Before you can enter the world of accounting, a degree is highly important. The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s online Bachelor of Science in Accounting program is ideal for the student who wants a quality education in accounting from an AACSB-accredited university and the flexibility of an online program.
Virtually every individual and business can benefit from a knowledgeable accountant. It’s no wonder that accounting jobs are growing at 11 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national average for all occupations is just 7 percent.
But what, exactly, does this degree all entail? Here are some of the key skills and strategies you’ll explore during your time at UAB:
Basic accounting principles
It’s said that accounting is the language of business. To someone who’s never seen an accounting spreadsheet before, this analogy seems quite accurate; financial statements are commonly tricky to understand to the layman.
That’s where the two courses Principles of Accounting I and II come in. These courses give you the foundational knowledge you’ll need throughout the rest of your academic career in accounting, and into your professional life.
For example, throughout these two courses, students will learn about how to prepare and use financial reports, how to analyze financial statements and how to budget capital. They will also discover the nuances of long-term operational assets and liabilities, stockholders’ equity and internal reporting.
Information technology and systems
It’s hard to imagine the professional world without computers, the internet and other technologies. Modern advancements have made their way into nearly every aspect of business. As such, it’s critical that any professional knows how to use these technologies to their advantage. Students of UAB’s online accounting program will explore this topic in-depth. They will learn how to gather and present valuable business information; how office automation affects a business; and how microcomputers are used. Students will also learn about knowledge-based systems and about the planning, design, development and implementation of issues within information systems. Of course, students will also learn about developing technology just emerging in the world of accounting. This is critical for the accountant of tomorrow – it’s always important to know what new developments are on the horizon.
Further into the curriculum, students will learn about how management information systems are used to organize, analyze and share information.
While most accounting programs will touch on these subjects, students of UAB’s online program have a unique advantage over those studying accounting in a campus setting. Because you’ll be expected to use technology to communicate with classmates and professors, and for various assignments, you’ll get greater hands-on experience using technology to accomplish important tasks.
As an accountant, you’ll generally work within a standardized set of principles that will guide your decisions. This is different from an economist, who will use trends and social science that help them predict how certain decisions will play out.
Though completely different fields, economics and accounting are closely tied together. Economics can be divided into two sections: macroeconomics and microeconomics. Students in the accounting curriculum at UAB will have one class dedicated to each.
Macroeconomics dives into topics like national income, employment, international economics and government fiscal policies. Microeconomics, on the other hand, focuses on production, distribution of income and the effects of monopolies and oligopolies.
One might wonder why some courses are distinguished as “financial accounting.” After all, isn’t all accounting financial?
In fact, financial accounting is a specific branch of the field that focuses on the financial transactions a company makes. UAB’s Bachelor of Science in Accounting curriculum divides financial accounting into three sections.
A solid understanding of financial accounting starts with a foundation of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP); an understanding of accounting cycles; and knowledge of the time value of money.
Once you have mastered these key concepts in Financial Accounting I, you can move on to Financial Accounting II, where you’ll grow your knowledge base about important concepts like stockholder’s equity; current liabilities and assets; and inventories.
Finally, Financial Accounting III will explore critical yet complicated aspects, like error analysis and accounting changes; dilutive securities; retirement benefits; income tax accounting; and investments and earnings per share.
Accountants aren’t just number-crunchers. They also need to understand how to effectively communicate with others within their organization and outside it. Accounting students will learn how to make informed and ethical decisions within a company. They’ll also learn about encouragement and motivation; performance evaluation; and job attitudes. This course will take an in-depth look into ethics and civil responsibility.
Processes and personnel aren’t the only aspects of a company an accountant might manage. Operations management is also a big part of some accountants’ careers. Accountants may have to discuss topics like production control; facility layout; inventory theory; and forecasting. These topics are highly complex, and require a great understanding of the many effects of every decision. These can be applied to manufacturing facilities as well as non-manufacturing operations.
The final and perhaps most obvious type of management an accountant will engage in is financial management. Students will learn all about how to analyze risk versus return; capital budgeting, cost of capital and capital structure; and cash flow analyses.
Business marketing and communications
Seeing as accounting is the language of business, it only makes sense that accounting students will learn all about communications and marketing techniques used in a business environment.
A survey course focusing on marketing will explain how products are planned out, produced, distributed, promoted and priced. It’s the entire process from conception to educating the target audience of the product.
Business communications is more about how to effectively relay ideas and messages between business entities. Everything from style to format to grammar makes a difference in business communications.
Auditors are extremely valuable to the business community. They analyze the risk that miscommunications in financial reports carry, and have a keen eye for detail. In UAB’s auditing course, students will hone their ability to spot a mistake in a report. By developing an auditor’s eye, professionals can help businesses stay successful and healthy.
UAB’s Online Accounting Program
By taking advantage of UAB’s program for earning your accounting degree online, students can take their future into their own hands. Once they’ve graduated from the bachelor’s program, they are able to sit for the Certified Management Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner or Certified Internal Auditor examinations. They can also pursue further education through UAB’s Master of Accounting Program.
To learn more about the knowledge you’ll acquire through UAB’s accredited online program, reach out to an enrollment advisor today.