In a span of two years, students can learn foundational accounting topics with an associate degree. Curriculum blends these principles with general education for preparation toward entry-level positions. This education is available at community colleges and universities.
Advanced topics can be earned after transferring credit to a Bachelor's degree. This may include more skills within financial or managerial accounting. It can also transition toward additional higher education and professional certification in accounting.
Completing an associate degree is geared toward those looking at entry-level accounting positions. Examples include bookkeeper, payroll clerk, and accounting assistant. These positions are available within an organization or as part of an accounting firm.
Are There Online Associate of Accounting Programs?
There are a number of associate programs in accounting available online. Many universities offer these undergraduate studies with full-time or part-time enrollment options. Individuals can also seek various associate degrees at their local community colleges.
Many associate-level programs hold designation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Colleges can gain accreditation after self-review and further oversight from the organization. Over 1,000 business programs have received designation around the world.
Holding accreditation showcases the program's quality and commitment to students. The curriculum must have proper business and accounting content. Schools must hold regional accreditation in order to qualify for ACBSP designation.
Some colleges have specific designation in accounting from the ACBSP. This process is geared toward programs beyond the associate, such as Bachelor's and Master's degrees. Example schools with associate programs include DeVry University and Keiser University.
An alternative organization is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Instead of designating programs directly, business schools are recognized for their excellence. Approximately five percent of schools worldwide have passed rigorous standards. The AACSB has a larger focus on universities and larger accounting programs.
What is the Difference Between Associate in Arts (AA) and Associate in Science (AS)?
There are different types of associate degrees that students may consider. When reviewing programs, there may be associate accounting programs within the arts or sciences. One of the more popular disciplines is the Associate in Applied Science.
The Associate of Science emphasizes math and science courses in the general education curriculum. This provides the best preparation for intermediate topics for a more advanced degree. An arts-based degree typically offers more electives and customization along with accounting and business principles.
When researching associate programs, individuals may find various associate types. Common topics outside of arts and sciences within accounting include the following:
- Associate of Applied Arts or Sciences
- Associate of Applied Business
- Associate of Business Administration
- Associate of General Studies
- Associate of Occupational Studies
Associate of Applied Science Degrees
Individuals looking at a shorter program and immediate employment should consider the Associate of Applied Science (AAS). These are programs built around offering foundational topics and preparation for entry-level positions. Credit is still applicable toward other undergraduate programs.
AAS programs are often available at the community college level. There may be limited availability to complete these courses online. In many cases, there are options for hybrid education featuring online and on-campus experiences. Alternative names are Associate of Applied Arts (AAA) and Associate of Applied Technology (AAT).
Regardless of option, individuals should expect to complete approximately 60 credit hours. This is often distributed through two years of full-time academic work. There may be opportunities to study on a part-time basis and extend study length. This is not recommended for students looking to transition to a Bachelor's degree.
Top Online Programs
The Associate Degree in Business is available both on-campus and online with multiple concentrations. Options to focus studies include Budgeting and Forecasting, Healthcare, and Retail Management. Overall, students can also gain competence in data analysis, supply chain management, and business planning.
61 total credit hours needed to complete curriculum requirements. Students may transition this credit toward a full Bachelor’s degree that requires double the associate requirement. Start times take place every eight weeks to allow for various entry points in the year.
Topics in the program may feature accounting theory, marketing fundamentals, and consumer behavior. Both intermediate-level and managerial accounting topics are in the Budgeting and Forecasting concentration. All students take the Financial Accounting course within the core concepts.
Additional general education includes social sciences and humanities. Students also take two levels of English composition and public speaking. Graduates often move into associate accounting and assistant marketing analyst roles.
Global college offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Accounting. 90 total credit hours needed with two-thirds dedicated to the accounting major. Up to 75 percent of the degree can account for transfer credit. Offers corporate and military tuition reduction.
Students explore the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) when completing accounting solutions. Learn fundamental skills in recording and maintaining accounting information with software. Provides financial statement and payroll preparation and documentation.
Additionally, students solve complex issues within business and gain enhanced reading comprehension. General education offers college-level mathematics and public speaking for presentation and teamwork.
Course distribution is set at 10-week terms. Each course will take approximately 20 hours to complete each week. There are many start times throughout the year for students to consider.
64 total credit hours needed for the Associate of Applied Science in Accounting. Students must maintain 2.25 GPA within their major of study. At least 30 credit hours needed through the university for graduation eligibility.
Students may complete the program within two years. Capability to study on a part-time basis with a blend of online and on-campus courses. Students can start at three different semesters throughout the year.
