Do you see accounting as a possible career choice but are in the dilemma of accounting certificate vs degree? If this is the case, keep reading this article to better understand what accounting certificates and degrees are. Furthermore, reading this article will help you compare and contrast the two and, as such, facilitate your choice.



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What Is an Accounting Certificate?

If you find yourself thinking about what can you do with an accounting certificate, please continue reading. 

An accounting certificate gives you baseline knowledge and skills for entry-level accounting jobs. Further, you can use a certificate in the field to prepare yourself for an advanced degree in accounting. This can be a basic certification that equips you with skills like critical thinking, decision making, cost assignment, and responsibility accounting. However, it can also be a more specialized certification such as public accountant certification or management accountant certification. 

What can you do with an accounting certificate?

Obtaining an accounting certificate can open your doors to entry-level accounting positions in different companies and organizations. Such positions will randomly consist of bookkeeping, accounting, or auditing clerks and will generally require examining financial records for various companies and organizations. Likewise, such positions require ensuring that the latter comply with the financial regulations set by the national government. 

Finally, apart from enabling you to start a career in accounting, a certificate in accounting may also help you advance your already built-up career. 

How long does it take to get an accounting certificate?

In principle, an accounting certificate is obtained within less than a year. It is thus completed shorter than any other accounting program. It is also very flexible to receive such a certificate as it can be either taken on-campus or online. 

Accounting certificate: Pros and Cons

Similar to almost every other certification, an accounting certificate comes with its pros and cons.


  • A certificate is obtained within a way shorter period than a degree, yet it equips you with necessary entry-level accounting skills. 
  • A certificate enables you to become eligible for a handful of job positions, including bookkeeping, accounting, or auditing clerks.
  • A certificate facilitates your further education in accounting as you are already equipped with useful skills for the field. 


  • An accounting certificate may pave your way toward small companies; however, you may be limited to such small companies unless you obtain a degree in the field.
  • Skills you earn through certification for entering the field are usually far more basic than those you may get by completing a bachelor’s or, even better, a master’s.

Is an accounting certificate worth it?

Yes. Depending on your personal goals, time, and finances, an accounting certificate may be enough to engage in the accounting field. Besides that, as stated above, an accounting certificate may also help to further advance your career. 

What is an Accounting Degree?

A degree in accounting can become a factor behind a successful career in business and finances. It prepares you to work for various corporations, companies, non-profit and profit-oriented agencies, or different public institutions. Moreover, a degree in accounting will be obtained through a bachelor’s and be further strengthened by a master’s. We will explain the duration of each below. 

What can you do with an accounting degree?

There are many different job positions that you can carry out with an accounting degree. To begin with, with an accounting degree, you can become a bookkeeper, which means that you will maintain accurate financial records of income, expenses, invoices, and similar. Further, you can exercise staff accountant tasks such as reconciling accounts and generating financial reports. Another possibility is to engage with a financial analyst position, which implies buying and selling investments. An accounting degree may also lead you to other roles such as internal auditor, cost accountant, accounting manager, and tax manager. 

How long does it take to get an accounting degree?

The duration of a bachelor’s in accounting depends on several factors, such as the number of credit hours you have already completed or the course of studies you intend to take. However, a bachelor’s degree in accounting typically lasts four academic years. Similarly, the duration of a master’s depends on several factors, including your own choice to study full-time or part-time, on-campus or online. Nonetheless, it generally takes two years to complete. 

Accounting degree: Pros and Cons

An accounting degree also comes with its pros and cons. Here are some of them.

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  • Great career opportunities. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, job positions for accountants and auditors are foreseen to grow by 7% by 2030.
  • A rewarding salary. Again, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants earn an average annual salary of $77,250. 
  • It packs you with solid skills. An accounting degree packs you with solid skills in financial regulations and reporting. These may increase your flexibility in working either for your own company or other businesses or organizations. 


  • Ongoing education. For some, continued education is desirable. However, others may perceive it as a burden. Accounting is a field where you often need updates to keep up with the latest industry trends and take additional courses to obtain certifications. 
  • Working overtime. Expect to be working more than usual during several periods of the year. This may especially happen during the income tax season.

Is an accounting degree worth it?

If you are wondering whether an accounting degree is worth it, let us shed light on your question. Indeed, an accounting degree requires an investment of time, money, and energy to be completed, but it nonetheless opens your doors to myriad job opportunities. Apart from that, as previously mentioned, it offers a great salary and equips you with great professional skills that will be of great use even when you start your own business. 

Accounting Certificate vs Degree: What Are the Differences?

An accounting certificate and an accounting degree differ in certain aspects. To begin with, an accounting certificate is obtained within a shorter period compared to a degree in the field. That also means that earning an accounting certificate has fewer financial implications than a degree in accounting. 

These two also differ in terms of salary. As the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates, graduates in accounting will, on average, earn $77 250 per year. On the other hand, those who possess an accounting certificate will, on average, be paid a yearly salary of $45,560.

Certainly, certified accountants and graduates also differ in terms of the tasks and responsibilities they carry out. Graduate accountants will obviously have more complex tasks before themselves in comparison to those possessing a certificate; however, the job titles the former can acquire are as well higher than the latter. 

Final Thoughts 

Choosing between accounting certification and a degree depends entirely on your goals and aspirations for the future, but also on your time and finances. Of course, you should also bear in mind that being an accountant comes with its pros and cons along the way; however, it is safe to say that the pros outweigh the cons, and it is still worth pursuing accounting studies. If you are convinced of that, then feel free to check out more specific information about our accounting degrees and certification programs.