Accounting School Guide https://www.accountingschoolguide.com A Guide For Earning Your Accounting Degree Mon, 25 Jun 2018 19:03:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.7 The 15 Best Tax Tools Online https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/the-best-tax-tools-online/ Sat, 03 Mar 2018 22:36:01 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=1114

The IRS expects more than 80% of people to file taxes electronically this year, which comes out to around 124 million people.

The reasons are pretty simple: convenience, affordability, and accuracy. Compared to hiring a bookkeeper, CPA, or other accountant to file taxes on your behalf, most tax software services are cheaper and earn you the same refund. They’re also easy to use: answer a series of questions about your income, assets, and other financial information, and the program will determine the appropriate deductions. In most cases, if you’re not the exact form or schedule you need to be using, the service will help you there, too.

To help you find the best software for your needs, we’ve compiled a list below, including the most popular, affordable, and underrated tax tools for individuals, as well as the best accounting tools for small business owners. Price tiers are bulleted as well, but note they only cover federal filing; states may increase total costs.

The Most Popular Tax Software

Intuit TurboTax

PC Mag, NerdWallet, and The Wirecutter all rank Intuit TurboTax at or near #1 on their rankings for the best tax software, highlighting Intuit’s seamless user experience, comprehensive library of forms and schedules, and extensive help resources. (The Wirecutter has ranked it #1 for five years running.) As the software’s name suggests, users enjoy an intuitive interface that’s low on jargon and high on laymen’s terms. Plus, with more than 350 tax deductions to choose from, Intuit users maximize their refund potential. Additional features include live on-screen help, storage of past returns, and the option to import prior returns from competing tax software services.

  • Pricing Tiers: Free; Deluxe ($59.99); Premier ($79.99); Self-Employed ($119.99)

TaxAct

TaxAct combines ease-of-use, quality support, and excellent affordability. In addition to being one of the cheapest online programs, users are also guaranteed a price lock, meaning you won’t pile up unexpected fees for specialized forms or schedules. Better yet, TaxAct offers free phone support from a CPA or Enrolled Agent if you run into any problems. The language is simple, the interface is straightforward, and if you’re in a rush or without access to a computer, the mobile platform recently underwent a redesign (feel free to save your work and switch between devices, as well). The software does not include in-house auditing support, but partner services are available and include 3 years of service.

  • Pricing Tiers: Free; Classic ($17); Premium ($35); Self-Employed ($55)

H&R Block

With over 60 years of experience, H&R Block continues to be one of the industry’s most trusted tax preparation services, and its online software is no exception. Pages are navigable, the free software includes all three 1040 forms (1040EZ, 1040A and regular 1040 with a Schedule A), and H&R Block is making a concerted effort to become a top-tier destination for general support. First, there are over 12,000 brick-and-mortar stores across the U.S.: if you want human-to-human help, this is a good place to start. Second, for its premium software options, you’ll gain access to the Tax Pro Review, which consists of the company’s “most tenured and experienced tax professionals.”

  • Pricing Tiers: Free; Deluxe ($54.99); Premium ($74.99); Self-Employed ($94.99)

TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer’s premium price points are generally lower than the competition, with little decline in quality of service. Additional major highlights include an intuitive user experience, minimalist design, and wealth of support services. TaxSlayer’s unique error checker sends alerts (and in some cases autocorrects) filing mistakes, and the mobile app features a W-2 photo upload option: just snap a picture of your form, and the software autofills relevant information, saving you time and tedious data entry. Most tiers come with free auditing assistance (freelance and other Schedule C-filings do not), which includes up to 3 years of service. Last but not least, TaxSlayer guarantees a maximum tax refund or else offers a full refund of services.

  • Pricing Tiers: Free; Classic ($17); Premium ($35); Self-Employed ($55)

Popular Tax Software For Budget Filing

Liberty Tax

Liberty Tax has been around since 1997, but remains of the lesser-known tax services on the market. No more! Ranked among the best online tax prepare software by PC Mag, Liberty has a basic design and and comprehensive tax coverage. Its biggest detractor is no free filing and state files are slightly pricey. Still, for individuals, families, and small businesses with complex tax situations, you can actually save a lot of money in comparison to the competition. (The basic option is primarily designed for individuals with a W-2 who want to itemize deductions.) Plus, unlike many of its biggest competitors, Liberty offers free in-person support at any of its 4,000+ brick-and-mortar stores. Additional features include advance loan services and easy back-and-forth navigation.

  • Pricing Tiers: EZ ($14.95); Basic ($19.95); Deluxe ($39.95); Premium ($69.95)

Jackson Hewitt

Founded in 1992, Jackson Hewitt is primarily known for in-person accounting services and only recently entered into the software market. At times that inexperience shows: the interface and navigation are confusing, and the support section is spotty. Still, the company makes up for technical weaknesses with highly affordable price points and a 100% free option for federal and state returns on a 1040. The review process has been improved, and Jackson Hewitt users can file all major IRS forms and schedules. Free and premium users have an accuracy and maximum refund guarantee.

  • Pricing Tiers: Free; Families and Retirees ($34.95); Complex ($54.95)

FreeTax USA

Fast, free, no frills: that’s FreeTax USA’s calling card. Launched in 2001, the software is ideal for filers simple tax situations, but really anyone can stand to gain from the incredible affordable rates and comprehensive coverage, including Schedules A, B, C, D, E, and K. You’ll get immediate alerts for suspicious-looking entries, and customer support is excellent, particularly for the premium tier which receives priority service and live chat options. To be sure, FreeTax USA is a cut-rate preparation service, which comes with a few downsides. First, the site is a little clunky, and experts warn first-time filers may prefer a more seamless step-by-step interface; support at the free level is DIY and difficult to navigate. Nonetheless, for the price, FreeTax is tough to beat.

