Accounting is one of the most vital professions in business. Even governmental agencies and non-profit organizations rely on accountants to keep their accounts in order. If you are a student of accounting, or are planning to make it your major, you will need to explore the myriad resources available to you. It's never too early to start this process, either.
You need to know certain things about college programs, scholarship resources, and the internships that may help launch a brilliant career. This page was created to help you learn and begin to explore every aspect of your future career. And don’t stop at learning what you’ll have access to as a student; there is also useful information for professionals in the field and those looking to earn professional certifications.
Resources for Accounting Students
Accreditation is a vital part of your education. It may be invisible to most students, but accreditation is the glue that holds programs together. When an accounting program is accredited by a special accounting agency, that means that the faculty, curriculum, and student metrics all meet high expectations.
Accounting programs that are accredited by either the AACSB or ACBSP have earned special credentials that attest to a high quality of education. Both are generally listed in the literature of top business schools, but each offers special standards for a school's accounting degree programs. Only if a school attains baseline accreditation can they opt to take on the extra cost and responsibility of a separate accounting accreditation, proving that their accounting program is one of the best of the best.
You ca ask your admissions counselor whether or not their accreditation's include accounting-specific accreditation. If not, the program may still be of high quality, but you will need to check for regional accrediting at the very least. Note that AACSB accreditation is considered the gold standard for business and accounting programs.
Questions About Financial Aid
Paying for school isn't easy for anyone. However, you can find loads of creative ways to finance your education, many of which don't require taking out a loan. The best, though not the easiest, way to finance your education is with scholarships or grants. These funds don't usually require financial repayment, though there are some that require that you repay the lender with work.
Accounting students will be happy to find that their field falls into the business category, which opens up much more business scholarship opportunities. Many retiring accountant or other business people like to help out younger generations with funds to cover tuition and more. On top of this, many businesses like to integrate a mentoring program along with their scholarship awards. Thus, an accounting specific scholarship could result in career-building experience.
Finally, the most common way to finance your education is with student loans. Most loans are procured by filling out the ubiquitous FAFSA form. This form will serve as your application for federal loans, but many universities and grant or scholarship programs also use it to assess your overall financial need. The form may be used as all or part of a scholarship application.
Private loans are also available, but they should be used as a last resort. This is because they carry stiffer interest rates and repayment schedules. Nevertheless, if you need a final loan to complete your degree, these can help in a pinch.
Yet another way to pay for college is by working. You can sometimes enter a work-study program that not only offsets some of your loan but provides a modest paycheck on top. Then some schools offer co-op programs where you might join an accounting firm for a term and then return to school. During your work for the firm, you'll receive a paycheck that can go towards your academic or living expenses.
Important Associations for Students
As a student, you can engage with the wider world of accounting through a campus association or a national organization that allows student members. These associations frequently have special membership requirements and regular dues. However, the benefits are fantastic and will pay off throughout your career. For instance, they frequently allow members to have access to the group's research papers and journals. Most provide online courses and webinars, too. Furthermore, members will be able to attend the association's regional and national conferences.
- Beta Alpha Psi:
This Greek organization is over 100 years old. During that time, they have fostered the growth and development of young accounting students. Students must be at a top-tier, AACSB-accredited institution, and must have a minimum GPA of 3.0.
- AICPA Student Affiliate:
This association is a part of AICPA, the top professional accounting association. As a student member you'll have access to the wide range of networking opportunities, scholarship opportunities not available to non-members, and an online mentoring program.
- American Accounting Association:
Students at all levels are eligible to join the AAA at a reduced rate. On top of that, you can access loads of research and other materials which might inform your academic work.
- Professional Accounting Society:
Though their primary mission is to unite junior and mid-career accountants, the PAS also offers student memberships. Those members have access to scholarships, publishing opportunities, and a lot more. The best part is that membership is free.
- Institute of Management Accountants:
For a reduced fee, students can join the IMA and have access to many of the same resources available to full members. The IMA offers career-building resources, continuing education opportunities, and CMA certification, among other benefits.
