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How much school do you need to be an accountant?


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Alex’s Answer

Hi Haley,

I'll have to echo Dawn and say it really depends on the career path that you choose. If you want to go into public accounting and obtain a CPA license I would say that it typically takes about five years (depending on any college credits obtained in high school). The education requirement for most states, in regards to obtaining a CPA license, is typically 150 credit hours which is usually obtained in one of two ways. Some obtain their Bachelor's degree (120 credit hours) and then complete a Master's degree which is another 30 credit hours, while others may have a double major in their Bachelor's program to achieve 150 hours. Some of it depends on the school as well and the number of classes that they offer at the undergraduate level. The reason for this being that the CPA license requires that a certain number of your courses be accounting related, which may or may not all be offered in your undergraduate program.

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Dawn’s Answer

Depending upon your level of dedication, an accounting major can take the following time to complete: Associate's degree programs, which provide entry-level opportunity, usually take two years. A bachelor's degree program generally takes four years. Master's degree programs and MBAs generally require one-to-two years.

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Paul’s Answer

Hi Haley,

To answer your question as directly as possible, a bachelor's degree would be necessary, if not, very important for advancement in the field, but it all depends on where you would like to start from. If you wanted to take on an Accounts Payable clerk role, then some positions may not actually require a bachelor's degree and give you the necessary experience to advance onto an accounting role.

A bachelor's degree will essentially accelerate your career as you'll most likely land a job in either industry accounting or public accounting. Furthermore, a master's degree in accounting or becoming a (CPA) certified public accountant is some other higher forms of education that can also accelerate your career later on. So it all depends on where you would like to start off your accounting career. By no means is a bachelor's degree absolutely necessary - it definitely helps - but like with many other things, not necessary. I wish you the best - good luck!

Sincerely,

Paul

Paul recommends the following next steps:

Look into the job requirements of a Accounts Payable clerk
Research the difference between industry/private accounting and public accounting
Find out what a CPA and entails

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John’s Answer

It will depends on your career path and what you want to accomplish. I would recommend you to obtain at least a bachelor degree. Depending on your employer, you might need to obtain a master degree or certification for career advancement. The most known accounting certification is the CPA, but there are other specialized accounting certifications, such as, CMA (Certified Management Accountant), CIA (Certified Internal Auditor), and CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner).

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Michelle’s Answer

Hi Haley,

If you want to be an accountant, at minimum, I recommend a 4 year program bachelor's degree in Accountancy. Most accounting roles do require a college degree. Depending on your future career goals, a Master's degree or additional schooling might be required to meet the requirements to sit for the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) license. This is a valuable credential that will increase your marketability in the job pool. Some people even go ahead and pursue a PhD in Accounting and that is usually 5 years long. Many PhDs go ahead and become professors or do research. If this is an interest of yours, you will need additional schooling.

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Megan’s Answer

Haley,

This is a great question! I am currently finishing up my Masters in Accountancy. To receive this it required an undergrad degree (4 years) and the Masters program I am in takes 1 year. I was able to complete both of these degrees at the same school. To take the CPA exam you need 150 credit hours which I accumulated through receiving my undergrad and masters degree but some of my friends doubled majored or majored and minored during their undergrad to hit the 150 credit hours.

I hope this helps!

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Bill’s Answer

To be offered a full time position at a big 4 professional services firm for example, you will generally need a bachelor's degree to meet the minimum educational requirements. That said, in order to get your CPA license, which is required to advance at least in the audit practice, you will need 150 credits to get licensed, which generally requires additional schooling on top of the 4 year bachelor's degree. Some professionals obtain master's degrees or MBAs to satisfy this requirement.

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Tony’s Answer

Typically, the biggest requirement for being an accountant is to obtain your CPA license. However, to obtain this license, you would need to fulfill the requirements, which typically includes completing a certain number of credits at a college. Check with your state CPA guidelines to make sure you can fulfill these requirements and ensure that you can sit for the CPA exam.


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Andrew’s Answer

Undergraduate degree in Finance, Accounting, Business Administration, or even Economics.

If the major you choose is not specifically accounting, I would suggest taking accounting courses as your optional ones.

If you're wanting to climb the ranks in any company, and especially and accounting firm, an undergraduate degree would be the minimum.

