Recently, we discussed what an accountant does, why accounting is important, and why you might want to get into the field. Here we’ll explore whether or not accounting is a difficult discipline to study and succeed in.
Many people think that accounting is hard, including being difficult to study, difficult to become an expert in, and difficult as a career, but none of these ideas are necessarily true.
While accounting does require a complex set of skills and abilities, as well as excellent attention to detail, it really isn’t any more difficult than many of the other popular fields of study that lead to excellent lifelong career opportunities.
In fact, for some people, accounting may even be a much easier discipline than other potential options; it just depends on what you like and what you’re good at doing.
To help alleviate any concerns about accounting being too difficult, this post will explain why people think it’s hard, what you’ll need to do to get a good job in the industry, and why you should think about getting into the field.
If you’re interested in launching a career as an accountant, fill out our information request form to receive additional details about our online Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, or our online Master’s in Accounting program. If you’re ready to get started, submit your application.
Why Do People Think That Accounting is Difficult?
Every subject is considered to be “hard” by somebody because each subject has elements that are difficult for certain types of people.
Someone who doesn’t like reading long books, for example, probably wouldn’t want to become a history major, whereas anyone who despises science isn’t going to want to major in physics.
But why do so many people seem to think that accounting is difficult? Let’s look at three common reasons for this misconception
1. They Hate Math
Some people think accounting is hard because it requires math, and they simply don’t want to do any math. If you absolutely can’t stand math, then yes, you probably wouldn’t make a great accountant.
In fact, you almost certainly won’t want to major in accounting, study it or try to launch a career in the field, because there’s bound to be math involved in what you do on a day to day basis
2. They’re Afraid of the CPA Exam
Other people might think accounting is hard because they’re worried about being able to pass the CPA exam, which is notoriously difficult.
But here’s the good news: not all accountants become CPAs, and the CPA exam is only one of many optional career paths for someone looking to launch a career in accounting.
If fear of the CPA exam is the only thing holding you back from considering studying accounting, it’s time to reevaluate your concerns, because accounting graduates have a whole series of excellent opportunities that they can pursue other than becoming a CPA
3. They Think Accounting is Just Number Crunching
Finally, others may think that accounting is difficult because they’ve been told that accounting work is all just number crunching, like being a human calculator.
These people have the wrong idea about what accounting entails, but anyone who believes that and likes working with people would understandably think that accounting is difficult, since they wouldn’t want to do the work.
Just like any other field, accountants are tasked with a variety of different responsibilities. Some accountants certainly will be responsible for doing nothing but number crunching (like entry-level bookkeepers), but most accounting professionals are going to be asked to do a variety of tasks.
In fact, many accountants spend the majority of their time ignoring numbers and instead end up dedicated to working with other people to collect information, build presentations, and advise senior leadership about the organization’s finances, using numbers that some other accountant has crunched for them.
It’s Not as Bad as You Might Think
Getting your degree in accounting really isn’t any more difficult than any other potential field of study.
Just like any other program, you’ll run into some elements of accounting that are complex, but you may also find some of it to be relatively intuitive, or even easy.
As with any other subject, you’ll need to study and apply yourself if you want to succeed, but that remains true for virtually every single major.
The level of difficulty you’ll experience studying accounting is almost certainly going to be based on what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing.
Whether you’re perfectly suited to become an accountant, or you’ll need to struggle and strain to pick up the skills and knowledge required to succeed in the field, the best way to ensure success is in the industry is to enroll in an accredited accounting degree program.
Let’s look at what you’d learn during an accounting program so that you can think about whether or not these sorts of tasks align with your own innate interests and abilities.
What Basic Skills Do You Need to Learn to Become a Professional Accountant?
To overcome the common challenges accountants face on a daily basis, you’re going to need to develop your skills and abilities so that you can do things like:
- Organize and maintain financial records.
- Identify ways to increase value, reduce costs, and improve the bottom line.
- Prepare, analyze, and confirm the accuracy of financial records and tax filings.
- Ensure that taxes are paid both properly and on time.
You’ll also need to develop your capacity to provide these sorts of services to both individuals and organizations, as accountants may find themselves working with both types of clients.
At some point, you may be able to decide which type of client you like best, and you can then specialize in one or the other, but as you’re learning the ropes and working on launching your career, it’ll be a good idea to understand how to work with both individuals and organizations.
These tasks may not seem easy, but they’re not so difficult that you can’t learn to do them, and the best way to develop your capacity for them is to complete a degree program in the field.
What Advanced Accounting Skills Will You Need?
Getting your degree will provide you with the basic skills outlined above, but more importantly, it’ll also teach you to handle much more sophisticated tasks, including learning to:
- Apply accounting principles, standards, and practices to analyze financial data.
- Collaborate using automation tools, business intelligence, and data analytics to perform accounting business functions, communicate information, and create financial solutions.
- Analyze relevant ethical and regulatory trends that apply to both domestic and international accounting.
- Evaluate accounting processes, systems, and financial data to identify opportunities for improving business processes.
- Demonstrate accounting and leadership skills using automation, business intelligence, and data analytics.
While you should expect there to be a bit of a learning curve for developing these more complex skills and abilities, it’s nothing that can’t be overcome with dedicated study and serious coursework.