  • Pricing Tiers: Free; Deluxe ($6.99)

CreditKarma

CreditKarma is widely known as a personal finance and credit monitoring company, but debuted its tax preparation software in 2017. Of course, some growing pains are to be expected: while the platform boasts the same clean, crisp interface as the rest of the site, some contend that functionality remains a work in progress. Navigation can be difficult if you’ve never used the software before (which, given its launch date, is most), and help content is slim. That said, a new round-the-clock support chat is a nice feature, and – the kicker – CreditKarma is completely free. By that virtue, if you have a relatively simple tax situation and standard form or schedule, CreditKarma is definitely worth a shot.

  • Pricing Tiers: Free

IRS Free File

The IRS’s online Free File software is the ultimate DIY service: a truly free, independent, and old-fashioned tax methodology. For that reason, if you’re a first-time filer, there are probably better options: Free File has the full library of IRS tax forms and schedules, but offers zero support beyond the most basic instructions. All calculations are up to the filer, and you have to know how to fill out each form correctly. Obviously if you make a mistake, it’s on you. On the other hand, if you’re an experienced filer with a relatively un-complex tax situation, Free File is as good as it gets. All your information is saved by the session, and the layout and interface are clear. (Note: there are different modules for income above and below $66,000.)

  • Pricing Tiers: Free

Underrated Tax Software For Budget Filing

TaxPoint

TaxPoint is cheap, user-friendly, and expert-driven (founded and run by a CPA). Still, the most important feature remains overall service – does it work? – and though TaxPoint remains largely overlooked, it offers equal to superior results than some of the above brand names. Users have the option to file forms independently or via a guided interview plan similar to other tax software. The Federal Free Edition is ideal for 1040EZ, 1040A, and some W-2 forms, and includes free bilingual email, live chat, and phone support. Deluxe supports Schedule A and EIC (Earned Income Tax Credit) filers, and the Home & Business Edition offers a more nuanced review for freelancers, small business owners, investors, rental property owners, and farmers (Schedules C, D, E, and F.)

  • Pricing Tiers: Free; Deluxe ($14.95); Home & Business Edition ($34.95)

eSmart Tax

eSmart Tax is owned by Liberty Tax, which we profiled above; price points are similar, with eSmart offering a few more middle-of-the-road options and a lower max premium. That means broad flexibility: filers on a simple tax form will pay nothing; moderately complex filings – including for freelancers, small business owners, and landlords (Schedules C, D, and E) – have multiple tiers to choose from, many of which are cheaper than the most popular tax software. As with most services, users are guaranteed a maximum refund, and resources are extensive: form storage and importation, live chat support, free and enhanced audit options, and an extensive FAQ library.

  • Pricing Tiers: Free; Basic ($24.95); Deluxe ($38.95); Premium ($49.95)

E-file.com

E-file promises speed and savings: file your taxes in under 15 minutes and earn your refund as soon as possible. E-file offers a range of cheap to moderate price points at multiple tiers, all of which include an accuracy guarantee. Granted, this isn’t the most attractive or intuitive interface, and first-time filers might get confused with some minor DIY requirements; support content and customer service is mediocre to below average. Nonetheless, the software includes near comprehensive coverage and can be used for individuals, families, small business owners, and retirees. Particularly if you’re short on time or have a simple tax situation, E-file is worth checking out as a bang-for-your-buck.

  • Pricing Tiers: Free; Deluxe ($18.99); Premium Plus ($34.95)

Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses

QuickBooks

Synonymous with intuitive, user-friendly accounting, QuickBooks continues to be the go-to platform for small businesses. Functionality and flexibility are key, as is QuickBooks’ seamless setup wizard that will get you up and running in no time. From there, you can customize tools – Classes, Custom Transaction Numbers, Purchase Orders – as well as tailor layout, settings, and other tools to fit your business’s needs. Additional pros are comprehensive payroll support, transaction forms, and hundreds of add-ons. If you’re looking for the tried-and-true option, this is your best bet.

  • Pricing Tiers: Starts at $15 per month

Wave

Need a reason to try Wave? Here’s one: for many users it’s 100% free – not a bad start. Otherwise use of payments, payroll, and premium support go for $19 month. Either way it’s exceptionally cheap, which is why Wave is quickly becoming one of the most popular accounting software services for freelancers, contractors, sole proprietors, and entrepreneurs. Top-notch user experience is another key feature: few competitors match Wave’s interface in terms of clean, intuitive, and flexible use. Tools are customizable, and the standard double-entry setup keeps everything as simple as possible, checking off another must-have box for freelancers and self-employed professionals.

  • Pricing Tiers: Free for standard tools; $19 per month for premium services

Xero

Based out of New Zealand, Xero has been named the Forbes #1 Innovative Growth Company twice and hailed as Quickbooks’ biggest rival – with good reason. Like Quickbooks, Xero works for large and small businesses alike, with a wealth of customizable tools, advanced features, as well as add-on and integration opportunities. Compared to the two software options above, Xero may be slightly more difficult if you’re unfamiliar with accounting basics, but customer support is excellent, and the company offers access to a network of trained advisors. The starting price is very affordable but restrictive: you’ll be limited to five invoices and quotes, five bills, and reconciliation for 20 bank transactions (no payroll). The next tier up adds unlimited billing and invoice functionality as well as payroll for up to five people.

  • Pricing Tiers: Starts at $9 per month
  • ]]>
    Should I File Taxes with an Accountant or Tax Software? https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/should-i-file-taxes-with-an-accountant-or-tax-software/ Tue, 27 Feb 2018 17:11:16 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=1081 Taxes are no fun, but misfiled taxes are even worse. You can squander a refund, get mired in an IRS audit, or, worst of all, suffer the slings and arrows of both (unlikely but not impossible).

    Of course, in many ways, taxes are more complex than ever. The list of loopholes, exceptions, and bullet points runs the length of a fine-print novel. Just because you’ve filed your taxes one way the previous year, doesn’t mean you’ll file them the same way this year or the next. If you’ve married, had children, moved, switched jobs, bought a new house, or made any major purchases or investments (including 401k contributions, IRA contributions, etc.), those changes should be reflected in your taxes. So, yes, taxes in the 21st century are very complex.

