How Do I Start a Career in Accounting?


That’s an easy one – go to school. Though if you can’t, there is still another way.


It is possible to simply learn accounting on your own by using a site such as this one or a textbook, but accredited schools usually offer you the best training experience. They also certify your learning.


Certificates versus Degrees. A degree or a certificate is merely that – a document that verifies your training in various areas and certifies your learning. A certificate is similar to a degree, since you receive a document that looks like a diploma and it certifies your learning. Certificates, however, do not require nearly as many courses as degrees do. Most community colleges or junior colleges allow students to earn certificates. They are also sometimes available from 4-year colleges and universities.


There are several benefits associated with accounting certificates:

·         The courses you take that “count” in the certificate program usually “count” toward the next certificate or degree you complete. In other words, you are able to pick up the certificates as you work your way through an Associate Degree program, without having to take any additional courses at all.

·         Each certificate that you complete adds an additional line to your resume and enhances your professional image. Even if you complete an associate or a bachelor’s degree, your resume will still be more impressive if it lists one or more certificates along with your degree.

·         Since they can be completed quickly, you will be adding lines to your resume that can help you land a job in the field as you work toward the next certificate or toward your Associate’s Degree. Experience in an office can really enhance your learning, and that experience also adds another valuable line to your resume.

·         Some students may find that one or more of our certificates are “enough” to reach their employment goals, and this can save them the time and money it would take to complete the associate’s degree. (It is always advisable, though, to complete as much education as you can, since more education usually results in higher income!)


Professional Certification. Students who cannot go to a school because of finances or time constraints can use professional certifications to document their learning. Even those who do complete certificate or degree programs are advised to consider professional. Two professional organizations, the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers ( and the American Payroll Association (, offer certification programs for bookkeepers and payroll professionals. Intuit, the publisher of QuickBooks, also certifies users of the QuickBooks accounting program. These programs do not require a college degree, but a fee is charged for the required study materials and tests. The free resources on this site can help you to learn enough to become certified.

There are no two ways about it -- a job applicant with academic credentials from an accredited college (a certificate or an Associate’s Degree) and who is also professionally certified, is sure to receive attention that other applicants will not!

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