careers in accounting.
With Stratford Career Institute’s accounting course, you can gain a solid understanding of fundamental accounting principles – at home when YOU have time.
This course covers a wide array of topics and is sure to help take the first step toward a successful accounting career. In our online program, you can learn the basic and essential accounting concepts, including the following:
- Balance sheets,
- Income statements,
- Net income,
- Cost of goods sold,
- Measuring and reporting receivables,
- Payroll and taxes,
- Statement of cash flows,
- Retained earnings,
- Inventory systems,
- Distributing dividends,
- And more.
This educational program is an introductory course designed to help students gain the knowledge necessary for the vocational application of this subject. Completion of this program does not fulfill the legal requirements of particular state licenses or certifications, which may require additional training or apprenticeships.
Become an Accountant Today!
Explore Stratford Career Institute’s accounting course to see if it is right for you. With our course, you will gain a solid understanding of solid accounting principles.