Online Certificate Programs in Accounting

An online accounting certificate is ideal for students who are skilled in working with numbers, balancing budgets, analyzing data and managing finances. Accounting involves an intrinsic process of communicating relevant, usable information to individuals and business entities. A certificate in accounting covers an array of important subjects, including but not limited to basic accounting, auditing, tax accounting and management accounting. During their certificate programs, students will achieve an understanding of economics, businesses, statistics, finance, management and ethics. Because accounting involves a great deal of math and analysis, students should be skilled at crunching numbers and understanding financial data.

Vocational Certificate

For students who don’t to want to obtain a bachelor’s in accounting right away, there is an opportunity to earn a vocational certificate instead. Similar to an associate, a vocational certificate allows students to take a number of liberal arts classes and introductory accounting courses. After finishing a vocational certificate, students have the opportunity to move onto either a bachelor’s program or an entry-level accounting jobs. Certificates are an efficient way to save money and also serve as a useful precursor to higher degrees.

Vocational certificates can be completed in under a year, with most schools requiring less than 20 credits for students to graduate. What’s more, most, if not all, classes, assignments, quizzes and tests can be completed online. Many of the classes featured in a vocational certificate program are credited towards an accounting bachelor’s degree as well. In an online program, students often enroll in courses like principles of management, business law, cost management, auditing, introductory accounting and a handful of others.

Pre-Master's Certificate

A pre-master’s certificate in accounting is designed for students who wish to eventually obtain their master’s. With an accounting pre-master’s certificate, students can stay up-to-date with the important issues and ongoing events in the accounting world. After earning a pre-master’s certificate, students can take a number of certification exams and apply for entry or mid-level accounting jobs, depending on any previous experience they may have in the workforce. Some of the qualifications students will need to apply for a pre-master’s certificate include:

  • A bachelor’s in accounting or a related subject
  • Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, depending on the school’s preference
  • Desired undergraduate GPA

Although they differ at each school, pre-master’s certificates in accounting can usually be completed in under a year. Many of the classes featured in a pre-master’s certificate, such as an introduction to intermediate accounting, managerial accounting, microeconomics, and macroeconomics, serve as introductory courses to an accounting master’s degree. Oftentimes, these courses can be taken through online colleges and distance learning programs.

Post-Master's Certificate

A post-master’s certificate in accounting allows students to further their mastery of the subject by taking courses at a more advanced level than offered in their master’s program, without having to commit to a full on Ph.D. in accounting. Like other certificates, a post-master’s certificate also allows students to specialize in various accounting skills in areas like managerial accounting. With a post-master’s certificate, students can go into teaching and research positions in colleges and universities. If they desire, students also have the opportunity to enroll in a handful of classes that can be later credited towards a Ph.D. in accounting. Students looking into a post-master’s certificate program should be equipped with the following:

  • A master’s degree in accounting or related subject
  • A minimum undergraduate GPA

Most students that pursue a post-master’s certificate in accounting choose to complete their studies part-time. Because of this, many colleges offer their post-master’s certificates either partially or completely online. Classes featured in an accounting post-master’s include extensive work in economic theory and econometrics.

What's Next for Accounting Certificate Holders?

Accounting certificate holders may have some success finding accounting and auditing positions in the workplace. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) May 2014 data, accounting graduates can expect to earn an average of $73,670 a year. Naturally, factors like experience and job location affect one’s actual salary. The BLS also reports that total employment numbers for accountants and auditors are expected to grow by 13% from 2014 to 2024.

With a certificate, students can segue right into obtaining their bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate. Many of the courses completed in certificate programs are also useful for preparing for certification exams, such as the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. Even if a student has no intention of pursuing a higher-level degree, they can still brush up on their accounting skills, which could bolster opportunities for raises or promotions.