Student or Open Access Journals
If you start reading a professional journal while still in college, you'll be well ahead of the game when you start your first job. You'll stay informed of the latest tax law changes and many other issues that face professional accountants. The journals listed below are available to students and anyone who wishes to pay for the subscription. Many also provide free content online, including podcasts.
Keep in mind that your school's library may offer the print editions for fee. You'll have to read them in the library, as periodicals cannot be checked out, but you can always photocopy any articles you need for later.
- Accounting Today:
Students and anyone with an internet connection can read AT at any time. However, if you want the full news, you will need to subscribe to the print edition. Accounting Today also produces podcasts to listen to on your commute.
- The CPA Journal:
If you aspire to be a CPA, this journal is vital reading. The website is available to read, and you can sign up for the free newsletter so that you keep your finger on the pulse of the accounting world.
- Journal of Accountancy:
This is the journal of the AICPA, which offers student memberships. However, you can subscribe to the magazine or request that your library carry it. If you want to be current on the latest accounting news, this is the publication for you.
- New Accountant:
This journal is created specifically for university accounting students. This publication will help readers gain added insight into their chosen profession. Further, there's a high school edition for early starters.
Accounting Study Resources
Online learning is ubiquitous on campus and elsewhere. Surely you've learned to do something using a YouTube video. Now, as an accounting student, you can continue to use YouTube to learn more about your profession. You might be cramming for an exam and need a new perspective on a difficult term. You are likely to find a resource online to help. You can also find paid, but non-credit, courses online that will help advance your career.
Here are some online resources to get you started:
- Executive Finance:
This YouTube channel is chock-full of videos that cover all sorts of accounting issues. They use entertaining approaches to teach concepts such as EBITDA, Business Ethics, Auditing, and loads more. When you've finally exhausted the cat videos, Executive Finance can fill your YouTube time.
- Harvard Business School Online:
You won't have to be admitted to HBS to take advantage of some brilliant accounting study resources. Their courses are aimed at those looking to supplement their learning. Thus, if you are considering graduate school or are fresh out of school, you may make great use of their structured courses.
- Accounting Stuff:
This free YouTube channel is full of short, entertaining videos that will help you learn, or brush-up on, valuable accounting concepts. Each video includes links to more resources and provides timestamps so that you can easily access the most pertinent part of any of their videos.
- CPA Strength:
This YouTube channel has a lot to offer brand-new accounting students and more seasoned pros alike. They offer tips on the CPA exam, basic accounting, and special tricks that will enhance your workflow.
- Letstute Academy:
This channel has a lot great, free content. They also have paid accounting courses that can inform your studies or help you brush up on concepts for your accounting practice.
- CPA Exam Guide:
If you're planning to take and pass the most difficult professional examination, you will surely need to brush up prior to taking each of its four parts. The free videos even include bonus material.
There is an app for everything, including learning about accounting. There are many applications available for learning via your mobile device. These might provide new, auxiliary information that can broaden your scope or they might provide a brush-up for an examination or a test. When you're in the working world, you might take courses via an app as a way to brush up on concepts or possibly to satisfy CEU requirements for your certification board.
Many of the following are available via mobile app but are also accessible on your laptop. Thus, you can do some learning while on the train into the city, but also on your laptop at home.
Udemy's list of courses cover everything from photography to probability, accounting to zen meditation. The courses are inexpensive, and the lectures are generally on the short side so that you can fit extra learning into any day.
This company offers apps to cover a wide range of educational needs, including accounting. Each is free to download for your Android or iOS device.
- Accounting Calculator:
Yuki Muramatsu's accounting calculator can be a real lifesaver. If your stand-alone calculator dies or is lost, you'll always be able to pull this up on your phone or tablet.
- LibreOffice Impress Remote:
If you use the open-source office suite, LibreOffice, you might need this app. The Impress Remote lets you control your business or school presentations from your phone or tablet device. LibreOffice is a fully functional office suite that is available for free.
At some time during your accounting studies you will want to pursue an internship. These experiential learning adventures can help you meet people in the industry, gain experience in the real-world, and learn more about your profession. The Big Four accounting firms each offer internships that are highly prized by accounting students nationwide. However, you probably don't have to leave your town to find a smaller firm that has just as much to teach. In fact, wherever there's an accounting department, you might find an internship opportunity. Your department is sure to have plenty of internships listed in their offices or websites.