    At the same time, few people calculate and file their taxes on their own these days – that is, without assistance from a CPA or accounting software. (If you still do your taxes with pen and pad, more power to you.) Not only do accountants and accounting software offer expertise and peace of mind, each option significantly simplifies an otherwise elephantine task.

    But how do you know which to choose? Below we break down the pros and cons of accountants vs. accounting software to help you find the best tax prep service for your needs.

    Filing Taxes with an Accountant – Pros

    There are several reasons to file taxes with an accountant in lieu of using accounting software. First and most important: personal accountability, pun unintended but apt. While filing your taxes online is convenient, you forfeit the one-on-one factor, and it’s generally harder to receive personal assistance if you have a specific question about your taxes. (Note: this is a very general statement. Most accounting programs do offer access to CPAs, but you might not be able to meet in person.)

    Personal accountants analyze all your assets – income, bank accounts, investments, properties, etc. – to provide tailored tax advice that maximizes your potential refund and guarantees correct filing. (Make sure to double check that last point: most reputable tax firms offer some kind of filing guarantee.) Accountants are especially useful if you have expect to have complex taxes; for instance, if you own your own business, have a long list of assets, or recently experienced a major life change (i.e., bought a house, married, or had a child). Personal accountants also offer timely and responsive service, which is especially helpful in crunch time.

    Filing Taxes with an Accountant – Cons

    The downside? Accountants can be expensive. CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) are the highest-ranking professionals in the industry and may charge $50 or more by the hour. Further, many CPAs will assign your taxes to a lower-ranking employee, such as a “bookkeeper.” In that case, it might make more financial sense to go directly to a bookkeeper to keep close track of your finances. Still, thanks to high-tech accounting software, even hiring a bookkeeper may be unnecessary. If you’re willing to put in a little more work, the DIY route could be a worthwhile money-saver.

    Filing Taxes with Accounting Software – Pros

    Nearly every major tax preparation company offers online services and software. The obvious advantage? Convenience. If you expect your taxes to be relatively straightforward – for instance, if expect to take a standard deduction – filing online can take as little as 15 minutes. (If you’ve saved your personal information from last year, it could take even less.) But even itemized deductions are easy: simply answer a series of questions about your year to help determine what you owe or what you’re owed.

    The other major draw is affordability. Depending on your tax form, some services are free. Specialized forms require a premium, but services are still less expensive than hiring an hourly accountant and similarly rigorous. Like using a personal accountant, most accounting software services offer a filing guarantee, and individual accountants are available for advising (though, as mentioned, services may vary). Lastly, if you’re an independent contractor, freelancer, or business owner, bookkeeping software like Quicken or Intuit allows you to cut costs and streamline personal finance management.

    Filing Taxes with Accounting Software – Cons

    But in reality, unless your taxes are textbook basic, you might have to consult an accountant at some point. Some accounting software questions are simple: how much income did you earn last year? Others are more nuanced. Want to qualify for the work-from-home tax credit? You’ll need to be able to prove that you meet the minimum hours, plus the minimum designated work space: in the event of an audit, the IRS requires you to have the equivalent of a home office to take the credit (that includes a specific foot-by-foot requirement). In other words, your living room can’t double as your office. Tax prep software is great if the majority of your tax questions are surface-level; the more particular your taxes, the less effective accounting software will be, meaning lost refunds and increased auditing risk.

    Whatever Your Method, File Taxes Confidently

    Every tax season is different, and every tax filing features new challenges. If you’re not sure about the best filing service, ask a coworker or a friend with a similar professional/financial background; each can provide context to help make a carefully considered decision. Alternatively, if your company has an in-house accountant or accounting department, ask for guidance. Plenty of other online resources are available as well, and be sure to do your homework on individual services beforehand.

    The main thing is to file confidently. No one wants to worry about missed refunds or audits every April. Start early, ask questions, and look for the service that fits your individual needs. Taxes may not be fun, but the right help goes a long way.

    ]]>
    Salary of Bachelor’s in Accounting Degree Holders https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/salary-of-bachelors-in-accounting-degree-holders/ Wed, 29 Nov 2017 21:30:05 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=916 > A common reason people get into accounting is because it provides stable, lucrative work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found the 2016 median pay for accountants and auditors was $68,150, or $32.76 per hour. There were nearly 1.4 million accounting or […]]]> Skip to our picks for the 10 best online bachelor’s in accounting of 2018>>

    A common reason people get into accounting is because it provides stable, lucrative work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found the 2016 median pay for accountants and auditors was $68,150, or $32.76 per hour. There were nearly 1.4 million accounting or auditing jobs in 2016, and BLS predicted a 10% growth between 2016-26, which is faster than average. This change is expected to result in approximately 140,300 new accounting jobs. As you can see, there’s a lot of room for growth in this field, especially where accounting intersects with lucrative businesses like the tech industry, healthcare, marijuana and robotics. When thinking about salary, remember that many high ranking financial executives at top corporations, non-profits, financial institutions and other organizations began their careers as accountants. People tend to trust and promote people who are sticklers for efficiency, frugality and put the organizations before themselves, all of which is essential to accounting. Let’s take a look at the salaries of people who have Bachelor’s in accounting, and what influences them.

    Entry Level Accounting Jobs

    Right from the outset, a competent accountant with a Bachelor’s degree has options that pay much more than the national average salary. A position working within the government is a great way to build prestige, and work towards higher pay, benefits and a pension. The National Security Agency is currently looking for an Accountant/Finance & Accounting Analyst, who will earn between $44,941 and $71,467 a year. It requires a Bachelor’s degree in accounting or a business-related field with at least 24 credit hours of accounting. Government jobs sometimes don’t require a CPA license, especially for entry level positions. Bachelor graduates also often work as junior accountants, audit associates, or accounting analysts, but most add certifications or further education to achieve more within the field.

