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What is Accounting?

An accountant is a business professional who works with the finances for a business or an individual. Their primary work is found with spreadsheets that detail the income and expenses from transactions, taxation, and investments. While their work is most often conducted in a formal business environment, many work as traveling consultants, though these days many are surely conducting their work remotely.

There are also accountants who perform somewhat alternative tasks in the business community. Some are employed in IT departments, where they apply their keen attention to detail to internal audits. Others work with attorneys or law enforcement as forensic accountants who look for instances of tax evasion, money laundering, or other financial wrongdoing.

The accounting profession is known to have one of the most difficult to attain credentials, the Certified Public Accountant license. But accountants can also earn a variety of other certifications to match their desired professional specialty. However, CPAs are the only accountants who are qualified to sign tax documents and represent their clients to the IRS, as well as being the most highly desired accountants for internal audits.

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Online Accounting Education in Indiana

Indiana has a diversified economy that spans many industries. They may be well known for their corn fields, but Indiana is also home to manufacturing, finance, real estate, and many other industries. The glue that holds all of these varied fields together is the same, though. Accountants are needed to tally the numbers, audit the books, and assess the IT resources to root out trouble and to maximize profits.

Since accounting is so vital to the state's economy, there is a great need for trained accounting professionals. To meet this demand, Indiana's colleges and universities have risen to the challenge of providing the state with the best prepared accountancy professionals possible. The state has degree and certification programs for all levels of accountancy. There are associate degrees for entry-level bookkeepers or other professionals all the way through top MBA or MS in accountancy programs.

Indiana's economy is led by manufacturing, so some of their accounting programs may be geared toward preparing students for that industry. However, many students may have career aspirations a bit farther north in Chicago, where finance rules the Loop. Indiana's professional degree programs are available to prepare students for success in the Windy City, too. In fact, many of Chicago's top financial wizards began with degrees from Indiana University, Purdue, and Notre Dame, among other fine institutions of higher learning.

Students who wish to remain in state will find that their college's accounting program can also prepare them for the CPA examination. Their academic advisers are keen to steer students toward a path that will lead to licensure. Since students may need coursework above and beyond their undergraduate courses, Indiana's academic advisers will be sure to advise students on the best path to success. There are even a number of top-ranked MBA or accountancy master’s degree programs available in Indiana.

Online Associate Degree in Accounting (AA)

Students who pursue an associate accounting degree can start their career as bookkeepers. A two-year accounting degree from a community college will not qualify a person for the CPA examination, but businesses still highly value accounting skills for their workers. An accounting degree can help them land a position in management where those skills will help with tracking inventory, payroll expenses, and other matters of business.

An associate accounting degree is also beneficial to one's long-term academic goals. This degree also includes the core college curriculum that everyone needs to complete a bachelor’s degree. When students add on accounting courses, they are prepared to continue with a bachelor’s business degree, a bachelor’s accounting degree, or other similar degrees. Another advantage of an associate degree is the fact that community college credits are typically much more affordable than those from a four-year institution. Thus, starting a college education with two years in a community college is a prudent fiscal choice for any future accountant.

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Online Bachelor's Degree in Accounting (B.Acy.)

A student who has worked through an undergraduate accounting degree will be off to a terrific start in the business world. Their degree means they have completed most, or all, of the courses required by their state's Board of Accountancy. Once they have satisfied their Board's requirements, they can sit for all or part of the CPA examination, one of the most difficult professional examinations available.

The bachelor's accounting degree also opens up other doors. Many professional certifications require a bachelor's accounting degree from an accredited college or university, and employers prefer a bachelor's degree when hiring. Employers are more eager to hire an accountant or bookkeeper with a four-year degree than one with less. Depending on other coursework and experience, a bachelor's accounting degree may also open doors to work in an information technology department or in some other business capacity. Many financial analysts have a background in accounting, as do investment banking professionals.

Online Master's Degree in Accounting (M.Acy.)

In order to reach one's top potential in business, a master’s accounting degree is all but required. Another option is an MBA with an accounting concentration. Yet a third, and very potent, option is a dual MBA with a master’s in accountancy. Any of these options will surely help any business professional reach higher highs, including an office in the C-suites.

Since most state Boards of Accountancy require more courses than comprise a typical undergraduate accounting degree, it's wise for students to go ahead and work on their master’s accounting degrees. The added coursework will help them prepare for the CPA examination while also boosting their resumes. Since the CPA exam is one of the most difficult professional exams, students who are unable to pass all four parts may still be able to complete their master’s degree and have very successful business careers. A master’s accounting degree will also be very helpful when it comes to earning other professional credentials.

Online PhD Degree in Accounting (D.Acy.)