And once you’ve learned to handle these complicated accounting duties, you’ll be able to apply that expertise in virtually any industry, making you an incredibly valuable asset at nearly any organization.
Who Should Consider Becoming an Accountant?
Accounting isn’t for everyone, but some people are perfectly suited to succeed in this industry.
Here’s a list of several character traits that could help improve the chances that this is the right field of study for you:
- You’re well organized. Being capable of keeping things organized will be an extremely important skill as an accountant, where you’ll be responsible for sorting through financial data, organizing it, and delivering insights about it.
- You’re a good planner. Accountants need to plan and project, thinking about the future and preparing their clients and the organizations that they work for to accomplish critical financial goals.
- You like working on a team. You’ll do some work alone as an accountant, but once the data has been compiled, it has to be presented to someone who can make decisions based on the findings. Nearly every accountant works in some kind of team, either with other accountants or with organizational leaders who count on them for providing financial advice.
- You can clearly explain complex concepts. Being able to review a wealth of financial data and distill it into a simple takeaway so that senior leadership can understand what they need to do in response to the data is a key skill for accountants.
- You enjoy solving puzzles. Accounting isn’t always straightforward, sometimes it requires digging for information, piecing things together, and uncovering financial details that aren’t obvious, especially when conducting an audit or performing complex tax calculations. If you enjoy puzzles, this could be the perfect role for you.
There are many other traits that would indicate you would be a great candidate for becoming an accountant, and none of these are absolutely necessary to succeed in the field, but if you match with several of them then you might find accounting to be far easier than you originally thought.
Do You Need a Degree to Break Into the Field?
While it’s definitely possible to get into accounting without a degree, that’s become more difficult in modern times where accountants are expected to join organizations ready to deliver value from day one.
Accounting work grows more technical, specific, and more critical to organizational success each year, and if you want to launch a successful career in the industry then you should certainly consider enrolling in a degree program to develop the knowledge and skills needed to operate as an effective accountant before you go job-hunting.
Getting your degree increases the odds that you’ll be able to complete assigned accounting work, and it’s also an excellent way to send a signal to potential hiring managers that you’ve got what it takes to fill their open positions.
When it comes time to choose which degree program to enroll in, CSU Global offers two excellent options.
Which Type of Degree Should You Get? Bachelor’s vs. Master’s Programs
You should enroll in the type of degree program that is best aligned with your professional needs and career aspirations.
For most aspiring accountants, that will mean choosing between a bachelor’s or a master’s program, and the most effective way to decide which program would be best for you is to think about your:
- Current academic credentials.
- Experience in accounting.
- Long-term career goals.
If you don’t already have a bachelor’s degree, or you’re brand new to accounting and just trying to break into the field, then you will want to look into getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting.
However, if you already have a bachelor’s degree (in any field), and you want to develop the skills and abilities that will allow you to pursue roles in leadership or management, then our Master’s Degree in Accounting may be a better fit for you.
If you’re having a difficult time choosing between a B.S. or an M.S. program, contact our Enrollment Counselors by calling 1-800-462-7845, or by emailing enroll [at] csuglobal.edu.
They can review your educational background, industry experience, and your goals to provide advice on which program would be best suited for you.
Whichever program you choose, you can rest assured that it’s going to help set you up for becoming a successful accountant.
Should You Get Your Degree in Accounting Online?
If you’ve got work or family responsibilities that will need attention while you’re studying accounting, then you should think about getting your degree online.
Choosing to study online will provide you with much more flexibility than a traditional in-person program since it’ll allow you to study in your own time and on your own schedule.
CSU Global’s 100% online accounting programs were designed to be completed entirely online, and they offer several important benefits, including:
- No set class times or physical locations.
- Monthly class starts.
- Accelerated eight-week courses.
If you’ve already got a relatively busy schedule, but you’re serious about developing the skills needed to become a professional accountant, then you should think about studying online with us.
Why Should You Choose to Study at CSU Global?
Our accounting programs are both regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and ACBSP Accredited by the Council of Business Schools and Programs.
Both programs have also earned excellent rankings, and our alumni report fantastic results from the job market after graduation.
In fact, our Bachelor’s in Accounting program was ranked #2 for Best Online Accounting Degrees from College Choice, and our alumni report a median salary of $93,250 five years after graduation, which is 43% higher than the national average for all bachelor’s degree holders.
Similarly, our Master’s in Accounting program was ranked #1 for Best Master’s in Forensic Accounting by Best Masters Programs, and our alumni report a median salary that is 6% higher than the national average for all master’s degree holders, along with an average salary increase of 30% three years after graduation.
Furthermore, CSU Global is widely regarded as a leader in online education, having recently received several distinguished rankings, including:
- A #1 Best Master’s in Forensic Accounting by The Edvocate.
- A Top 10 ranking for Best Online Bachelor's Degree Programs and Top 7 ranking for Best Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans from U.S. News & World Report.
- A #3 ranking for Best Colleges in Colorado from Best Value Schools.
- A #3 ranking for Best Value Online Graduate School from Value Colleges.
To get additional details about our fully accredited, 100% online degrees in accounting, please give us a call at (800) 462-7845, or fill out our Information Request Form. Ready to get started today? Apply now!