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What can you do with an accounting degree?

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By Brian Fairbanks

Kathryn Uhles, MIS, MSP, Dean, College of Business and IT

Reviewed by Kathryn Uhles, MIS, MSP, Dean, College of Business and IT

A calculator with a graduation cap to signify an accounting degree

Are you considering becoming an accountant or getting your bachelor’s degree in accounting? Do you want a better understanding of the differences between accounting and accountancy? An online accounting degree can prepare you for the various roles in accounting and open the door to many possibilities, such as potentially starting your own business.

Whether you’re interested in forensic accounting, bookkeeping or tax preparation, a bachelor’s degree in accounting can provide the skills and foundation for a career as an accountant.

If a career in accounting is something you’re thinking about, set yourself on the path with these answers to frequently asked questions about accountants and accounting degrees and see why the profession may be the right choice for you.

What do you learn with an accounting degree? 

An accounting program can teach you what you need to know as an accountant in the real world helping organizations run efficiently and make proper financial decisions. Here’s just the beginning of what you’ll learn:

  • How to evaluate accounting and financial information to influence financial decisions
  • Integration of ethical, legal and accounting standards and assumptions
  • Integration of business practices into financial and accounting operations
  • Auditing and taxation best practices
  • Standard accounting industry software
  • Financial and managerial accounting
  • Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)

Careers with an accounting degree 

An accounting degree can provide the foundational skills for a wide range of accounting careers, including bookkeeping, forensic accounting or auditing. Some accountants may wish to open their own firms; others may choose to work their way up the corporate ladder.

For many roles in this field, a graduate degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA), usually isn’t required for entry-level roles. A bachelor’s degree can provide the necessary foundation to help you get started in the following careers:


Accountants can work in different settings, from government agencies to private corporations. That flexibility provides plenty of opportunities for accounting graduates. Accountants’ primary job is to prepare and examine financial records. In doing so, they can identify potential opportunities and risks as well as solutions for businesses.

There are typically two types of accountants: private accountants and public accountants. While both types perform many of the same functions, public accountants typically need to take additional courses and receive certifications.

An accountant computes the taxes a person or organization owes and prepares their tax returns to ensure accuracy and timeliness of remittance. For this reason, accountants need robust math and analytical skills. They also need strong attention to detail and the ability to clearly communicate with their clients.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) records that accountants earned a salary range of $50,440 to $137,280 in May 2023 (with a median wage of $79,880). To become an accountant, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree, and BLS projects 4% growth in the industry between 2022 and 2032.

Salary ranges are not specific to students or graduates of University of Phoenix. Actual outcomes vary based on multiple factors, including prior work experience, geographic location and other factors specific to the individual. University of Phoenix does not guarantee employment, salary level or career advancement. BLS data is geographically based. Information for a specific state/city can be researched on the BLS website.

BLS Occupational Employment Projections, 2022-2032 is published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This data reflects BLS’ projections of national (not local) conditions. These data points are not specific to University of Phoenix students or graduates.


Auditors have a similar function to accountants, but their primary job duties include checking that organizations are properly managing funds, revenue and internal controls. Auditors may work as external third parties or as internal members of an organization. Companies that employ auditors typically trust them to review financial statements and inform authorities and investors that what has been reported is free of errors or misrepresentations.

The BLS lumps auditors and accountants into the same bucket, which means the same salary range and projected job outlook as mentioned above.

Tax examiner 

Tax examiners are employed by the government at local, state and federal levels. They typically handle simple tax returns filed by small businesses or individual taxpayers who have minimal deductions. In some cases, examiners may even contact those taxpayers to resolve any issues with the returns. Most of the time, a tax examiner’s job duties consist of ensuring that claimed tax credits and deductions are lawful and correct. If taxpayers owe additional taxes, examiners adjust that amount by assessing fees and other penalties and notifying the taxpayer of the amount owed.

Tax examiners typically need a bachelor’s degree in accounting, although other similar degrees or experience may suffice. They also typically receive on-the-job training that can last from one month to a year. They must keep current with tax codes.

According to BLS, tax examiners earned between $37,690 and $107,660 (with a median wage of $58,530) in May 2023. The BLS projects minimal change in the number of open positions between 2022 and 2032.

Frequently asked questions

What accounting job pays the most? 

Within the accounting profession, there are multiple high-paying career options. Although accountants may earn more than $137,280 per year, according to BLS. Salary for that role, as with any other, depends on work experience, location and the company.

How hard is the CPA exam? 

According to some exam preparation companies, the CPA exam* is extremely difficult. In fact, pass rates fall just under 50% for first-time candidates. The good news? There’s no limit to the number of times you may take the exam.

Do I have to get a CPA to be an accountant? 

Becoming a CPA may increase your career opportunities and earning potential, but it’s not a requirement to find a job. In fact, the accounting degree itself is very useful, especially given the number of organizations that have and will continue to need bookkeepers, financial analysts and staff accountants.

What type of accountant is in most demand? 

BLS does not state which type of accountant is in most demand. However, it does share job outlook and salary ranges as of 2023.

What are helpful personality traits for an accountant? 

The person best suited for an accounting role is someone detail-oriented with an analytical mind and strong aptitude for numbers and financial principles. They must have integrity, professionalism and the ability to communicate complex information in understandable terms. 

Learn more about accounting degrees 

An accounting degree can be a pathway to a rewarding career for those who love numbers and want to help organizations maintain their financial health.

At University of Phoenix, the bachelor’s degree in accounting program can help you achieve your educational goals. UOPX also provides robust career services to help you navigate the employment landscape from graduation to retirement. With resumé and cover letter tools, mentoring and professional guidance, we can help you take the next steps in your accounting career. Request more information or apply today.

*Each state sets forth standards required to be eligible to take the CPA exam and apply for licensure or certification as a CPA. While the UOPX Bachelor of Science in Accounting program was designed with consideration for the standards proposed by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), University of Phoenix cannot, and will not, provide any assurance that completion of this program will allow a successful student to qualify within the student’s specific jurisdiction. Potential applicants should check with the appropriate organization within their jurisdiction to determine requirements. States frequently change their requirements for examination. There is no assurance that at the time of degree completion the specific jurisdiction’s requirements will be consistent with the requirements at the time of admission. 

Portrait of Michael Feder


Brian Fairbanks is a freelance writer with a background in SEO content creation and blog article development

Headshot of Kathryn Uhles


Currently Dean of the College of Business and Information Technology, Kathryn Uhles has served University of Phoenix in a variety of roles since 2006. Prior to joining University of Phoenix, Kathryn taught fifth grade to underprivileged youth in Phoenix.


This article has been vetted by University of Phoenix's editorial advisory committee. 
Read more about our editorial process.


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