Accounting is the process of preparation, presentation and interpretation of financial information. An accountant is responsible for collecting, sorting, summarising and presenting financial data, as well as helping organisations and individuals to make decisions about how their finances are utilised. Businesses will normally work with an accountant when reporting their income, and paying their taxes. You will learn the basics of accounting, as well as how to use the newer technologies to optimise your work.
Highlighted courses and degrees in accounting
An undergraduate degree will give you a foundation knowledge of accounting. You will explore the roles of an accountant, and look at how they determine financial stability, wealth, profitability and liquidity. You will gain an understanding of working as a self-employed accountant, as well as working within a corporate organisation.
Your accounting degree will normally be taught mainly through lectures and seminars. You may be given opportunities to take part in group projects, which will give you an insight into how you may deal with a client or account in a work environment. Some universities may offer you the option of a work placement year, but this is not guaranteed.
Depending on where you choose to study, you may be able to specialise towards the end of your degree. This specialisation can help you to explore which areas of accounting you prefer, and potentially influence your future career path. Common specialisations include:
If your degree requires you to write a dissertation, this will give you an opportunity to further research an area of interest within accounting.
The accreditation gained from an accounting degree will depend on where you choose to study, and your specific course. Generally, you can expect to gain a Bachelor of Science, but your course might award a Bachelor of the Arts. This will be influenced by the content of your course. Different countries can also sometimes have different accreditation systems.
As well as gaining your degree, you will most likely also be required to gain some extra professional accounting qualifications before you can become a certified accountant. Some degrees include these certifications, but not all. Two examples of the bodies who accredit degrees and certify accountants are the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).
Typically, an undergraduate degree in accounting will take three to four years. Foundation degrees, diplomas and certificates can last up to two years when studied full-time.
Once you have completed your undergraduate degree, you can either seek employment in your chosen field or further your studies. Continuation of your studies could be in the form of a postgraduate degree, such as a masters, an MBA, or a PhD, or a graduate diploma or certificate. As well as this, you can go on to gain professional qualifications in accounting and finance.
The entry requirements for a degree in accounting will depend on where you choose to study, and your specific choice of course. Requirements can vary greatly at each institution. Some universities may require you to sit an entrance exam, and some may rely on previous exam results. Some universities may prefer you to have studied certain subjects, and others may consider previous relevant work experience.
You should check each institution to see what entry requirements they have for their accounting programmes.
If you do not meet the entry requirements you may want to consider a pathway course.
Tuition fees for international students are not fixed. This means that they can vary from institution to institution. You should make sure that you are aware of how much your course will cost you.
You may be eligible for a scholarship or funding. This could be awarded by your institution, or by a separate funding body. For more information, visit our scholarships and funding section.
Accounting graduates will be able to find work in either the private or public sectors, in a wide range of fields. Many graduates choose to work in roles related to business accounting, such as human resources, financial management and numerical clerkship. As well as these roles, you could take traineeships in accounting and auditing firms as part of your path to becoming an accountant.
Your transferable skills such as analytical thinking, financial competency and accuracy, coupled with your knowledge of business practices and structure mean that you will also be able to find work in other areas. Popular destinations outside of accounting include consultancy work, banker, purchasing manager, budget analyst and risk management.
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