Is An Associates Degree in Accounting Worth It? Explore Accountant Careers & Salaries

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Is an associates degree in accounting worth it? Explore salaries, job outlook, and industry growth rates to see if an accounting degree is the right choice for you.

Is An Associates Degree in Accounting Worth It

Let’s take a closer look as to why enrolling in an associate’s accounting degree online may be the right decision for you. Every company, non-profit organization, and government agency needs accountants.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who earn an associate’s degree earn an average salary of $56,590 per year. Plus, when you earn your associate’s degree in accounting online, you can enjoy the flexibility of completing your studies from the comfort of your own home!

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With the option to earn your bachelor’s, you may further increase your earning potential. So, earning an associate’s degree is worth it for many students.

What Makes an Associates in Accounting Worth It?

team of accountants working on a project

There are quite a few reasons why earning an associate’s in accounting may be beneficial. Your employability should be strengthened, and you stand to become more attractive to prospect to employers looking to hire accounting-literate individuals.

Another welcome benefit of having an associate’s degree in accounting is the increase in earning potential. Having an associate’s degree in accounting may mean more than a hundred dollars more per week compared to those working with just a high school diploma.

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Another advantage of earning this degree is that it typically only takes two years to complete, which ultimately means that you should be saving both time and money when compared to pursuing a 4 year degree.

Also, even when you’re enrolled, you can likely still hold a job because the schools that offer these courses tend to be flexible with their schedules.

Finally, one of the most important advantages of studying to earn your associate’s degree in accounting is that the credits should count toward a bachelor’s degree. So, if in the future you decide to get your bachelor’s degree in accounting, you may be able to shave off a year or two of studying.

Associate Degree in Accounting Jobs

accountants working together in an office lounge

Most associate degree in accounting jobs are likely to be entry-level. These same jobs may provide you with the means to work for companies that you wouldn’t otherwise be qualified to work for.

Some of the jobs in the accounting field include:

Accounting Assistant – Common responsibilities for accounting assistants include some office duties, such as answering phones and direct client interaction. Bookkeeping, payroll, invoice collection, and other similar accounting duties are common duties as well.

Accounting Receivable Clerk – Accounting receivable clerks track their companies’ income with regard to payments received from sales. They may prepare and send invoices out to their organizations’ clients. They may also be handle deposits.

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Bookkeeping or Auditing Clerk – Bookkeeping/auditing clerks manage financial records. They review the accuracy of cash flow, assets, and liabilities, bank statements, and transactions and report on their findings.

Payroll Clerk – Payroll clerks are responsible for calculating and disbursing employee salaries. They have to keep accurate documentation of all transactions.

An associates in accounting usually provides the potential for good upward mobility in the accounting field beyond these starting positions.

Associates in Accounting Salary

Associates in Accounting Salary

Since the job titles that accountants hold with this associate’s degree are paraprofessional and career-focused, it stands to reason that there is a potential to earn more down the road with more experience and further education.

Please keep in mind that some employers look for a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to be considered for a few of these positions.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some careers in the accounting field include:

Careers Annual Median Salary
Purchasing Manager $125,940
Administrative Services Manager $98,890
Accountant or Auditor $73,560
Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialist $67,190
Buyer or Purchasing Agent $66,690
Brokerage Clerk $55,270
Payroll Bookkeeper $47,020
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerk $42,410
Underwriting Assistant $42,050
Financial Clerk $40,540

Some companies may prefer you to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting when applying for these jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, earning your bachelor’s, master’s, or even PhD in Accounting and accumulating work experience can help increase your salary.

Further Education – How to Move Up in the Accounting Profession

accounting students listening to a university professor

After you get your associate’s degree in accounting, your next logical step may be to earn your bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Many companies have job vacancies open for accountants, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for accountants is projected to keep on increasing. According to their figures, the demand for bachelor’s in accounting degree holders is expected to increase by 4% over the next decade.

Armed with this degree, you may also be eligible to switch to more growth-oriented lucrative careers.

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With your associate’s degree, you may be able to earn your bachelor’s degree in about half the time it would take you had you enrolled in a 4 year degree right from the get-go. And, since most of the school’s schedules are flexible and accommodating for working students, you should be able to work around your schedule.

Recommended Certification for Accountants

professional accountant receiving a certificate

You can become a Certified Public Accountant or CPA after you pass the state CPA exam. All accountancy state boards require their candidate to hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy to qualify to take the CPA exam.

Also, take note that each state board acts independently of the other, meaning there is no universal CPA license. Essentially, if you want to practice within the borders of a specific state, then you need to be sanctioned by the state board of that particular state.

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The CPA title should greatly boost your income potential and your employability. As a CPA, you may be able to open your own practice or consult for business clients.

