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How to Become an Accountant

A smiling woman at a desk with a computer, calculator, and printed charts.

So many jobs aren’t super appealing but essential. One of those is accounting. However, what you might think of as a dry, number-punching job can be a lucrative career. Accounting offers many practical applications across all industries.

Accounting jobs range from simple bookkeeping to designing and managing payroll, tax, and general bookkeeping software.

So how exactly do you become an accountant?

Why Choose Accounting?

Like writing comes naturally to some, accounting comes naturally to others. Yes, accounting careers all rely on a particular proficiency in arithmetic, but it’s nothing that can’t be practiced and perfected.

If you’ve got a math itch you need to scratch, here are a few reasons why becoming an accountant is one of the best ways to apply your skills.

You’re Not Limited by Industry

Every single business handles money, and so do non-profit organizations. Personal finance can be complicated enough, but adding in payroll and ever-changing regulations often requires the specialty of a trained accountant.

Because of this, you aren’t limited by working in any industry because every industry utilizes accountants or accounting firms.

Many accounting professionals find their niche in specialized industries. These industries seek professionals with intimate knowledge of the industry’s rules, regulations, and best practices.

A woman at a computer with a calculator.

Job Security

In that same vein, every industry and business needing an accountant means you will have guaranteed job security. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the demand for accountants will continue to grow through 2031.

Like all professions, the better you get at your job, the more in demand you will be. And finding a niche that you can excel in will help.

Earning Potential

Working anywhere in the financial sphere is generally very well paying. Accounting is no exception.

The lowest 10% of accountants earn roughly $50,000 annually, while the median salary is over $77,000. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top 10% of accountants will earn $130,000 or more.

Problem-Solving is Fun

Some cognitive challenges are necessary and even fun, no matter our professions or passions. As humans, thinking critically keeps us sharp in all areas, not just the discipline where the problem we’re trying to solve lies.

Accounting is full of problem-solving. Therefore, you can be satisfied with finding a solution and learning something new.

You can get this in all levels and areas of accounting. Whether the numbers you’re looking at don’t make sense or you need to get creative to find or move money — accounting jobs are filled with “aha!” moments.

What Can I Do With Accounting Training?

Every type of accounting will need specialized training, but some introductory courses can set you on the best path for you.

Do you already know what specialty you want to focus on? Or are you just starting to look? The Regional Economic Center at Yavapai College has accounting courses to help you get started in your accounting career:

Check out our hundreds of online courses that cover every credential and certification you might need to succeed.

List of common accounting specialties.


When they hear about becoming an accountant, most people often think of a CPA. It stands for “certified public accountant.”

CPAs have more generalized knowledge of money matters within organizations. They’re usually brought in as a third party to perform audits or square away any finances of a business or organization.

Accounts Payable and Receivable

Depending on the organization’s size, one or two people can handle the accounts payable and receivable. Their concern is the money going in and out of an organization by tracking invoices and receipts.

Accounts payable handles all outgoing payments. These accounts refer to purchases, paying utility bills, and the like, but also include payroll, 401k matching, and other employee benefits to which the company contributes funds.

On the other side of the coin, accounts receivable handles all incoming payments. They ensure that they receive the money requested in client or account invoices.

Tax Accounting

Tax accountants are probably your favorite accountants because it means you don’t have to prepare your own taxes.

Tax accountants can work for individuals in organizations such as H&R Block, for companies and nonprofits as employees, or through third-party organizations hired during tax season.

They must have intimate knowledge of the tax code and can even be specialized further in different industries or nonprofit and for-profit organizations.

Finance Manager

A finance manager spends less time on the minutiae of an organization’s money and instead is in charge of the broader goals and situations.

They organize the entire finances of the organization or a specific department. Finance managers must work with other department heads or finance department members to ensure funds are allocated and spent correctly.

Finance managers analyze spending and income to help make decisions that facilitate the organization’s financial health.

Accounting Information Systems

For the more technically minded, there are always accounting information systems. They can be seen as the backbone of the accounting industry as they design and manage accounting software. This software is used on the individual level or at a huge scale.

Becoming an Accountant

Even if you aren’t necessarily financially oriented, specific hard and soft skills help you succeed in accounting. It’s a promising career for people who are:

  • Detail-oriented

  • Problem solvers

  • Math fans

  • Communicators (via reports or in person)

If that sounds like you, we recommend you perform the following steps to become an accountant.

Pencils, a calculator, and lists of figures.

Get a Degree

You can get started with general accounting and financial literacy courses, but the degree you pursue will dictate your career path. Some accounting jobs need a master’s, but most do not.

Many people start with a two-year associate degree, though many companies often prefer a bachelor’s.

To become a CPA, you’ll need 150 credits from an accredited institution to earn a master’s degree.

Get Working

Though, experience is the best teacher. Internships and entry-level jobs will give you the practical experience needed to succeed in your chosen field.

It also may open the door to different accounting careers or help you see other options and industries you hadn’t considered before.

Get Your Certifications

Passing the CPA exam isn’t required for all accountants, but it can give you a leg up on the competition due to the generalized knowledge it requires.

Though there are other routes, many micro-credentials can show employers that you studied and learned beyond your degree.

Become an Accountant With REDC

We have courses that further your knowledge and make you more appealing to employers, and we host job fairs and offer career counseling to open even more doors for you.

Look through our course catalog, or reach out with questions today.

Home LinkThe REDC is a Division of Yavapai College.Go to yc.edu

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