Can you become an accountant without a degree? While there are many careers out there that don’t require a college degree, accounting often has rigorous education requirements.
Despite this, there are a few ways you can have a successful accounting career without formal education. Keep reading to learn more about your options.
Do You Need a Degree to Be an Accountant?
Some accounting positions require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, while others need only a certification.
If you come across any job postings requiring a CPA certification, you’ll need postsecondary education. However, other jobs in financial management don’t always require a formal degree.
Certifications Required for Most Accounting Positions
If you want to be a certified accountant, chances are you’ll need to pursue a degree or another financial certification. This is because most jurisdictions don’t allow you to take a certification exam without one.
In fact, if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, you cannot sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam.
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. 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. To sit for the CMA exam, you must:
- Have an active membership with IMA,
- Pay a CMA entrance fee,
- Attain a bachelor’s degree OR professional certification,
- Have two or more years of continuous experience in financial management,
- Pass both parts of the CMA exam, and
- Complete 30 hours of continuing professional education per year.
While this may sound intimidating, it’s important to note that you can get your two years of experience after completing the exam. As long as you do so within seven years of the exam, you still qualify for the CMA.
Another great aspect of the CMA is that it doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree. However, you must have another approved certification to count toward the education requirement.
Currently, the IMA considers the following US certifications as sufficient:
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA),
- Certified Internal Auditor (CIA),
- Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), and
- Certified Treasury Professional (CTP).
If you happen to have one of these certifications already, all you need to do is pass the exam and submit proof of your work experience.
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.
In lieu of a degree, candidates may qualify if they have 4,000 hours of work experience (equivalent to about two years).
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 Becoming an Accountant Without a Degree
There are several benefits to pursuing a certification or 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 a certification 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.
These are just a few of the advantages that you may have over college graduates. As long as you dedicate yourself to learning the basics of accounting, you have opportunities to build a successful financial career.
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 a certification. This includes positions like:
- Accounting assistant,
- Accounting clerk,
- Auditing clerk,
- Business analyst,
- Medical billing specialist,
- Administrative assistant,
- Financial administrator, and
- Tax preparer.
Keep in mind that many of these positions can give you enough experience to work toward a certification. Generally, a certification may make it easier to obtain management positions as well.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The course covers a wide array of topics and is sure to help take the first step toward a successful accounting career. Enroll in our online accounting course today!
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.