General education topics include social sciences, arts and humanities, and mathematics. Further studies in spreadsheet software and skills in presenting and reasoning with teammates. Also requires residency to meet with faculty and other students.
Major foundational topics center around financial and managerial accounting. Offers elective option in Fraud Examination, Government/Nonprofit Accounting, and Foundations of Entrepreneurship.
Southern New Hampshire University
The associate degree in accounting is available completely online with no on-campus residencies. Financial and managerial accounting is the main focus along with intermediate accounting skills. Graduates have gone on to become entry-level payroll clerks, bookkeepers, and accounting assistants.
Students gain basic fundamentals in analyzing finances and presenting information to stakeholders. They also add marketing concepts, business systems within information technology, and business law.
Undergraduate programs start in March, May, and June. Over the course of study, students take eight-week modules in six different terms. There are no ACT or SAT test scores required for admission into the associate program.
At least a 2.0 GPA needed for scholarship opportunities. Up to 45 credit hours are transferrable into an associate program. Students can transfer what they have learned into the Bachelor’s degree in accounting.
Top Campus-Based Programs
Northwestern Iowa Community College
The Associate of Applied Science in Accounting offers preparation for entry-level positions. Potential skills include college-level algebra, comprehension, and analytical capabilities. There is an option to specialize in clerical accounting in the first year.
Both years of the program are available on-campus or online. The second year offers a blend of both options. Students enrolling full-time begin in the fall semester. Many semesters are available across the academic year for part-time students.
Introductory topics explore basic composition, oral communication, and human/work relations. Example topics in the second year of study include management and business law. Also provides intermediate accounting skills, spreadsheet development and organization, and personal finance.
Utah Valley University
The Department of Accounting offers the Associate of Science in Accounting. Offering allows students to gain entry-level opportunities or transition toward a Bachelor’s degree. Graduates can enter auditing, tax consulting, and business consulting careers.
60 total credit hours needed across general education and accounting topics. Goals include exploring the latest innovations in accounting and developing working relationships. Accounting courses include macro and microeconomic topics, and business-focused statistics.
2.0 GPA or higher needed for graduation, or 2.5 GPA within business courses. No grade below a C- in business courses accepted. At least a B- needed in Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting, and Spreadsheet Applications.
Requires four semesters with general education and college-level mathematics in the first year. May add emphasis in general accounting or internal auditing with their Bachelor’s degree. Accounting programs accredited by the AACSB.
The Associates of Arts in Accounting degree offers fundamental accounting topics. These skills provide entry to basic accounting jobs, assistant positions, and more. Graduates may also pursue further studies with a Bachelor’s degree.
Students can pursue the associate accounting program at various locations in Florida. These include Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Tallahassee, and Daytona Beach. Keiser University has their main campus location based in Fort Lauderdale.
General education expands upon social sciences, humanities, and economics. Students also gain competency in computer applications and public speaking. These categories are important for analyzing and presenting financial information.
Major courses include two levels of accounting principles and marketing basics. Students must receive a C grade or higher in some accounting-specific courses. A total of 60 credit hours needed to complete the associate program.
Top Associate of Accounting Courses
General education studies building on human behavior and decision making. Students use these skills to impact accounting procedures and various career roles. Roles may feature consulting or presenting findings to management. Subjects explored include psychology, history, social work, and more.
College-level business algebra and calculus used for various accounting roles. Helpful in duties such as creating financial statements and maintaining payroll.
Strong composition skills needed when creating detailed reports and communicating with others. Many associate degrees must offer writing and oral presentation courses. This is generally required within the general education curriculum.
Spreadsheets and Databases
Tools needed to complete accounting tasks feature spreadsheet and database applications. This may include QuickBooks, Sage Business, and Microsoft Excel. Students should gain further comfortability in running and organization information in the cloud.
Students explore rules and regulations that organizations must follow to stay compliant. Often entry-level courses that focus on reviewing cases in accounting fraud and bankruptcy. Emphasizes financial rules, underwriting, and debt organization.
Reviews financial transactions in an organization for various activities. Duties include preparing balance sheets and authenticating its cash flow. Students often explore the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) in this course.
Communicates financial information to different segments of an organization. Typical skills include optimizing organizational costs and developing strategies for success. Skills are applicable to many positions in the private and public sector.
Examines and verifies financial statements within an organization. Courses look into the different types of auditing processes. This can include internal audits within the organization or third-party reviews. Auditing takes place within private sector and government opportunities.
Focuses on taxation topics from the Internal Revenue Service related to the business. Explores impacts this may have on transactions, legal obligations, and local infrastructure. Also looks at differences when compared to general income tax.
