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The Breakdown

Think back to when you were younger and operated a little lemonade stand on your street corner. Were you the kid who kept an exact tally of how many cups you sold? Did you carefully note every sale and every tip? When you purchased your materials, did you closely compare the price of lemons? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you were likely displaying an early penchant for accounting.

Simply put, accounting is the foundation of business. After all, the discipline’s primary focus is the bottom line. As an accounting major, you will learn to assess business practices to ensure that companies remain financially solvent. Your curriculum will provide you with a broad business background. Indeed, you’ll take classes in everything from taxation and auditing to marketing and organizational behavior. You will study how to interpret financial data and acquire managerial skills. Moreover, you’ll learn how to keep records of business transactions and how to properly prepare statements concerning assets and liabilities. And you’ll come to understand how to apply this knowledge across a wide spectrum of clients, from international corporations to individuals.

Of course, accounting is not an easy major and you’ll need to rely on more than stellar quantitative skills. You will discover that you have to digest and analyze an immense amount of material. Therefore, attention to detail is essential and a good memory (and recall ability) will prove useful as well. Lastly, accountants rarely work alone so teamwork is also quite important.

Nuts and Bolts

If you choose to study accounting, you will certainly leave no aspect of the field unturned. Your schedule will likely include classes such as: Accounting for Business Operations, Taxation I, Problems in Accounting, Managerial Reporting, Financial Reporting, Legal Environment of Business, Accounting Theory and History, Accounting Research, Accounting for Non-Profit Entities, Business Statistics, Marketing Concepts, Production and Operations Management.

Decisions, Decisions

Accounting majors are drawn to disciplines that require quantitative skills and business acumen. Therefore, they also frequently consider studying statistics, business administration, math, finance, economics, actuarial science, human resources, international business, entrepreneurship, marketing and real estate.

What's Next

The good news for accounting majors is that they face strong career prospects. After all, no one is exempt from paying taxes! With regards to specific accounting positions, there are three basic avenues graduates can pursue: public, private or government/non-profit accounting. Students who decide to work in private accounting are employed by an individual company and help manage and plan said institution’s financial activities. They prepare budgets and conduct cost analyses for internal and external reports. Those who follow this path usually either enter a management trainee program or become an internal auditor. Graduates who join the world of public accounting often work at firms that address the needs of outside businesses and individuals. They provide accounting, auditing, tax and consulting services. It should be noted that to become a CPA and conduct independent audits, accountants must pass a 4-part licensing exam. Lastly, graduates might take their degree to the accounting departments of various government and non-profit agencies. They help their respective agencies figure out how to operate under budgetary restraints as well as monitor the appropriation of funds.


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Don Munce