    Skills Associated with Higher Pay in Accounting

    Accounting is a massive field, and while it most often begins with a Bachelor’s Degree, advancing will require further education, certifications and skills building. Skills that are associated with higher pay in Accounting include financial reporting, financial analysis, general ledger accounting, budget management and financial applications. Accountants need to be extremely organized, detail obsessed, creative, comforting, trustworthy and demonstrate advanced time management skills. Those that do will be significantly rewarded, and it’s important to remember that certain personality traits and skills are just as important as degrees, connections and certifications in accounting.

    Certifications Associated with Higher Salaries in Accounting

    Bachelor’s in Accounting are often paired with ubiquitous, desired certifications, depending on what you want to do in accounting. If you’re working for a publicly traded company, you’ll need a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. But for example, if you work for the government, you may not need one. Another common certification is the CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner), for those looking to work against fraud in their accounting careers. There are many other certifications that are associated with higher salaries in accounting, and a guide mapping them out can be found here. There’s an interesting overlap between accounting and the blossoming tech industry that can be bridged by Certified Information Systems Auditors who pass the CISA exam. CISA’s make sure an organization’s IT/business systems are monitored, controlled and guarded. They also have an average salary of $73,279. There’s going to be more and more need for people with this certification, and if you work for the right startup, there’s potential to get equity for your work.

    Locations Associated with Higher Salaries in Accounting

    In 2015, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) wrote a guide to the top 15 cities for accounting careers, looking at employment, salary and their respective economies. The cities that made the list were Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Raleigh, Richmond, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Seattle, and San Mateo. Pascal lists San Francisco, Washington state, New York, Chicago and Houston at the top of its list of areas associated with higher pay in accounting. Comparatively, Payscale found Miami was associated with lower paying jobs for accountants.

    Lucrative Accounting Jobs

    The top 10% of accountants are making over $100,000 a year, some far in excess of it. Remember, top accountants in corporate structures can become Chief Financial Officers, or hold other high executive positions. This won’t come overnight, but through a Bachelor’s education, supplementary certifications like the CPA, CISA or CFE and (if you decide to) graduate education, you can build credentials to help you on your way. High paying accounting jobs include Managerial Accountants, Tax Accountants, Government Accountants and more. For a good overview of high paying accounting jobs, head to this guide.

    There’s a wide range of salaries that Accounting Bachelor’s degree holders earn. Those in the lowest ten percent are making under $40,000 a year. But that definitely doesn’t have to be you. By improving your resume with subsequent certifications, picking good locations and industries, and perhaps going to graduate school, you can join the upper ranks of accounting. Speaking of graduate education, here’s an excellent guide for online Masters in Accounting.

    ]]>
    What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s in Accounting Degree? https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/what-can-i-do-with-a-bachelors-in-accounting-degree/ Tue, 28 Nov 2017 18:28:21 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=912 > Accounting will always be a highly demanded field, so long as individuals, businesses and organizations pay taxes, have budgets and finances. Our system is based on accounting, and many people find the work enjoyable, simple and rewarding. While there’s a wide […]]]> Skip to our picks for the 10 best online bachelor’s in accounting of 2018>>

    Accounting will always be a highly demanded field, so long as individuals, businesses and organizations pay taxes, have budgets and finances. Our system is based on accounting, and many people find the work enjoyable, simple and rewarding. While there’s a wide range of positions that require different responsibilities, as an accountant you’ll likely gather data through accounting software, analyze it, determine results of what you’ve found and inform your client or organization about your findings. For those who want to work and part of the year, accountants often have a busy season, and a relatively light one. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found the 2016 median pay for accountants and auditors was $68,150, or $32.76 per hour. There were nearly 1.4 million accounting or auditing jobs in 2016, and BLS predicted a 10% growth between 2016-26, which is faster than average. This will translate into approximately 140,300 new jobs. Accountants often start with a Bachelor’s degree, then supplement it with certifications, especially the CPA. CPA licensing, as well as most major accounting certifications, require graduate-level accounting credits (short of a master’s degree, but more than a bachelor’s). For this reason, many accountants start working with a bachelor’s and accrue additional accounting credit over the first few years of their career.

    Entry Level Accounting Jobs

    Looking at Indeed, it’s clear that there are many roles graduates of Bachelor’s accounting programs can enter that are lucrative. Working for government is a good way to break into the business. The National Security Agency is currently looking for an Accountant/Finance & Accounting Analyst, who will earn between $44,941 and $71,467 a year. It requires a Bachelor’s degree in accounting or a business-related field with at least 24 credit hours of accounting. Government jobs are usually more lenient in terms of requiring a CPA license, especially for entry level positions. There were many other comparable positions where bachelor graduates work as junior accountants, audit associates, or accounting analysts, although it’s likely that a certification will follow to get promoted to more coveted positions.

    Top Earning Jobs in Accounting Jobs

    Part of what you’re probably looking to do with a Bachelor’s in Accounting is provide a good living for yourself and your family. In the upper echelon on accountants (top 10%), it’s common to make $100,000+ a year. Extremely competent, loyal and effective accountants in corporate structures rise up the ranks quickly. They can end up as Chief Financial Officers, or hold other high executive positions.
    This starts with a Bachelor’s education, then often includes more certifications and graduate education. High paying accounting jobs include Managerial Accountants, Tax Accountants, Government Accountants and more. For a good overview of high paying accounting jobs, head to this guide.

    Important Certifications in Accounting

    While a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting is an extremely important first step towards a career in the field, there are certifications that further cement your role as an accountant. If you want to be permitted to confirm the audits of publicly traded companies, you’ll need a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. Some accountants who don’t file those reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission can work without this certification, but for many roles it’s a requirement. When looking at programs in Accounting, you’ll want to consider one that meets requirements (or has an easy track towards doing so after earning a Bachelor’s) set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in order to take the CPA exam. Also check out the requirements in your state, which sets its own standards for qualifying for the exam. 47 states and Washington D.C. require that Bachelor’s degree holders take extra courses to reach a 150-credit minimum to sit for the CPA exam. Often, those extra credits become a master’s degree or graduate certificate in accountancy. Another certification to consider is the CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner). It’s primarily for people who want to combat fraud in their accounting careers. These are just two of the many accounting certifications that are associated with higher salaries in the field. To learn more about them, check out this guide on the most lucrative accounting certifications that can be found here. A final certification to research is the Certified Information Systems Auditors or CISA exam. CISA’s make sure an organization’s IT/business systems are monitored, controlled and guarded. They also have an average salary of $73,279. Synergy between accounting and the tech industry is a great way to double dip in two stable, growing industries.