While the business community doesn't place a very high value on a PhD or doctorate in accounting, those who are passionate for the subject are still encouraged to pursue this lofty academic goal. In the course of a PhD in accountancy, students will complete coursework that delves deeper into the subject than they've ever gone before. Then, their dissertation will enable them to write a research paper that dives deep into a very specific area in the field of accounting.

Once completed, a PhD in accounting can help a professional land a top position with consulting firms, think tanks, and corporations. Such dedication to research and intellectual rigor can be an asset to many top firms. In fact, accounting dissertations can tackle vital topics such as carbon emissions, stock price management, and the cost of green energy technology. Of course, with a PhD in accounting, students can easily pursue a career in academia. Their doctorate degree will help them land a tenure track position where they can teach or continue their research.

CPA Exam Education Requirements in Indiana

Prior to taking your CPA exam and becoming a certified public accountant, you’ll need to satisfy the educational requirements set by the Indiana Board of Accountancy. Before sitting for the Uniform CPA test, potential candidates must obtain a Bachelor’s degree (at minimum), though you can choose to first obtain an associate degree, which will help you by answering any questions you have about the profession, letting you complete a degree before continuing to learn at a higher level, and giving you additional chances for work experience. Students must also complete 150 credit hours at a college or university accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

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Always check for accreditation. If you are taking online courses at a school from out of state in the U.S., note that it should be accredited by one of the following organizations:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools--Commission on Colleges
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges-Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges-Commission for Senior Colleges

Indiana requires CPA candidates to obtain their credit requirements in one of two ways.

Hold a graduate/master's degree with the following requirements met:

24 credit hours logged in undergraduate accounting courses OR 15 credit hours in a graduate accounting courses, including:

  • Taxation
  • Financial accounting
  • Consulting
  • Managerial accounting

24 credit hours logged in an undergraduate or graduate business or economics program, with general content including:

  • 6 credit hours or fewer in business and tax law
  • 6 credit hours or fewer in technology or computer science

Hold a bachelor’s degree with the following requirements met:

24 credit hours logged in undergraduate or graduate accounting courses that center on:

  • Taxation
  • Financial accounting
  • Consulting
  • Managerial accounting

24 credit hours logged in undergraduate or graduate accounting courses in which you'll study:

  • 6 credit hours or fewer in business and tax law
  • 6 credit hours or fewer in computer science

For the second option, credits obtained in a two year programs, online courses, and correspondence courses are acceptable as long as they come from an accredited college or university.

Taking the Indiana CPA Exam

After you’ve completed your education experience requirements, the next steps will depend on each candidate’s individual situation.

Download an exam application or register online on the CPA Examination Services (CPAES) website.

  • If you’re still enrolled in college:
    • Request a copy of your transcript for submission to the National Association of State Boards of accountancy, including the completion of a bachelor’s degree and number of credit hours - This will show that you covered every requirement
    • Ask for a Certificate of Enrollment from the registrar’s office, fill out the top section, and return to university personnel to complete and send to the Board
    • Submit the $150 application fee
    • Submit an ADA Accommodation Form if you require any special disability accommodations
  • If you’re no longer enrolled in college, you'll still need to prove you've completed all exam requirements:
    • Request a copy of your transcript for submission to the Board
    • Submit the $150 application fee
    • Submit an ADA Accommodation Form if you require any special disability accommodations

All correspondence, including applications and supplemental documents, should be sent to: CPA Examination Service, Indiana Coordinator, P.O. Box 198469, Nashville, TN 37219-8469.

Wait to receive your Notice to Schedule to arrive. Once you have that, you may schedule the date you will sit for whichever sections of the exam you choose.

Use the Prometric website to schedule your CPA exam. You can take the exam in one of the following locations:

  • Evansville
  • Merrillville
  • Mishawaka
  • Terre Haute
  • Lafayette
  • Indianapolis

Be sure to arrive at your exam site a bit before the scheduled time, prepared and punctual, in order to get through security. You can expect to receive your scores within a few weeks of testing.

Continuing Professional Education Requirements

With evolving regulations and practices, it’s vital for CPAs to keep their knowledge up to date with continued professional education (CPE). You’ll need to complete the following to remain eligible for license renewal.

Every three years, CPAs must complete 120 hours of CPE under the following terms:

  • Each year, you must complete at least 20 hours of CPE
  • 10 percent of your total hours must be from accounting or auditing classes
  • Once students obtain the proper amount of accounting experience, they are required to take four CPE semester hours in an accounting ethics class. Indiana does not require an ethics exam for passing the CPA certification.
  • One hour of CPE is the equivalent of 50 minutes of class time
  • No more than 50 percent of your CPE hours can be obtained through self-study

You can accumulate CPE hours by holding discussions or lectures, self-study (with verification), or attending graduate school courses.