Companies and financial firms also seek Certified Public Accountants to create financial plans, audit their financial records, or even manage their financial department.

The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants may also be a useful resource.

Accreditation for an Online Accounting Associates Degree

impressive university campus

Regional accreditation is the self-regulation of colleges and universities to demonstrate that the degrees and credits that they award are up to standards. Regional accreditation is more meticulously rigid than national accreditation.

There is also programmatic accreditation available through these industry-specific boards:

Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) – has been around since 1916, and they have heralded the high standards of business education ever since. They currently have more than 1,700 organizations as members and over 840 business schools that are accredited worldwide.

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Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP)  – was founded in 1988, and they have been accrediting business degree programs at all levels ever since. To date, the ACBSP has accredited over 1,000 campuses around the world. An ACBSP accreditation indicates that an institution has achieved excellence in business education.

Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE) – was founded in 1997 and has been accrediting colleges and universities with business programs of all degree levels ever since. The IACBE currently has more than 230 member institutions in over 20 countries worldwide.

The best accounting programs will have both regional and programmatic accreditation.

Financial Aid for an Associates in Accounting Online

Financial Aid for an Associates in Accounting Online

Students enrolled in an Associate’s Degree in Accounting program may be eligible for federal financial aid. Go to the official FAFSA website to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. There, you can learn whether you are eligible for a loan, a scholarship, or a grant.

You could also apply for college scholarships from your school and look for funding opportunities from private businesses and organizations looking to sponsor students.

Can I Be an Accountant With an Associate’s Degree?

While you may be able to work in the accounting field after earning your associate’s degree, most accountants hold at least a bachelor’s degree.

With an associate’s degree, you should be qualified to work as an accounting assistant, bookkeeping clerk, auditing clerk, or in a similar position.

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However, if you wish to be a full-fledged Certified Public Accountant (CPA), then you need to earn your bachelor’s degree in accounting after completing your associate’s degree. This shouldn’t be a problem since your associate degree should be credited toward earning your bachelor’s in accounting.

How Much Does an Accountant Make With an Associate’s Degree?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an employee with an associate’s degree may earn $56,590 per year.

The salary will depend on the company, the position of the employee, the number of years of experience as well as the expertise of the individual. Generally, the salary of a holder of an associate’s degree in accounting will be higher than employees with only a high school diploma.

Associate's Degree in Accounting

The potential earnings may also increase since the associate degree can help open up future employment opportunities and career growth.

What Can an Associate’s Degree in Accounting Get You?

If the question, is an associates degree in accounting worth anything is still ringing in your ears, then you will be happy to know that the answer is yes for many students.

An accounting associate degree should help you get your foot in the door at a number of companies. In addition to improving your job prospects, it may also lead to an increase in salary over a high school diploma.

What Can an Associate’s Degree in Accounting Get You?

You may also be about half-way toward a bachelor’s degree, which can help you open up more doors and earn even larger paychecks.

I Have an Associates Degree in Accounting Now What?

After earning your associates degree in accounting, the next step is to apply for jobs in the field. Once you land a job and gain more experience in the field, your salary potential should increase.

It may be advisable to continue pursuing your bachelor’s degree in accounting after you get your associates degree since the salary tends to be quite a bit higher for bachelor’s degree holders in this field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for those with a bachelor’s in accounting is $73,560. Impressive!

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Remember that your associate degree may be credited toward a bachelor’s degree, so in essence, you may already be about half-way through your bachelor’s studies after you’ve earned your associate’s in accounting degree.

How Long Does It Take To Get An Accounting Degree?

It takes about two years to earn an associate’s degree in accounting. To get a bachelor’s in accounting, it takes around 4 years, though you can finish in less time with accelerated courses.

accountant working on invoices

How long it takes to get your accounting degree will depend mainly on how many classes you take each semester, if you have existing college credits, or if you enroll in accelerated classes.

Is an Associates Degree in Accounting Worth It?

Yes, an Associates Degree in Accounting is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 5% job growth in business and financial occupations for the next 10 years, faster than the average for all occupations. Common accounting careers include accountant, bookkeeper, auditing clerk, and accounting specialist.

With an associate program in accounting, your earning potential may also be higher than the salaries of employees with only a high school education.

two accountants checking their work in an office

Getting promoted or starting at a company that you weren’t previously qualified for before may make earning your associate’s degree in accounting worth it.

If you’re still wondering if an accounting degree is worth it, check out the career prospects of degree holders. In addition, an associate’s degree can help bring you closer towards completing your bachelor’s degree, which could lead to a CPA title and a higher income.

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Jordan Meeks
Jordan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy and earned her Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and her Bachelor's in Business Administration. Jordan's research focuses on adults returning to college and online degree programs.