What Courses Are Needed for Accounting? (With Tips)

Updated January 20, 2023

Accountants perform essential roles, including maintaining a professional record of the business's financial activities, conducting audits, cost and asset management, and consulting on tax issues. A career in accounting offers several job opportunities with governmental entities, corporations, small businesses, non-profits, and individuals. Understanding what courses are needed for accounting helps you prepare for the relevant courses for a successful accounting career. In this article, we discuss the various courses for an accounting career and examine how to become an accountant.

What courses are needed for accounting?

Knowing what courses are needed for accounting can help you prepare for a career in this field. Here are some of the accounting programs you can pursue and their required courses:

Bachelor's degree

Here are some of the courses you may take during a bachelor's degree in accounting:

Introduction to financial accounting

Financial accounting is the branch of accounting that tracks a company's financial transactions. Accountants record, summarize, and present financial statements using standard guidelines, like balance sheets or income statements. This course teaches the nature and scope of accounting, functions of accountants in a business organization, and basic accounting conventions and concepts. Students also may learn about source documents for posting accounting records, preparing books of original entries, and explaining and classifying revenue and expenditures.

Introduction to managerial accounting

Managerial accounting is the aspect of accounting that provides accounting information that internal users like managers can use to make decisions. The branch leverages principles from different business fields to cater to various management needs. It involves budgeting and forecasting, financial analysis, performance evaluation, product costing, evaluation of business decisions, and corporate finance. The chief management accountant oversees all accounting functions, including providing essential information to the managers.

Financial accounting theory and practice

This course provides an in-depth and theory-based guide to accounting, accounting applications to decision-making at the management level, and how it affects the global community. The course teaches students to interpret, assess, and apply accounting standards and understand the connection between theory and corporate financial statements. Students also learn to plan logical arguments, examine complex issues, and reach analytical conclusions regarding accounting. The course also explores the objective of general-purpose financial reporting and its economic and social roles.

Related: A Guide to Entry-Level Accounting Interview Questions

Cost accounting

Cost accounting is a variation of managerial accounting, which assesses the variable costs of production to determine a company's total production cost. It provides essential data to managers for control and planning, and data on costing services, products, and customers. The course equips accounting students with the knowledge and skills to identify and determine various costs, including direct, indirect, fixed, and variable costs. It also teaches students to differentiate between process-costing, job-costing, and joint-costing systems. Students also learn to improve a business with target costing, constraint analysis, capital budgeting, and cost of quality analysis.

Income tax accounting

This course involves income tax principles and introduces students to taxation procedures and general theory. It also reviews how applications of income tax laws link to income of sole proprietorships, individuals, estates, gifts, and social security. Students taking this course learn to define and discuss income taxation concepts, identify applicable laws and rules, and calculate tax liabilities. They also learn to examine issues concerning income tax, prepare related documents like tax returns, and leverage income tax software.

Auditing theory and practice

This course involves studying the audit profession, the audit process, and the various assurance and non-assurance services relating to the profession. It introduces students to concepts and issues concerning auditing and its place in the business and the legal environment. Students learn to develop an audit plan, apply audit procedures, review audit findings, and evaluate emerging audit issues. Students also learn about auditing standards and ethics, risk, materiality, planning, internal control and assessment of accounting systems, audit evidence and sampling, and fraud.

Master's degree courses

Here are some courses you may take during a master's degree in accounting:

Advanced financial accounting

Advanced financial accounting builds on less advanced financial accounting courses. The course introduces students to various complex topics and their impact on disclosure and financial reporting. These topics include temporary and long-term investment in debt and equity securities, international accounting, accounting standards development, and consolidation after acquisition. Students learn to apply conceptual principles to choose appropriate accounting policies, categorize and account for multiple financial instruments, and apply appropriate methods to consolidate and translate foreign operations. You also learn to prepare consolidated financial statements for fully owned and partially owned subsidiaries at acquisition and subsequent years.

Taxation of business entities

Taxation of business entities examines tax issues concerning creating, operating, and terminating partnerships, companies, and trusts. The course emphasizes the in-depth examination of income tax rules that apply. Students learn to apply relevant tax regulations to solve tax-related problems concerning business entities. You also learn statutory interpretation, examine policy issues affecting business taxation, and consider tax regulatory enforcements.

Partnership taxation

Partnership taxation involves income tax treatment of partnerships and partners, including challenges concerning forming, operating, and dissolving the partnership. It also includes problems concerning the sale of partnership interests and distribution of partnership assets. Students learn tax implications of partnerships, the impact, advantages and disadvantages, and the responsibilities surrounding partnerships.

Related: How to Become a Chartered Accountant: Definition and Steps

Financial statement analysis and recording

This course offers students an in-depth framework for interpreting and examining historical financial performance, predicting future performance, assessing essential risk factors, and understanding fundamental equity. Students also learn the composition of financial statements and the basic accounting concepts, which are the foundations of financial reporting. The course emphasizes applying Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to reporting and recording financial information.

Accounting analytics

Accounting analytics create new insights and comprehension of financial and non-financial performance by consistently assessing large datasets concerning past financial and non-financial events. The course provides students with skills to examine accounting data to address accounting-related challenges. In addition, students learn the different types of data analytics methods and how to apply them to the problems.

How to become an accountant

Here are essential steps to take if you desire an accounting career:

1. Get an education

A relevant bachelor's degree in accounting or its many variations is essential for a career in accounting. This degree includes cost accounting, financial accounting, auditing theory and practice, and income tax. These courses help you develop an excellent foundation for an accounting career. You can also take electives in economics, business management, business administration, and data analytics. These courses help you develop other essential skills for an accounting role.

2. Gain experience

Experience is a vital aspect of any career aspiration, including accounting. Some employers also prioritize experience over academic qualifications. You can begin developing your experience in accounting early by pursuing various internship programs in university. Many companies and businesses have accounting or financial departments, so you have a wide range of options from which to choose. Internships can provide you with valuable first-hand insight into professional accounting practices. You can also solidify your experience by taking various practical-oriented electives while in university.

3. Apply for jobs

Job applications are crucial aspects of any career pursuit. Your chances of getting a job depend on various factors, including the quality and quantity of your experience, the quality of your academic qualifications, and certifications. Your resume displays this information, and employers use it to determine if you're a good candidate for a role. Ensure your resume is brief, properly formatted, and includes relevant keywords. Ensure you also prepare adequately for your interview by rehearsing with popular interview questions for the role and field.

Related: Average Salary of an Accountant

4. Gain certifications

Certifications are useful for expanding your range of opportunities in any career. They help qualify you for better job offers and higher pay as they demonstrate your proficiency and expertise in accounting. These certifications have numerous requirements before you can take them, which typically include a relevant bachelor's degree and years of experience in the field.

5. Get a postgraduate degree

A postgraduate degree in a relevant field also expands your range of opportunities and puts you in a position for better job offers and more pay. Like certifications, a relevant postgraduate degree demonstrates your proficiency and expertise in accounting. Postgraduate programs courses include financial statement analysis and recording, partnership taxation, advanced financial accounting, and accounting analytics.

Related: 12 Skills Accountants Need for Workplace Success

6. Network

Networking is vital for the success of any career for numerous reasons. A good network can introduce you to several new opportunities, business partners, or job offers. Your network is also an excellent source for a mentor if you desire mentorship. Ensure your network comprises fellow accounting professionals to maximize its benefits. You can make necessary connections by attending multiple industry lectures, summits, or dinners.

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