With the unsteady economy and record unemployment, many people are realizing the value of continuing their education and breaking into new fields. While some areas of business are suffering losses, the accounting field continues to be in demand. Accounting jobs are in plentiful supply, as many small businesses and large corporations are looking to their bottom line to cut costs and remain solvent. Accounting professionals are responsible for making sure their firms are operating on an efficient basis, complying with all state, local and federal financial guidelines and making sure that taxes are paid accurately and on time.

Many small and large companies are hiring accountants to help them keep afloat. This calculates to a high demand and lucrative salaries for trained accountants. Graduates with a degree in accounting work as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), tax specialists, financial planners, corporate finance specialists, auditors, statisticians and actuaries. Many find positions in healthcare, insurance, education and corporate positions. Getting an online accounting degree is a convenient and affordable way to break into this growing field.

There are a number of online accounting schools available that offer traditional and accelerated degree programs. These schools include traditional brick and mortar universities that offer online courses and accredited universities that are completely in online format. Online accounting programs offer the added convenience of online courses, making this an attractive option for students who want to study toward their degree while working full time. Many online schools allow students to complete their degree without ever attending an in-person class.

Complete a course or your degree at your preferred university, even if its on the other side of the country or the world. Courses can be completed from any location that offers internet access, and classes can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for added convenience. Many students stationed in the military find that the online degree option is the perfect solution for them to complete their studies from anywhere in the world.

In addition to the flexibility and convenience that earning the online accounting degree offers, it is also a more affordable way to complete the studies. Students report saving thousands of dollars by completing their degrees online, allowing more students to seek online degrees and courses to complete their studies. Online degrees often cost a fraction of traditional college and university programs. Many books are offered in electronic format, which translates into lower costs for the student.

Online accountant schools usually offer the online accounting degree at the Associates, Bachelors and Masters level. The accounting degree usually takes two years for the completion of the associates degree, four years for the bachelor of arts degree and two years for the Master of Arts degree. Many online accountant schools offer accelerated programs that can be completed in as little as 18 months. Students may also transfer credits from previous college work to complete the degree faster.

The accounting degree usually requires courses in finance, economics, business management and statistics. Many students break off into more specialized courses such as tax law, benefits and compensation and financial planning. In graduate level programs, online accountant schools offer courses in forensic accounting, actuarial science and corporate accounting. These specialized courses give you the competitive edge needed to compete in the corporate arena, and make you a more attractive candidate for accounting positions. In addition, completing an online degree will give you the tools needed to start an accounting practice or other specialized accounting business.

It is also beneficial for the aspiring accountant to take some courses in computer science to supplement the study. Many accountants are now using the internet and other specialty software to operate their businesses more efficiently, and the successful accountant will have a basic knowledge of various computer programs and software. It is helpful for the student looking to become successful in the accounting field to have knowledge of software such as Microsoft Excel, QuickBooks accounting software and Peachtree accounting software, to name a few.

The perfect candidate for starting a study toward an accounting degree is one who has high mathematical aptitude, is able to interpret numbers quickly and efficiently and is adept at analyzing figures. In addition, the accounting degree candidate has excellent communication skills and is able to interact with people of varying levels of responsibility (upper level executives, assistants, clients, etc.)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for accountants in the United States was $59,430. The lowest ten percent of wage earners earned an average annual salary of $45,900 and the top ten percent earned an average salary of $102,380. These figures are expected to rise as the demand for accounting professionals rises. The starting salary for a recent graduate with a bachelors degree is $48,993, and $49,786 for those holding a master's degree.

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