    Earning an Associate’s in Accounting

    You may not be ready for a Bachelor’s in accounting just yet. If so, you might consider an Associate in Accounting. There are positions that A good list of Associate’s programs in Accounting can be junior, entry level accounting positions that can be done by Associate holders, and you’re on your way to earning a Bachelor’s. A good guide on online accounting Associate programs can be found here.

    There’s no limit to what you can do with a Bachelor’s in Accounting, especially if you’re willing to see it as a springboard to more certifications, immediate job opportunities, graduate education and a willingness to learn and work hard.

    ]]>
    Should I Get a Bachelor’s in Accounting? https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/should-i-get-a-bachelors-in-accounting/ Mon, 27 Nov 2017 22:38:32 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=908 Accounting is a reliable, well compensated profession in a barren economic landscape. Accountants often report high job satisfaction, can get large portions of the year off (especially if they start their own practices), and can quickly become relevant in the field. Most accountants have 1-4 years experience, and can climb their way up the ladder through certifications, or specializing in different aspects of accounting. If you love order, organization and having control of your corner of the world, accounting might be the career for you. If you enjoy math, especially arithmetic and analyzing numbers to determine their meaning, this career path is a great fit. Common duties of accountants include writing sales and cash flow reports, administering payroll, compiling balance sheets, enabling billing activities, managing budgets and keeping inventory. Accountants often go on to become Financial Analysts, Accounting Managers, Financial Controllers, and can eventually work their way of the Chief Financial Officer, Finance Manager, Senior Financial Analyst and other comparable roles. Most importantly, if you want to begin a career in accounting, holding a Bachelor’s degree is an incredibly important first step towards doing so. If you’re looking to continue researching the educational options in this career path, check out this ranking of online Bachelor accounting programs.

    Facts and Outlook On Accounting Jobs for Bachelor’s Degree Holders

    Perhaps the most important stat about accounting, and how it relates to holding a bachelor’s degree in the field, is that 98% of accounting job posts require applicants to have at least a bachelor’s degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found the 2016 median pay for accountants and auditors was $68,150, or $32.76 per hour. There were almost 1.4 million accounting or auditing jobs in 2016, and BLS predicted a 10% growth between 2016-26, which is faster than average. There will be approximately 140,300 new jobs added over that time. Another cool part of accounting is the field welcomes newcomers, and facilitates working while earning a degree.

    Qualities of Accountants

    If you’re a precise, practical person who loves paperwork and numbers, a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting is probably a good fit. Accountants are indispensable to their clients and organizations, which can make the work extremely fulfilling. Are you great at managing time? An accountant needs an urgent sense of how long any task will take, how to shorten that time, and how each piece of the puzzle fits together. If their work isn’t done correctly, and on time, there can be serious consequences, so accountants need to thrive under pressure and deadlines. They also need to be client or organization focused, and a selfless, open personality will help put those they do accounting for at ease, leading to more work and higher rewards. People and organizations trust accountants with extremely sensitive details about their finances and lives, so they must be extremely trustworthy. Are you the person your friends always want to manage money, or trust to take care of their possessions? This might make accounting a more natural fit for you.

    Affordable Online Accounting Degrees and Accounting Scholarships

    Paying for a Bachelor’s degree, even online, can be prohibitive to some. While there are a range of programs with very different pricing for this field, you might also want to look into financial aid and scholarships. A good resource is this list of thirty scholarships for accounting majors. If you’re looking to get tuition assistance, scholarships and find an affordable program, you should peruse this list of less expensive options that match your needs.

    Earning an Associate’s in Accounting

    Maybe you’re not sure about accounting, but want to get your feet wet. That’s OK. There’s a lot of pressure to know what you want to do before you may be ready to commit, so you might want to consider a less intensive accounting program to start your journey. A good list of Associate’s programs in Accounting can be found here.

    High Paying Accounting Jobs

    Let’s face it, you didn’t become interested in accounting to be poor. People who like dealing with numbers, especially as they pertain to money want some of their own. As we’ve discussed, even the median pay for accountants is higher than most jobs. But the highest 10% of accountants are making over $100,000 a year, and you’d like to be among their ranks. With certifications and perhaps graduate education, you can get there, but this path often starts with a Bachelor’s in Accounting. High paying accounting jobs include Managerial Accountants, Tax Accountants, Government Accountants and more. For a good overview of high paying accounting jobs, head to this guide.

    You may not know exactly what you’re going to do with your life. That’s OK, most people don’t. But the skills you’ll learn in an accounting program are transferrable to many different fields, and will give you tangible, marketable skills, something that many Bachelor programs don’t. Take stock of your strengths, interests, and do some research, and you’ll surely make the right choice.

    ]]>
    A Small Business and Internet User’s Guide to Cyber Security Threats [Infographic] https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/a-small-business-and-internet-users-guide-to-cyber-security-threats-infographic/ Thu, 17 Aug 2017 14:36:38 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=740 We recently found this outstanding graphic on CyberSecurityDegrees.com which highlights one of the many ways in which risk management and successful accounting relies on common sense and ‘street smarts’ (well, internet street smarts). No matter your accounting acumen, losing valuable financial information through one of the many ways in which hackers target valuable financial information can undo any gains made by quality accounting.

    A Small Business and Internet User's Guide to Cyber Attacks [Infographic]
    Source: CyberSecurityDegrees.com

    ]]>
    What is the difference between a Finance and Accounting Degree? https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/what-is-the-difference-between-a-finance-and-accounting-degree/ Mon, 31 Jul 2017 17:53:51 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=701 Suppose you’ve always been good with numbers and the have the kind of ordered, analytical mind that lends itself to precise details. Plus, you’re adept at statistics and data mining. Logically then, as you begin researching your post-secondary school career options, you might consider degrees in finance or accounting, two similar and yet vastly different occupational fields.

