Although an associate degree in accounting will not prepare you to take the CPA exam or hold management positions in accounting, there are some good paying jobs to be had. In many cases, these jobs offer great training for later career positions, particularly if you intend to earn further degrees.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most bookkeeping and clerical entry-level jobs don’t require an associate degree, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t start with one of these jobs if you have such a degree. These positions involve being an assistant to an experienced accountant or doing straight ledger work, receipts handling, or data entry. Some of these jobs also include auditing and other similar duties. The median income for these jobs is roughly $38,000 annually.
Resource: Top 10 Online Accounting Degree Programs
Jobs That Require an Associate Degree
On the clerical end, employees with an associate degree can work in either accounts payable or accounts receivable. In these jobs, workers are responsible for managing the company’s cash flow, compiling data on any evident trends, and performing basic analysis of those trends. You could also be a full bookkeeper instead of just an assistant bookkeeping clerk. The bookkeeper oversees all aspects of record keeping and manages his or her assistants. You would also work with a CPA on all parts of the business’s finances.
You might also consider working as either a payroll clerk or accounting assistant. The assistant’s job requires supporting all other departments, augmenting their ranks when needed. When not so engaged, the assistant will help a CPA or a member of management. As a payroll clerk, however, your duties would include making sure everyone at the company gets paid the right amount on-time. You would have to track hours worked, differentiate between normal and overtime hours, and hunt down timecard fraud if any.
Should moving up the corporate ladder be your goal, you can train to become a manager while taking classes to earn your Bachelor of Science in accounting. Management trainees often fill in for actual managers when the latter are sick or on vacation. All of these jobs earn from $35,000 – $56,000 annually, depending on the amount of responsibility involved and your negotiating skills regarding your salary.
Should you want to develop a career outside of these office roles, you can style yourself as a professional mentor. You don’t need a higher degree to do this; you just have to mentor roles for which you are qualified. As a mentor, you can help shape the careers of other budding accountants and improve your own skills at the same time. As a mentor, you also have the option of furthering your education so that you can apply your teaching skills to higher jobs in the field. Mentors can usually set their own salary by charging an hourly consulting fee commensurate with their skill, experience, and notability in the field.
Jobs in the accounting field are both challenging and rewarding. When building your experience before aiming higher up the food chain, you can also network and build contacts who will help you in with your ascent. Likewise, you can also help others in their own quests either as a mentor or, eventually, a manager or executive.