Make sure to document and keep records of the hours you’re eligible to receive for credit.

Keep track of the following:

  • Dates of course attendance
  • Class locations and sponsorship
  • Hours spent on class materials
  • Certificate of course completion

It may be worthwhile to consider joining the Indiana CPA Society. You’ll stay in the loop when new rules and regulations hit the accounting and finance industries, and do plenty of networking along the way.

Become an Accountant in Indiana

Accounting professionals have achieved their standing after a very long road full of hard work and dedication. That road often starts very early in childhood. Future accountants often demonstrate a talent for mathematics in their early years. They may also be considered remarkably tidy and detail-oriented individuals. Though accountants can be quieter and more withdrawn, that is not always the case, and they may also start out as star athletes, class presidents, or simply well-liked individuals.

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As future accountants move into their high school years, they should see if their local area supports a school for math and science. Barring that, most high schools offer courses in business or accounting. Students should take advantage of those courses while taking as many courses in mathematics as possible. It can also be advantageous to study computer science or information technology. After all, many accountants are building successful careers in technology.

When it comes time to seek out an Indiana college or university, it's vital to assess each one's business and accounting programs. After all, not all accountants come from the same mold. Some students will want a traditional accounting degree while others may be interested in integrating other fields such as management, computer science, supply chain management, or data science with their accounting studies.

Students should also evaluate each program's accreditation. They should ensure that the college or university has at least a regional accreditation, but they should also investigate the accounting department for programmatic credentials. That is, programs that hold either AACSB, ACBSP, or IACBE credentials should be considered as being among the very best. A program with these esteemed credentials will confer degrees that will open doors nationwide. Furthermore, a graduate from one of these programs may have an easier time when applying to top master’s accounting degree programs.

Upon graduation, students will have a number of options. They could seek out entry-level positions based on their undergraduate degrees, they could apply to graduate accountancy programs, or they could pursue a CPA license. Those who intend to pursue accounting should certainly investigate the certification that best suits them and their career aspirations. However, all accounting professionals should make graduate school a priority, if only as a long-term goal.

Careers for Accounting Graduates

  • Business Admin/Manager:
    Managers oversee a number of business functions. While workers tend to see them as creating the work schedule, payroll matters, and hiring and firing in their department or business, they are often responsible for far more. In fact, managers are well advised to study accounting to help them execute their jobs in the best way possible. This is because they often need to manage more than just people. Managers need to maintain an accounting of things such as inventories, revenues, expenses, as well as timesheets and payroll matters. While they may not need the skills of a CPA, general bookkeeping skills will go a very long way.
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO):
    This is a top-level position in the C-suites of a corporation. CFOs are usually accountants who have risen through the ranks to the top of the heap. To reach this level of distinction, most will have completed an MBA with a concentration in either accountancy or finance. Their duties will entail overseeing their accountants, bookkeepers, and the financial departments, depending on their corporate structure.
  • Claims Adjuster:
    A claims adjuster is most often found in an insurance company. We usually think of them as the people who investigate claims against automotive insurance policies. However, there are other sorts of insurance claims that may require very specialized credentials. Regardless, all claim adjusters will need some background in accounting to help them weigh a claim payout against their business objectives.
  • Financial Analyst:
    Accounting degree holders often seek out positions as financial analysts. Their jobs can come in many forms, depending on which industry they land in. For instance, those in the investment banking sector typically take this job as a two-year apprenticeship before heading back to school for an MBA. When they return to the field they enter as associates and then move up from there to VP and beyond.
  • Benefits Specialist:
    This job is part of a company's human resources department and is vital to everyone's wellbeing. Benefits specialists evaluate many healthcare, dental, and vision care providers to determine which will be the best for their employees. They negotiate the best packages for the best price. Thus, benefits specialists need to be adept at working with spreadsheet and evaluating the costs versus the benefits of each package.
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA):
    These accounting professionals hold perhaps the highest esteem in all of business. They have passed a very rigorous four-part examination, which is considered the most difficult professional exam there is. In fact, the exam is so difficult that those who manage to pass only one or two parts can proudly display that achievement on their resumes. After passing the exam, candidates who meet the requirements from their state's Board of Accountancy can hold full CPA licensure which enables them to sign and be held accountable for tax return documents.
  • Bookkeeper:
    This is a highly valued position that many attain with an associate accounting degree, or better. Many bookkeepers work for small companies or may work independently for a number of small clients. Their primary duties are to tally receipts in a ledger. Their work may be later sent to a CPA or other tax professional. In the meantime, they may be asked to prepare charts and graphs for their employer. Theses graphics will reflect overall business growth and development.

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