If you want to distinguish yourself further, I would suggest doing a dual undergrad/grad program for accounting where you end up with your Masters at the end of the process.

Then to distinguish even further, go for your CPA.

Andrew recommends the following next steps:

Undergraduate degree in Finance, Accounting, Business Administration, or even Economics

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Cody’s Answer

This depends on what type of accountant you would like to be. At the bare minimum, you should strive to get your bachelors degree. And then from there, if you want to become a CPA, you will need some higher-level education credits in order to be able to obtain your CPA License. In addition to the additional credits, you will need to sit for four parts of the CPA exam. You don't necessarily have to get your masters as you only need a specific amount of credits in order to sit for the CPA exam.

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Cole’s Answer

I'd advise a bachelor's at least, but a master's will be make you more competitive. A well-rounded and rigorous resume is very important too.

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Zoe’s Answer

Hi Haley,

The Accounting profession definitely requires a solid foundation in Accounting knowledge. However, don't be discouraged if your school doesn't offer enough courses or you do not have access to a degree program specific to Accounting. There are many outside resources such as online college courses and CPA review courses you can take to get your credentials. Hope this helps!

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Zachary’s Answer

Hi Haley -

Typically to be an accountant you would try to get a professional license (in the United States it is a "CPA"). The requirements to obtain this license vary by each state, but usually involve a certain amount of course work at an accredited university (4 - 5 years) as well as rigorous accounting exams.

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Odochi’s Answer

An entry level accounting position will require a bachelor's degree in accounting, which typically takes 4 years to complete. Advancement in the filed may require certification (i.e. Certified Public Accountant) and/or a master's degree.

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Kyle’s Answer

Hi there. To start a career as an accountant you need to at least graduate college with a bachelor's degree.

In order to advance your career (promotions) you will need to get a masters degree (one more year of school) in accounting or taxation. Also, you will need to become a certified public accountant (CPA). This consists of passing 4 parts of the CPA exam, having work experience and enough credit hours.

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Adam’s Answer

Both Dawn and Alex are correct, but also keep in mind any college credit you may have earned from high school. AP or IB classes, if accepted by your university for credit, can and do count towards your 150 hours. I had over 20 hours from APs in high school, and I graduated from undergrad with over 152 hours WITHOUT having to add on a second major. If you are worried about having to add on classes or a major or another year of school, know that hitting the mandatory 150 hours can be done in four years.

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Rachel’s Answer

Hey! At a university that goes by semesters, you usually can complete a degree in Accounting in four years, but if you go to a university that goes by the quarter system, it usually takes 4-4.5 years because you need more credits to be eligible to take the CPA tests.

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Lauren’s Answer

Hi Haley,

The level of schooling will largely depend on what type of career interests you most. In addition, if you want to become a CPA, the requirements will vary by state. In the most general terms, you'll need to earn a bachelors degree in Accounting in order to obtain an entry level role. From there, if you are interested in advancing in the career you may need additional accounting credit hours beyond a bachelors and potentially a masters degree in order to obtain promotions or earn the CPA license.

Thanks,

Lauren

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Yunqing (Meredith)’s Answer

You need to a bachelor's degree to ba a CPA. Depending on the states, some states needs a master's degree.

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Jennie’s Answer

Hi Haley, I can give you my personal experience, as I came to accounting later in life. I was an Economics major in college, which definitely helped, but I still needed additional accounting courses in order to become a CPA. I REALLY recommend taking the CPA route if you're interested in accounting. In order to become a CPA in Michigan, you need a Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, as well as the following:

Method 1: Earn a master’s degree in accounting or business administration with:
12 semester hours of graduate level accounting courses (not to include information systems or tax courses)

Method 2: Complete an academic program including the following:
30 semester hours of accounting courses (Only 6 semester hours may be in taxation)
39 additional semester hours, with at least 3 semester hours but not more than 12 semester hours in no fewer than 5 of the following subject
areas: (Economics, Business law, Finance, Ethics, Marketing, Management, Statistics, Taxation, Business policy)

Take the Uniform CPA exam (I would recommend Becker or another CPA prep course

Gain the Necessary Experience - 1 year or 2000 hours, verified by a licensed CPA

Different states have different requirements. I have a license in CA, it's pretty much the same. CA requires an additional Ethics exam in order to be licensed.

I wish you the best in your career!

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