    Actually, you’ll find that as you begin your search it’s best to take an overview of all your options. At the earliest stages of study, a student seeking a degree in finance or in accounting takes the same required introductory courses, but while there are many similarities between the two specialties, they are two distinctly separate disciplines with vastly different coursework offered during your post graduate years.

    The main difference between the two disciplines is that those who work in finance typically focus on planning and directing the financial transactions for an organization, while those who work in accounting focus on recording and reporting on those transactions. Accounting is the organization and management of financial information; finance is the management of money.

    So the coursework in undergraduate school, after basic requirements, point students in different directions. The concentration for a finance degree is more mathematics-intensive and focused on financial markets, portfolio and investment management theory, financial management, investments and security analysis and valuation. Courses for finance degrees are often more evaluative and analytical than accounting courses.

    An Accounting Career

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job description, accountants prepare and examine either a corporation’s finances or someone’s personal finances. Accountants manage the general ledger and cash flow. They ensure that financial records are accurate and that taxes are paid properly and on time. The job outlook, as projected from 2014 through 2024, shows an 11 percent increase. The median salary is $69,150 a year, according to the BLS 2016 figures.

    Careers include: auditors, bookkeepers, accounts receivable clerks, accounts payable clerks, treasurers and tax accountants.

    How to Get There from here: Degree Options in Accounting:

    A certificate in Accounting is a good idea for those folks wanting to learn basic accounting concepts, like bookkeeping. How do you get such a certificate? 10 courses usually are sufficient to satisfy the requirements.

    For those interested in an associates degree in accounting there are many quality online options. With this type of degree, graduates can land bookkeeper and accounting clerk jobs. While it’s limited in terms of opportunities, students that graduate can move easily into a bachelor’s degree. The average time of completion for an associates degree in accounting is two years.

    Many universities have business schools that offer bachelors degree programs that include coursework in accounting and business strategy. With a bachelors degree in accounting, graduates are qualified for auditing, financial planning, consulting and technical accounting jobs.
    Earning a master’s degree in accounting will require an extra year beyond a bachelors degree, but the increase in your earning power will be well worth the effort. With a concentration in tax accounting or auditing, your path to higher paying positions in the accounting field will be secure.

    After earning a masters degree in accounting, some students might want to take the next step forward and earn a PhD. Know that this will require years of additional study but it does open you up to additional opportunities, such as work as budget analysts, accountant management and other types of managerial jobs.

    A career in high finance

    How to Get There from here: Degree Options in Finance

    You’ll need a bachelors degree in business to embark upon a career in financing. Finance is a wide open field that can range from corporate finance to personal financial planning. Someone with a masters degree in finance can find lucrative work as an investment banker, financial broker, or planner.

    According to the BLS, job growth over a 10 year period from 2014-2024 is 16%. The average median salary for someone with a bachelors degree with a concentration in finance is $69,184. Depending on your career goals, however, compensation can be considerably higher than that, according to the BLS. For example, a financial analyst with “just” a bachelor’s degree (entry level) can expect to earn on average, more than $81,000 a year. Check out the BLS page on financial careers for more information.

    ]]>
    What Can I Do With a Masters in Taxation? https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/what-can-i-do-with-a-masters-in-taxation/ Fri, 28 Jul 2017 20:59:43 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=695 General Introduction

    While no one disputes that it is a great accomplishment for undergraduates to have earned an online accounting degree with a concentration on taxation, the complexity of today’s tax code plus the uncertainty of the new administration’s attempts to alter the tax code, make your intention to pursue an online masters in taxation a wise decision.

    As you know, tax laws are in flux. The tax world is changing. What used to be the basic job of someone with an accounting degree specializing in taxation: turning financial statements into tax statements and inserting numbers into forms, are now largely mechanized functions done through computer programs.
    So, is it really worthwhile to get a master’s degree in taxation? Judging by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the answer is a resounding yes. But be aware that job outlook projections by the BLS vary according to the field you enter with your masters degree. And, of course, the location and pay structure of the company will be factors in pay compensaton.

    Note: It doesn’t seem to matter if the degree is earned attending the school campus, or as is increasingly the case, an online degree. Just make sure the school is accredited.

    Having a masters degree in taxation increases your value to a company. You’ll be valued for your ability to help with acquisitions, save companies money, and strategize for global expansion. Think of yourself as more of a business partner. And your job prospects, and compensation potential after getting that online masters in taxation are evidence of a good return on your investment of time and money.
    Taxation professionals work with individuals, small businesses, nonprofits or corporations. Many are employed as certified public accountants, financial advisers and chief financial officers. All of these skills are part of your preparation for taxation careers, and key components (you should seek) as you look for the best online accounting degree with a concentration in taxation.
    What follows are career paths someone with a masters degree in taxation can take.

    Potential Job Roles for Masters in Taxation Holders

    Certified Public Accountant: Besides preparing individual taxes, CPAs often advise clients on issues related to their taxes and income. A master’s degree in taxation is not required for this position, but there is a requirement that most states impose of having 150 credits of college coursework to be eligible for the Uniform CPA Exam, through which states license certified public accountants. According to the BLS, job prospects for accountants and auditors are expected to increase 11% between 2014 and 2024. The latest data on salaries, 2016, shows a median salary of $68,150.

    Financial Adviser: Will assess the financial needs of individuals, corporations or nonprofits. Advisers help their clients plan for both long-term and short-term goals, including education expenses, retirement plans, budgeting and general investments. The BLS projects that financial advisers will see a 30% uptick in job opportunities from 2014-2024, probably due to millennials now starting to accrue wealth. Financial advisers earned median salaries of $123,100 in 2016. For personal financial advisors, the average median salary (2014) is $81,060.

