If you're a big baseball fan, you know that keeping track of how well your favorite team plays and predicting how it will do in the future is part of the fun. In businesses, government agencies, and nonprofits, accountants often engage in very similar activity.
Not simply bean counters, accountants analyze financial information and consult with upper management about important business decisions. Of course, some accountants also keep the books, recording every financial transaction.
Accounting majors learn how to gather, record, analyze, interpret, and communicate information about an individual’s or organization’s financial performance and risks.
“One of my uncles, who is a CPA [certified public accountant], told me that sometimes the schooling is boring but the actual business [of accounting] is far more exciting and rewarding.”Lisa, senior, accounting and international business, University of Washington
Are You Ready To...?
- Spend up to five years in school if you want to become a CPA
- Use accounting information systems
- Learn to prepare tax filings
- Study tax law
- Evaluate a company’s efficiency and profitability
- Create and analyze balance sheets
- Learn to use GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles)
It Helps To Be...
Attentive to detail and analytical. Since accountants spend much of their time advising and communicating with others, from the general public to CEOs, communication skills are essential for success.
- Is course work mostly applied (analysis based) or conceptual (theory based)?
- Are bachelor’s and master’s degrees offered in separate programs or in a combined five-year program?
- How does the program prepare students to become CPAs?
- Does the program encourage internships? Will you have help finding one?
- Does the school have a chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, a national honors fraternity for accounting students, or other undergraduate accounting societies?
Did You Know?
A balance sheet lists assets (resources like equipment and cash) and balances them against liabilities (costs like rent and employee salaries).
There is so much to learn in introductory accounting that it is sometimes offered over two semesters. In this course, you’ll get to know basic accounting concepts as well as procedures for preparing the three basic financial statements: the income statement, the balance sheet, and the statement of cash flow.
In addition to attending lectures, you may also conduct research, analyze real cases, and visit the computer lab to act out simulations.