written by: Sylvia Cochran•edited by: Jacqueline Chinappi•updated: 12/8/2011
Do online accounting associate's degree benefits outweigh possible negatives? Earning an accredited degree via distance learning is becoming so popular that it is now commonplace for a wide array of fields. Does popularity extend to an accounting education and is a two-year degree a good investment?
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Value of an Associate's Degree in Accounting
Students find that an accounting associate’s degree benefits those with a talent for numbers. It offers an outlook for a stable career – the Occupational Outlook Handbook refers to it as “one of the largest growth occupations in the economy"(1) -- that is likely to offer employment opportunities wherever the successful graduate lives. No matter the financial health of a company or individual, the odds are good that someone needs to sit down and pore over income and expense figures. This creates a tremendous amount of growth potential for the accounting profession as well as ancillary fields, such as tax accounting, financial analysis, investment planning, and auditing.
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The demand for qualified accounting employees led to the creation of various online programs in the field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that the minimum education required is a high school degree, although advanced training is now the premier means of being and remaining competitive. Students eager to obtain an accredited degree online may do so in a specialized field -- such as general accounting and tax preparation -- or they may choose a general education in the field that provides a broad overview of various practices.
Since the majority of activities in learning programs involve the manipulation of numbers and generation of spreadsheets, an online venue is the perfect means for pursuing this kind of education. This realization has given rise to the creation of accredited degrees that allows graduates entry into a variety of accounting settings after graduation. It has also spawned the creation of associate degrees for those just starting out in their academic and professional careers.
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Short Term Value
There is little doubt that an advanced degree in this field will go further than a two year education, but the savvy high school graduate will be smart to check it out first, nonetheless. Four-year degrees are not a requirement and due to the on-the-job training most entry-level positions provide, there is likely not a need for the baccalaureate degree for the sake of gaining a foothold in the profession.
The short term value of a two-year distance learning education is indisputable. Newly minted college freshmen can be saving themselves a lot of money opting for an accredited degree online versus visiting an actual brick and mortar university.
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Accounting for Long Term Benefits
In the long term, an online accounting associate's degree benefits graduates who want to hit the ground running and obtain an entry level position early on in their careers. This gives them a two year head-start versus students who forego the two-year degree and instead opt for a four year bachelor’s degree instead.
As associate degree holders progress and later on go back to finish an accredited four year degree – online or off -- they are already working in their chosen fields. There they may benefit from employer-paid tuition reimbursements. Moreover, they also find that rather than searching for an entry-level accounting position with a newly attained four year degree, their bachelor’s degree may actually advance them to midlevel management.