    Chief Financial Officer: A path to the C-suite. Ultimately, having a masters in taxation is the foundation needed to become a chief financial officer. The CFO is responsible for the finances of a corporation. Job responsibilities include reviewing financial risks, creating business plans and keeping financial records. The CFO may analyze the financial data within a company and report his or her findings to the company’s board of directors and CEOs. According to PayScale.com, the median salary among CFOs was $ $121,942 as of January 2016.

    Overall, looking at the BLS and websites such as Study.com, you’ll notice a trend: a demand for new tax practitioners regularly exceeds the number of students available for placement, particularly for the Big Four accounting firms. There simply aren’t enough tax people to go around. So be diligent, take your time, and be smart in your choice of schools offering a masters in taxation.

    ]]>
    How do I Become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)? https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/how-do-i-become-a-certified-public-accountant-cpa/ Tue, 20 Jun 2017 16:51:00 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=690 General Introduction

    Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) help people with a range of financial needs, from the taxation and audit of private persons, to the collection and forensic investigation of governmental organizations and public corporations. With laws and statutes that govern the financial responsibilities of private citizens, companies, and public organizations in a constant state of flux, today’s CPA needs to have a keen sense of the need to adapt to an ever-changing profession. This is especially true when economic and tax reform are being discussed at the highest levels of governance. In times like these, Certified Public Accountants will be in high demand, because they are some of the most qualified professionals to not only ensure that their clients comply with changes to the old system, but also to advise the movers, shakers, and decision-makers developing a new one.

    So the future is bright for anyone who aspires to become a Certified Public Accountant, a career path for which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 11% job growth between 2014-2024. Jobs await them in literally every industry, because every industry has companies and organizations, and every organization or company has costs that a CPA can work to reduce or improve. And because the work of a CPA is never finished—that is, because their work is highly specialized and personalized, not to mention dependant upon human variables such as client needs and financial laws that change regularly —it is unlikely the profession will be hurt badly by automation, something which is an unfortunate possibility for accounting jobs that don’t require as much specialization or human interaction as the CPA.

    Salary Information

    The median salary for those who go on to earn their Certified Public Accounting (CPA) license is $73,800, according to a leading authority for helping CPAs pass their qualifying exam. Other leading authorities, such as PayScale stake the median salary of their CPAs at $62,660, a number based on 3,646 individuals reporting throughout the United States. Still others, like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, report a median salary of $68,150, but specifically for CPAs with the job title of Accountant or Auditor. As with all professions, the amount an individual with the requisite qualifications will make is contingent upon a number of variables, location, experience, and job title chief among them. However, it should be noted that on the high end of all CPA salary reports (i.e., the top 25%), most salaries reported are well-above the $100,000 mark.

    Skillsets

    In order to perform their jobs on a most basic level, Certified Public Accountants need to have mastered the essential skillsets of mathematics, organization, planning, and personal and public finance. Because CPAs work within the service industry known as “assurance services,” they generally have the goal of providing specialized financial information to key decision-makers in order to assure they make the most informed decisions regarding their finances. That also means CPAs should have good people skills, since they will very likely be interacting with the clients whom they serve on a regular basis.

    On a more technical level, CPAs should also be comfortable with the most common accounting software used in the industry, such as QuickBooks and Sage, as well as be aware of new paperless technology trends in the profession, such as cloud-based accounting, providing online forms to clients, and asking for e-signatures. In other words, instead of worrying about being replaced by technology, today’s CPA should be working to master it.

    And now for the intangibles. There are certain character traits a CPA should have that are difficult to find and replace, such as the ability to keep a secret under any circumstances in order to protect client confidentiality, as well as the desire to learn something new every day to remain both certified and in compliance with the law. CPAs should also have a high degree of patience for sifting through clients’ sometimes poorly kept financial records, as well as for dealing with the often lengthy process of submitting and receiving approval from various governmental bureaus.

    Job Description

    The job description of a Certified Public Accountant will vary depending on area of finance in which they’d like to specialize. Some of the most common areas of specialization for CPAs are tax accounting, audit accounting, and forensic accounting, areas which, if chosen during a degree program that is ultimately completed, can earn them public sector jobs with governmental organizations such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). But most CPAs also work more generally and in the private sector as consultants and corporate executives, such as Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and Chief Financial Planners (CFPs).

    But speaking in the broadest possible terms, every CPA will be expected to carry out the responsibility of ensuring that the organization or individual for which they work is avoiding bankruptcy, complying with the laws that govern its finances, maximizing revenue from all its sources of income, and filing reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

    Necessary Education and Experience

    In order to become a CPA who can file reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, prospective accounting professionals should strive to accomplish the following three goals:

    • Earn a bachelor’s degree and 150 credit hours (or the equivalent) from an accredited institution of higher education.
    • Sit for and pass the Uniform CPA Exam in the state you’d like to be licensed.
    • Gain work experience as a certified accountant

    Most states ask the accountants they certify to have two years’ work experience in order to be considered licensed after they pass the Uniform CPA Exam. This work experience should also be verified by someone who is already a licensed CPA. Certified Public Accountants should also plan to take part in and complete continuing professional education courses on a regular basis in order to maintain their licensure.

    Helpful Resources

    You can start your journey to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) through a number of bachelor’s degree programs, all of which offer preparation to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam. There are also a number of associate’s degree programs, whose extra credit hours will help to better situate the prospective CPA as they work to satisfy all 150 hours they need to sit for the exam.

    For an overall perspective of accounting, as well as your educational path to success in this field, see our Accounting FAQ Section. On our homepage, you’ll also find features and infographics on fraud and tax scams, tax loopholes, and other topics relevant to CPAs and the accounting profession.

    If you want to go all the way to ensure you get your CPA license, see our ranking of the best master’s degrees in accounting to maximize your likelihood of both sitting for and passing the Uniform CPA Exam.

