Distance Learning: Accounting
Anyone with a head for numbers who is looking to climb the professional ladder but can’t afford the time or rigid scheduling required to attend an on-campus program should consider looking into distance learning. While it’s true that decades ago distance learning options were looked upon with a mixture of curiosity and suspicion, today all kinds of degrees that have been earned through distance learning are being issued by accredited, highly respected schools. It won’t come as a surprise that fields related to business were among the first to jump on the distance learning bandwagon. In fact, it’s because of some of these long-term programs that distance learning has evolved into an alternative and respected form of education that serves populations who in the past might have been unable to earn a degree and move forward professionally.
Perhaps you’ve got a job, but you’re not very far up the ladder. You’d like to accumulate enough credits to earn a higher degree, but there’s no way you can accommodate the demands of your life to allow attending scheduled classes because you’ve got young kids, a full-time job, or other obligations that just won’t bend. Luckily, there are dozens of distance learning accounting degrees from reputable schools waiting to be earned. Some programs might require attendance at one or more on-campus seminars, classes, or workshops, but others don’t have such a requirement. Online classes allow students to earn degrees as quickly or slowly as they need to, and since there’s no wasted time commuting back and forth, those once-lost hours can be used to complete course work that much quicker.
Accounting is a very hot field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks it very high against many other jobs, and projects a much faster than average rate of growth over the next decade at 22%. Even in this difficult economy, many skilled and highly trained individuals who have lost their jobs have discovered that striking out on their own and establishing their own small businesses may be the perfect solution. Accounting jobs that have been lost in larger companies are being offered by smaller ones.
Not only that, but the lack of supervision in banks, lending companies, Wall Street, and investors that has contributed to the economic downturn is being addressed legally. Financial regulations are tightening, and the result is more and better jobs for accountants who can help audit such information.
A distance learning accountant degree opens doors. Graduates will find work as cash managers, tax accountants, financial analysts, controllers, auditors, and much, much more. People who have already been working in accounting over a period of time might have hit the ceiling and discovered it’s really only possible to advance so far before there’s no place else to go. It can be very frustrating to watch someone younger and less experienced hop over your head to land on the rung of the ladder you were reaching for—and then keep going. The answer to, “What does that kid have that I don’t?” is obvious. A better degree. That’s something that you can realistically earn on your own time and working at your own pace. In fact, it’s within the reach of anyone who is willing to make the effort.
One popular option is earning a Certified Public Account (CPA) degree. This is a bachelor’s degree that typically requires four years of study, and the degree is granted only upon completion of all requirements, including passing the CPA exam. Of course, becoming a CPA isn’t required to work in the field of accounting, but holding this designation is required for anyone interested in auditing publically traded companies. Since the next step to becoming a CPA is state licensing, if you’re looking into distance learning programs, it’s smart to make sure the ones you are considering offer state-specific information.
If you’ve got a bachelor’s degree in accounting and are looking at career advancement, there are plenty of distance learning master’s degrees available. Not only will a master’s open an array of doors that had previously been closed and locked to you, but the increase in benefits, salary, and respect will make you wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Long-term accounting professionals might even decide to pursue a distance learning PhD in accounting in order to teach at the highest level or step into the most respected and most lucrative jobs in the field.
People pursuing an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in accounting through a distance learning program are typically well aware of the importance of accreditation. Earning a degree through a college or university that isn’t accredited is less than useless in the business world. Not only will the degree itself be unworthy of respect, but anyone foolish enough to waste time and money on an education that got its stamp of approval from an accreditation mill really doesn’t belong in the business world. Accreditation is voluntary; it’s possible to establish a school without going through the rigorous steps necessary to gain accreditation. Legitimate accrediting organizations aren’t associated with the college or university under examination, and they closely monitor curriculum, methods of instruction, materials, and other related areas to determine if a particular school offers the kind of solid education the student deserves.
Attending a school that isn’t accredited is a big mistake for anyone pursuing a business type of degree. Even worse, though, is attending a school that is accredited, but through a group that isn’t considered legitimate. Sadly, there are a number of accrediting mills more than willing to “approve” a school for a fee. Needless to say, employers are well aware of these so-called accrediting groups, as well as of the inferior schools who wear their stamp of approval.
Five accrediting organizations are currently considered legitimate in the eyes of the U.S. Department of Education. Check their website to make sure the school or schools you are considering have been approved by one of more of these respected and acknowledged associations. Look for accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the Association of Collegiate Business Programs and Schools, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the Distance Training and Education Council, or the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges.
Last Updated: 07/05/2018