Managerial Accounting Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's & Online Study

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What kind of job can you get with an associate's or bachelor's degree in managerial accounting? Find out degree program requirements, online options and info on courses and managerial accounting training programs.
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Studying Managerial Accounting: Degrees at a Glance

Managerial accountants use their knowledge of accountancy practices to advise business executives. Managerial accounting involves the development of information that primarily supports a company's management team, rather than creditors or shareholders. Employers want employees who understand the areas of financial management and demonstrate a high level of accounting knowledge.

Colleges and universities generally offer degree programs in accounting with managerial accounting courses or certificate options. An associate's degree program prepares graduates for entry-level financial support occupations. A bachelor's degree program offers the foundation to pursue accounting, cost estimation, or managerial accounting positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals strong job growth for cost estimators, who could expect a 36% increase in jobs over the 2010-2020 decade (www.bls.gov).

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? People seeking entry-level financial support positions Individuals seeking careers as accountants or auditors
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Bookkeeping, accounting, or auditing clerk ($35,000)*
- Financial clerk ($31,000)*
- Cost estimator ($59,000)*
- Accountant or auditor ($63,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Approximately 60 credits - Roughly 120 credits
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's Degree in Accounting

Entry-level accounting or financial support positions require candidates with knowledge of the regulations and practices that govern the field. An associate's degree program offers training in financial compliance, taxes, payroll, and managerial accounting. Programs emphasize the development of strategic decision-making, reporting procedures, and professional standards. You'll take a range of courses in law, technology, and economics. Some programs offer an optional certificate specifically in managerial accounting within the associate's program. You may also have the option of specializing in financial, payroll, or tax accounting.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Programs offer a breadth of knowledge in business and finance; employers in industries outside finance might find this appealing
  • Bookkeeping, accounting, or auditing clerks could expect 14% job growth over the 2010-2020 decade*
  • Programs provide flexibility through courses in individual and business accounting, payroll, and compliance, which might make a range of positions available

Cons

  • It will take several years of further education and experience to make accountancy positions available to you
  • Some positions paid relatively low salaries; bookkeeping, accounting, or auditing clerks earned a median annual salary of $35,000**
  • Access to some value-added credentials may require higher education

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010-2020 projections), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Courses and Requirements

A typical associate's degree program offers a basic education in business and finance. Schools design programs to address the federal regulations, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, and the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, which establish the guidelines for accounting practices. You may take courses on the following topics:

  • Macroeconomics
  • Accounting software
  • Cost accounting
  • Management principles
  • Federal income tax
  • Business law
  • Individual tax procedures

Online Degree Info

An online accounting degree program delivers a complete online learning experience. Schools offer coursework similar to traditional programs and provide managerial accounting courses. You'll take courses in federal taxes, cost accounting, and advanced spreadsheet topics. Many programs cater to working adults or those seeking career changes and deliver courses through an accelerated program.

Stand Out with This Degree

Employers may prefer candidates with some college education for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerk occupations. In addition, financial clerks working with brokerage firms may also need collegiate training. Validating your skills and seeking relevant experience might improve your marketability. Following are a couple of steps you can take to stand out.

  • Consider pursuing an appropriate certification. The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers confers the Certified Bookkeeper credential, which demonstrates your understanding of fraud prevention, depreciation, payroll, and internal controls. This credential requires two years of relevant experience.
  • Look for internship opportunities that offer exposure to entry-level financial occupations. Taking a carefully selected internship can provide valuable practical experience while in school, and it can also help meet experience requirements for certification.

Bachelor's Degree in Managerial Accounting

The bachelor's degree program prepares students for managerial accounting careers through coursework in business, finance, and operations management. Programs emphasize professional studies in law, business solutions, and information technology. As you would with an associate's degree program, you may find programs that offer managerial accounting coursework, although some schools confer a degree in managerial accounting. Courses are usually distributed among electives, accounting core, and internship opportunities.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Positions accessible with bachelor's degree paid relatively competitive salaries; accountants and auditors earned a mean annual wage of $63,000*
  • Cost estimators could expect a 36% increase in job growth over the 2010-2020 decade**
  • Many programs facilitate transfer to a master's degree program, which can open additional job opportunities

Cons

  • Employers may prefer candidates with master's degrees in business administration
  • You might face stiff competition for positions at prestigious accounting firms
  • Pursuing your Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential will extend your training time

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010-2020 projections).

Courses and Requirements

The bachelor's degree program takes a broad approach to the art of accountancy. Some programs mix forensic accounting courses with accounting information systems topics. You'll learn the professional standards employed by Certified Public Accountants and explore common technologies used in the industry. Many programs offer elective courses in auditing, government, or non-profit accounting, to name a few. You can expect to take courses in financial management, operations management, organizational behavior, marketing, auditing concepts, managerial accounting, and process planning.

Online Degree Info

An online bachelor's degree program establishes the same level of professionalism through courses similar to campus-based programs. A typical online program develops an understanding of advanced auditing and accounting practices, managerial accounting, and information systems. You may complete a capstone project and take courses in statistics, international accounting, and financial reporting.

Stand Out with This Degree

A large percentage of accountants seek the CPA license administered by the American Institute of CPAs, especially those who file Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reports. Managerial accounting professionals required by their employers to submit reports to the SEC must obtain CPA licensing. Inquiring about CPA preparation courses at your school might better prepare you for the examination.

In addition to credentialing, obtaining practical experience in a business environment might satisfy entry-level experience requirements preferred by employers. Participating in internships, co-operative work experiences or capstone projects will help you synthesize the knowledge gained in the classroom.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Managerial Accountancy
      • Bachelor: Tax Accountancy
      • Bachelor: Auditing-Forensic Accountancy
      • Bachelor: Accounting
      • BSBA - Investment
      • Bachelor: Public-General Accountancy
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA: Accounting
      • BA: Business Administration - Management
      • BA: Business Administration - Logistics
      • BA: Business Administration - Marketing
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Brenau University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor in Business Adminstration - Accounting
      • Bachelor in Business Adminstration - Financial Economics
      • Bachelor in Business Adminstration
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
  • Campus and Online Programs
    5. South College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Administration with a Concentration in Accounting
      • Bachelor of Business Administration
  • Campus and Online Programs
    6. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Music Business
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Regent University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Accounting
      • Bachelor of Science in Business - Accounting
      • Bachelor of Science in Business
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Business
      • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies
      • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Business
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Accounting
      • BS - Business Management
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Colorado Christian University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Accounting, B.S.
      • Business Administration, B.S.
      • Business Administration, B.S. - Emphasis in International Business
  • Stevens Point, WI

    University of Wisconsin

Featured Schools

Purdue University Global

  • Bachelor: Managerial Accountancy
  • Bachelor: Tax Accountancy
  • Bachelor: Auditing-Forensic Accountancy

Which subject are you interested in?

Saint Leo University

  • BA: Accounting
  • BA: Business Administration - Management
  • BA: Business Administration - Logistics

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Brenau University

  • Bachelor in Business Adminstration - Accounting
  • Bachelor in Business Adminstration - Financial Economics
  • Bachelor in Business Adminstration

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Grand Canyon University

  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education

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South College

  • Bachelor of Business Administration with a Concentration in Accounting
  • Bachelor of Business Administration

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Full Sail University

  • B.S. - Music Business

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Regent University

  • Bachelor of Science in Accounting
  • Bachelor of Science in Business - Accounting
  • Bachelor of Science in Business

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Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Accounting
  • BS - Business Management

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