What Is an Accounting Certificate?

Accounting certificates are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Get information about both types of programs, including curriculum and career opportunities upon completion. Schools offering Accounting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Types of Accounting Certificates

There are two types of accounting certificates. Undergraduate accounting certificates provide a basic overview of the field. They are intended for students who want to pursue entry-level accounting positions, accounting assistants who want to boost their job skills, and business professionals who want to enhance their knowledge of finance.

There are also post-baccalaureate certificate programs that are designed specifically to prepare students for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. They may also include career-focused courses for individuals who plan to seek professional positions within industry or the public sector once they earn the CPA credential.

Important Facts About Accounting Certificates

Certificate Level Undergraduate Graduate
Prerequisite Education High school diploma or GED Bachelor's degree
Online Availability Available online or on-campus Available online or on-campus
Professional Certification PreparationNone, though voluntary certification like the Certified Bookkeeper credential is available CPA
Continuing EducationNoneRequired to maintain CPA licensure

Accounting Certificate Coursework

In undergraduate certificate programs in accounting, students are required to take introductory level classes in topics such as financial accounting, managerial accounting, accounting computer applications, and federal taxation. Some programs culminate in a final comprehensive exam.

Post-baccalaureate and graduate certificate programs in accounting include advanced accounting coursework so that graduates are ready to take the CPA exam. Students may need to have completed prerequisite financial and managerial accounting courses before they are ready for these high-level classes. Some of the topics student can expect to study include auditing concepts and practices, integrated accounting issues, business law, and governmental accounting. Depending on the program, students are required to complete anywhere between 16 and 50 credits, so the completion time varies considerably.

Career Options

After earning an undergraduate certificate in accounting, individuals are prepared for entry-level accounting positions. They may become bookkeeping, accounting, or auditing clerks. These professionals are responsible for producing financial records for businesses and other organizations. Accounting clerks who work for larger organizations may have specific titles based on their job duties, such as accounts payable clerk or accounts receivable clerk. As of 2015, the median annual salary for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks was $37,250 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also predicted 8% job decline in the field from 2014 to 2024 due to increasing automation in the field.

Those who finish graduate certificate programs often pursue careers as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Accountants who file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission are required to be licensed by their state's Board of Accountancy. To take the exam, candidates need to have completed at least 30 credit hours of coursework beyond a bachelor's degree, and a certificate program can count toward this requirement. From there, they must pass an exam.

Once licensed, CPAs find jobs preparing and examining financial records, as well as ensuring that their clients remain in compliance with governmental financial regulations. They may work for organizations or individuals. The BLS reported that the median annual wage for accountants and auditors was $67,190 per year in 2015, with job opportunities expected to increase 11% from 2014 to 2024.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
      • Bachelor of Science in Accounting

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

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    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

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  • Seton Hall University

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    Popular programs at Seton Hall University:

    • Master

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  • Independence University

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    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

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  • Capella University

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    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

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  • Ashford University

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  • Maryville University

    Maryville University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Maryville University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

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  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Fortis College

    Fortis College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Fortis College:

    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Tennessee: Cookeville
  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

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