- Deloitte and Touche:
Kick your career off from your first year in college. Deloitte's Pioneer Internship committee selects only the most promising accounting students for this stimulating, and demanding, scholarship.
You'll need to free up at least two months for this internship, but every minute will be worth it. That's because working alongside PwC accountants will broaden your horizons in so many ways. Try to extend your intern period as much as possible and your career will thank you.
- Ernst and Young:
If you are able to land an internship with E&Y, you can expect big things. They will take you onboard just like a full employee. You'll work alongside E&Y professionals, and you'll hone all of your business skills.
An internship with KPMG will set you apart from the pack once you start sending resumes. You'll work alongside a mentor from KPMG's team. They will be able to provide you with the insight and information you need to launch a brilliant career.
Resources for Students and Professionals
Accounting Certification Options
Accounting is nothing if not a diverse profession. Since any major system needs an accountant to audit its systems, inventories, etc, a wide range of specialties have evolved to meet those specific needs. In fact, some sub-sets of the field are vastly different from the others. Forensic accounts for example spend a lot of time investigating fraud and may even work alongside law enforcement.
While some accounting certifications carry legal responsibilities, such as the Certified Public Accountant designation, most are professional designations that are nevertheless required to work in certain areas. That is, a CPA has a great responsibility when filing tax forms. Their signature indicates that the client's information is complete and that the filling is fully in compliance with tax law. Enrolled agents likewise have legal duties to help protect their clients.
Some available certifications include:
- Certified Public Accountant
- Certified Public Bookkeeper
- Certified Financial Analyst
- Enrolled Agent
- Certified Internal Auditor
- Certified Information Systems Auditor
Certification Study Resources
It is not easy to attain any accounting certification. Each has its own set of requirements, often starting with a bachelor's degree, though some require a graduate degree. Then their examinations are very rigorous. In fact, the 4-part CPA examination is one of the most difficult professional examinations in the nation. Many accountants only take one part of the CPA exam and make an entire career from that one specialty area.
As you approach your exam date, it’s wise to consider a study course or some other supplemental materials to help you prepare. In a best-case scenario you might seek out a few colleagues and form a study group. This way you can maximize your learning and pass your exam on the first try.
- AICPA Exam Prep:
Who better to help you prepare for the CPA examination than the organization that creates it.
- ACFE Exam Prep:
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners helps candidates prepare for its test with software created to optimize your test-taking.
- NACPB Exam Prep:
Members of the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) can get a discount on exam prep videos, courses, and prep programs.
- IIA Exam Prep:
Anyone studying to take the Internal Auditor examination should start their prep work with the test maker’s website.
- AICPA Job Board:
As a member of the AICPA, you'll be able to take advantage of their exclusive job postings. If you're an employer, you'll have direct access to the most qualified CPAs in the nation.
- IIA Job Postings:
Internal auditors can find the specific jobs they're looking for without sifting through a heap of irrelevant search results.
- University HQ Job Boards:
All kinds of accountants can find their next big career move using this helpful, accounting only job board.
- Tax Talent:
Tax professionals will love this focused approach to the job search.
A temporary agency is a firm that matches accountants with temporary jobs and project positions. Many students utilize temp agencies to get their start in the working world. As a trained accountant, you'll be able to fill needs for various accounting firms, internal accounting departments, and more. In fact, you might temp in a firm that has a specialty practice area that might become your career path.
While temping may offer an opportunity to experience a range of corporate and professional environments, it can also result in a full-time job. Once you demonstrate your value and ability to work with the others in the office, you just might get a job offer.
Here are some temp agencies you might want to look into:
Resources for Accounting Professionals
Professional Accounting Associations
When you leave college and graduate school it's important to remain a part of a professional association. Membership will provide many benefits such as continuing education opportunities, networking opportunities, journals, leadership opportunities, and career development tools. Since you are likely to pursue a certification or state licensure, you will find the easy availability of online courses and webinars invaluable. Then you can attend conferences that may provide CEUs, and you'll be alerted to local lectures that will add to your knowledge and insight.