    Below, you’ll find a list of the most important professional organizations for CPAs to become familiar with, as well as a directory to find the degree program that best suits your accounting career goals:

    ]]>
    How do I become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)? https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/how-do-i-become-a-certified-financial-planner-cfp/ Tue, 20 Jun 2017 16:40:41 +0000 https://www.accountingschoolguide.com/?p=687 General Introduction

    Certified Financial Planners (CFPs) help people with a range of financial services, from large-scale financial advisement as investment bankers, stock brokers, and Chief Financial Officers, to small-scale personal financial planning as retirement counselors, insurance managers, and estate planners. With laws and statutes that govern the financial responsibilities of private citizens, companies, and public organizations in a constant state of flux, today’s CFP needs to have a keen sense of their need to adapt to an ever-changing profession. This is especially true when economic and financial reform are being discussed at the highest levels of governance. In times like these, Certified Financial Planners will be in high demand, because they are some of the most qualified professionals to not only ensure that clients are meeting their financial goals as changes occur to the old system, but also that the movers, shakers, and decision-makers are developing a new system that takes their clients into consideration.

    So the future is bright for anyone who aspires to become a Certified Financial Planner, a career path for which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 30% job growth between 2014-2024. Jobs await them in literally every industry, because every industry has companies and organizations, and every organization or company has investment strategies that a CFP can work to improve. And because the work of a CFP is never finished—that is, because a Certified Financial Planner’s work is highly specialized and personalized, not to mention dependant upon human variables such as client needs and financial laws that change regularly—it is unlikely the profession will be hurt badly by automation, something which is an unfortunate possibility for financial jobs that don’t require as much specialization or human interaction as the CFP.

    Salary Information

    According to a lead authority on investment planning, the median salary for individuals who earn their Certified Financial Planning (CFP) license is above average, not to mention a contributing factor to the high job satisfaction reported by Certified Financial Planners. Other leading authorities, such as PayScale stake the median salary of their CFPs at $66,348, a number based on 731 individuals reporting throughout the United States. Still others, like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, report a median salary of $90,530, but specifically for CFPs with the job title of Personal Financial Advisor. As with all professions, the amount an individual with the requisite qualifications will make depends upon a number of variables, including geographic location, job title, and years of experience. However, it should be noted that on the high end of all CFP salary reports (i.e., the top 25%), most salaries reported are well-above the $100,000 mark.

    Skillset

    In order to perform their jobs on a day-to-day basis, Certified Financial Planners need to have mastered basic skillsets in mathematics, organization, planning, and personal and public finance. Because CFPs work within the service industry known as “assurance services,” they generally have the goal of providing specialized financial information to key decision-makers in order to assure they make the most informed decisions regarding their finances. That also means CFPs should have good people skills, since they will very likely be interacting with the clients whom they serve on a regular basis.

    On a more technical level, CFPs should also be comfortable with the most common financial advising software used in the industry, such as MoneyGuidePro, NaviPlan Select, and Money Tree, as well as be aware of new paperless trends in the profession, such as using cloud-based financial planning software, providing online forms to clients, and asking for e-signatures. In other words, rather than worrying about being replaced by technology, today’s CFP should be working to master it.

    And now for the intangibles. There are certain character traits a CFP should have that are difficult to find and replace, such as the ability to keep a secret under any circumstances in order to protect client confidentiality, as well as the desire to learn something new every day to remain both certified and in compliance with the law. CFPs should also have a high degree of patience for sifting through clients’ sometimes poorly kept financial records, as well as for dealing with the legal hurdles to wealth protection in the most ethical way possible.

    Job Description

    The job description of a Certified Financial Planner will vary depending on area of finance in which they’d like to specialize. Some of the most common areas of specialization for CFPs are investment planning, risk management and insurance planning, retirement planning, tax planning, estate planning, and cash flow and liability management, areas which, if chosen during a degree program that is ultimately completed, can earn them private sector jobs with mutual companies, insurance companies, and big banks. But many CFPs also work for themselves and with individual clients as personal financial and family planners.

    But speaking in the broadest possible terms, every CFP will be expected to carry out the responsibility of ensuring that the organization or individual for which they work is taking steps to avoid bankruptcy, protect its investments, comply with the laws that govern its finances, and maximize revenue from all its sources of income.

    Necessary Education and Experience

    In order to become an authorized CFP who can use the designation in their job title, prospective financial planners should strive to accomplish the following four goals:

    • Earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education.
    • Sit for and pass the CFP Board Certification Examination.
    • Gain work experience as a certified financial planner
    • Demonstrate adherence to the CFP Board Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, as well as the Financial Planning Practice Standards.

    The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) ask the CFPs they certify upon examination to have three years’ full-time work experience in one or more of 6 areas: Establishing and Defining the Client Relationship, Gathering Client Data and Goals, Analyzing and Evaluating the Client’s Financial Status, Developing and Presenting Financial Planning Recommendations and Alternatives, Implementing the Financial Planning Recommendations, and Monitoring the Financial Planning Recommendations.

    In addition, two years of full-time work experience as an apprentice, while under the supervision of an authorized CFP professional, and a focus on practicing within all six of these areas of financial planning may also be accepted in order for prospective CFPs to be authorized after they pass the CFP Exam. Certified Financial Plannerants should also plan to take part in and complete continuing education courses on a regular basis in order to maintain their licensure.

    Helpful Resources

    You can start your journey to become a Certified Financial Plannerant (CFP) through a number of accounting bachelor’s degree programs, all of which can prepare students to sit for the CFP Exam. There are also a number of associate’s degree programs, which can often help prospective CFPs reach their educational goals at less cost.

    For an overall perspective of accounting, as well as your educational path to success in this field, see our Accounting FAQ Section. On our homepage, you’ll also find features and infographics on fraud and tax scams, tax loopholes, and other topics relevant to CFPs and the financial planning profession.

    If you want to go all the way to ensure you get your CFP license, see our ranking of the best master’s degrees in accounting to maximize your likelihood of both sitting for and passing the CFP Exam.

    Below, you’ll find a list of the most important professional organizations for CFPs to become familiar with, as well as a directory to find the degree program that best suits your accounting career goals:

    ]]>