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Accounting Major

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Accounting

55,319 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
21,483 Master's Degrees Annually
#7 in Popularity
$78,820 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Accounting Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many accounting graduations there were in 2017-2018 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 55,367
Master’s Degree 21,483
Associate’s Degree 13,215
Basic Certificate 11,814
Undergraduate Certificate 4,976
Graduate Certificate 958
Doctor’s Degree 38

What Accounting Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to accounting and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Accounting Majors

Accounting majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

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  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Economics and Accounting - Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking and the analysis and reporting of financial data.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Skills for Accounting Majors

A major in accounting prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:

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  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Abilities for Accounting Majors

A major in accounting will prepare for your careers in which the following abilities are important:

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  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

What Can You Do With a Accounting Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with accounting:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Accountants 10.0% $70,500
Auditors 10.0% $70,500
Bioinformatics Technicians 9.3% $48,330
Brokerage Clerks 5.0% $51,400
Budget Analysts 6.5% $76,220
Business Professors 18.0% $83,960
Credit Analysts 8.3% $71,520
Financial Analysts 10.8% $85,660
Financial Examiners 9.7% $80,180
Financial Managers, Branch or Department 18.7% $127,990
Statistical Assistants 9.3% $48,330
Tax Preparers 10.7% $39,390
Treasurers and Controllers 18.7% $127,990

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting?

55,367 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
51% Percent Women
30% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is one of the most frequently chosen undergraduate majors. It is the 7th most popular in the country with 55,319 students graduating with a bachelor’s in accounting in 2018. According to recent stats this major attracts about equal numbers of men and women. Roughly 51% of the graduates are women, and 49% are men.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of accounting majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Accounting Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 4,360
Black or African American 3,901
Hispanic or Latino 6,810
White 33,100
International Students 3,820
Other Races/Ethnicities 3,376

Geographic Diversity

Accounting appeals to people across the globe. About 6.9% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • South Korea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Vietnam
  • Taiwan

How Much Do Accounting Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

The U.S. Department of Education found that students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting made a median starting salary of $43,900 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $39,900 (25th percentile) and $50,700 (75th percentile).

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Note that some of these people may have jobs that are not directly related to a accounting degree.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $50,110 to $90,310 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to accounting. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for an Accounting Major  ( 50110 to 90310 )
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Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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Some careers associated with accounting require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

Find out what the typical degree level is for accounting careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 0.5%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 14.4%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 3.9%
Some College Courses 9.6%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 8.4%
Bachelor’s Degree 40.0%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 3.2%
Master’s Degree 13.8%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 0.3%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 0.6%
Doctoral Degree 5.7%
Post-Doctoral Training 0.1%

Online Accounting Programs

In 2017-2018, 2,299 schools offered a accounting program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 651 182
Certificate (1-2 years) 644 170
Certificate (2-4 Years) 22 7
Associate’s Degree 1,075 301
Bachelor’s Degree 172 64
Post-Baccalaureate 651 182
Master’s Degree 626 153
Post-Master’s 23 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 23 1
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Accounting Worth It?

The median salary for a accounting grad is $78,820 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 98% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $778,400 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to accounting.

Major Number of Grads
Business Administration & Management 399,810
General Business/Commerce 58,413
Finance & Financial Management 56,960
Marketing 49,179
Human Resource Management 26,853
Hospitality Management 20,194
Business Support & Assistant Services 19,248
Management Sciences & Quantitative Methods 18,282
Management Information Systems 14,578
International Business 10,536
Entrepreneurial Studies 8,522
Business/Managerial Economics 6,727
Specialized Sales, Merchandising & Marketing 6,711
Other Business, Management & Marketing 5,750
General Sales & Marketing 5,673
Real Estate 5,183
Construction Management 3,375
Insurance 2,316
Taxation 1,888
Business/Corporate Communications 1,088
Telecommunications Management 48

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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