Most people probably think of associations as opening new networking opportunities, and they certainly do. You'll surely find other members in your local area and then you can broaden the scope of your network at national conferences. You might find new friends or professional colleagues with whom you might collaborate on papers or even break off and form your own firm someday. No matter how you approach your membership, associations offer the opportunity to engage with fellow accountants in ways that are stimulating and rewarding both on a personal and professional level.
Information is power. If you were to pursue your accounting career without learning anything new, your practice would soon stagnate, and you would find yourself very much behind everyone else. When you make a regular habit of reading professional journals, you can keep your fingers on the pulse of the accounting and financial worlds. After all, every day there may be new legislation and other writers may discover new approaches to old problems that you'd never considered. Make it a practice to check journal websites and even subscribe to their print editions. Your career will thank you.
- Journal of Accountancy:
This premier journal is offered by the Association of International Certified Public Accountants.
- The CPA Journal:
This publication is from the New York State Society of CPAs.
- Journal of Accounting Research:
This academic journal is published on behalf of the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.
- Accounting Today:
This periodical is produced by Arizent, a business information company that publishes a number of other business publications.
Industry Conferences for Accountants
If you are actively reading accounting journals, pursuing continuing education units, and otherwise an engaged accountant, the next level is to attend conferences. Conferences provide an opportunity to meet your fellow professionals, have fun, and learn a lot in a short period of time.
While some conferences are highly specialized, many offer seminars and lectures on a wide range of topic. Thus, you might be able to attend a few lectures that cater to your particular professional focus, but you might also be able to learn about other specialty areas. For instance, you might be a financial auditor who may learn a new perspective by attending a lecture on IT audits or about auditing in the NGO realm. The number and scope of accounting conferences is immense, so you are sure to find at least one per year for you and your team.
- AICPA Governmental and Non-Profit Training Program:
Accountants need to be aware of recent regulatory changes, so this conference is vital to remaining current in your practice. Auditors, controllers, and financial directors will find this a very enlightening experience.
- AICPA Conference on Credit Unions:
If you are in the Credit Union business, this is a very important conference to attend. Industry experts will present on topics such as current events in financial services, changes in NCUA regulations, fraud, and best practices for audits.
- Structured Finance Association:
The SFA puts on the largest capital markets conference in the world. Accountants from hedge funds, law firms, rating agencies, big data firms, and many more should all attend.
- NTCA Financing + Accounting Conference:
This conference is for anyone involved in making important financial decisions. Attendees can receive CEU credits, learn more about strategy, operations, and technology, all on top of excellent networking opportunities with peers nationwide.
Thankfully you no longer have to conduct your business using paper ledgers. That work was tedious, endless, and exhausting. Nowadays, your business needs accounting software to attain any level of efficiency. Your employees will demand it and the added efficiency will show up on your bottom line. Now, with the advent of cloud computing, the process is all the easier. You and your team can log hours, expenses, and receive payments all with an app or from a laptop, miles away from the office. Review this sampling of the available accounting software and find your next upgrade.
- Acumatica Project Accounting:
This package allows for multiple users across the departments in your company. The software is also fully customizable to meet your needs.
- SBS Financials:
With this software you can streamline your firm's financial processes. You can compare budgets, approve invoices, and receive full support whenever you need it.
- ZOHO Books:
Whether you need to track inventories, payables, time tracking, or banking (among many other things), ZOHO will enable you to manage every aspect of your business no matter where you are. The software is a subscription-based tool that lives in the cloud so you can do your work from the airport terminal as well as your c-suite office.
FreshBooks is a cloud-computing solution to your accounting needs. It allows you to manage every aspect of your business from a desktop, laptop, or mobile device. If you're a consultancy, your team can log hours from their phones and then add them to an invoice later or accept credit card payments from within the system. This is the perfect solution for small businesses.
ZarMoney is made for small businesses. In fact, if you are a one-person shop or the only accountant, you can use the package for free. Adding other users will mean added, though nominal, fees. Don't worry if your enterprise experiences a vast growth because ZarMoney is fully scalable to meet your needs.