Strategies how to sell or promote the goods and services that an organization offers. Principles look at effective practices and pricing options depending on the client. Skills include identifying target audiences and how to gain an advantage among competition.
Typical Admission Requirements
Individuals can enter into an associate program with a high school diploma. Most schools recommend a 2.0 GPA with some foundational business courses. Ideal requirements include graduating within top of the class and high testing scores.
Schools may offer the opportunity to enter into the program with conditional admittance. This is available to those that have lower grades or test scores than the set requirements. Applicants may complete tests or further courses to transition to full admittance.
General education varies depending on the school selected by the student. Topics often cover various economics, social sciences, and humanities. Students can often transfer in college-level credits at this level.
What Can You Do With This Degree?
Upon completion of the associate degree, graduate have a number of options to consider. When pursuing an associate within the arts or sciences, additional education is expected. Individuals may transition what they have completed to a Bachelor’s degree. This may be done at the same college or equivalent accepting this credit.
Holding an associate degree in accounting opens up various undergraduate business degrees. For example, students may consider a business administration discipline instead of accounting. Students should always consider what courses will transfer into the program they are going to pursue.
The Associate of Applied Science or Business is generally offered at community colleges. These programs are geared for those looking toward a professional career after receiving the degree. Example job roles include assistant positions, bookkeeping, payroll, and account collection.
Receiving an AAS degree has some benefits over a traditional Bachelor’s degree. It requires less time to become prepared for an accounting career with an average of two years. However, job potential is limited in comparison. There is more competition with entry-level and assistant business positions.
Certain degrees are tailored for different students, but options remain open. It is possible to complete any type of degree and earn an entry-level accounting position. With professional experience and an associate degree, there may be some potential to gain graduate education in the future.
Career Goals and Job Titles for This Degree
Associate degrees provide foundational business and accounting skills and theory. This can be applied to many entry-level accounting positions in various organizations. Students may consider working in the public sector, nonprofit organization, or local private business. Advanced positions at larger companies and accounting firms often requires additional education and professional experience.
Common positions include accounting assistants and accounting clerks. These opportunities offer basic tasks, such as verifying or processing business transactions. They may be required to develop financial statements or resolve any transaction issues with clients or consumers.
Assistants generally work with experienced or senior accounting positions. They are often tasked with duties such as scheduling meetings or preparing documents and presentations. Additionally, they may also complete data entry and analysis tasks that impact decisions for higher-level positions.
Bookkeeping duties specifically focus on the documentation of finances. This includes processing and verifying transactions, creating financial statements, and filling out tax forms. It is imperative for professionals in this position to be competent with accounting software.
Payroll specialists ensure that salary information is accurate and distributed correctly. Duties may include handling any payment issues and verifying working hours on commission or bonus potential. Payroll opportunities can be internal with the organization or outsourced to an accounting firm.
In general, associate degree graduates can expect entry-level positions with little to no prior professional experience. Internships are often not part of these programs. Instead, graduates gain employment and can later complete higher education for higher opportunities or specialty options, such as auditing and security.
How Much Can You Expect to Make With This Degree?
Gaining an associate degree improves upon average salaries compared to professionals with high school diplomas. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for accounting positions with little to no college experience is at $41,230. These jobs are generally offered on a per-hour basis ranging between $15 to $20 over a traditional 40-hour workweek.
In order to receive these jobs, associate degrees or entry-level certification showcases proper education. This includes having the computer skills necessary to complete accounting tasks or use proper applications. Strong writing and communication skills are needed for most accounting jobs.
Between 2019 to 2029, entry-level positions are expected to drop by six percent across the country. This is due to technological innovations completing basic accounting tasks. Organizations are also looking for professionals that have technical and analytical skills for financial solutions and decision making.
Students pursuing an associate program can still break into entry-level accounting positions. It is recommended to complete a full undergraduate degree to gain advanced or niche skills that create a more valuable candidate. Graduate certifications may also be available for those completing associate degrees with high academic merit.
Salaries Across the United States
The highest-paying opportunities for entry-level accounting positions are concentrated in the Northeast. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics lists Washington DC, Massachusetts, and Connecticut as the top three salary locations. Annual mean wage is approximately at $49,000 or higher, with the DC area nearly reaching $56,000.
When looking at metropolitan areas, the Washington DC location is estimated at $50,590 for the average salary. This ranks among the top 10 metropolitan locations. San Francisco and San Jose are the top between $54,000 and $55,000 annually.
In terms of employment opportunities, California has the largest accounting workers represented with over 180,000 positions. Texas and New York are the following states that are over the six-figure mark with 131,870 and 101,030 workers respectively. Florida is the fourth-highest state with approximately 94,230 workers in the field.