Almost every business needs an accountant, so many professionals want to enter the field of accounting. Accounting jobs present a lucrative and stable career option with steady job growth and entrepreneurial career potential. Additionally, there are many opportunities for non-degree holders in the accounting field regardless of age and educational background. You can get supporting jobs in this field as a bookkeeper, accounting clerk, accounts payable specialist, or assistant controller.
Even without a degree in accounting, it’s possible to break into this exciting job industry and become a professional accountant. Below we will discuss the potential accounting job prospects for a non-degree holder, average salary, the skills required, possibilities for continuing studies, and how to get a job with a GED.
What Is Accounting?
Accounting is the system of documenting and monitoring an organization’s financial records and transactions. Accounting experts and financial analysts ensure that companies comply with tax laws and other monetary requirements. Accountants ensure that organizations are compliant by collecting, compiling, recording, and evaluating financial data and consolidating it into a statement of accounts.
While the exact role of accountants may vary, some of the duties of board-certified accountants include budget monitoring, tax preparation, creating quarterly financial reports, auditing, preparing budget reports, and cost control. They also make suggestions regarding budget restrictions, cost-cutting measures, and organizational systems in the accounting department.
What Do Accounting Jobs Pay?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants receive a median salary of $73,560 annually for those with a bachelor’s degree working a full-time job, such as accounting managers and auditors. Based on BLS data, the lowest possible annual income is around $45,220 and the highest is $128,680.
Some of the highest-paying industries hiring accountants include finance and insurance, real estate, commercial enterprises, accounting services, and government. If you’re seeking financial accountant positions with the highest annual salaries, look for employment in the federal government, or the computer equipment manufacturing, security, and financial investments industries.
What Skills Do You Need to Land a High-Paying Accounting Job Without a Degree?
Professional accountants should be able to analyze, compare, and interpret numerical data. When they see numbers, they should know how to identify and scrutinize patterns and details. Advanced math skills and familiarity with basic whole numbers, fractions, decimals, ratios, exponents, percentages, and general algebra are vital to the work requirements.
Analytical and Critical Thinking Skills
Accountants should know how to evaluate numerical data and identify discrepancies and irregularities. They may also suggest solutions to ensure that financial expenditures align with the organization’s goals. Critical thinking is vital to prevent fraud and tax liabilities.
Accountants juggle different documents, remember payment schedules, and comply with the requirements of multiple clients. They work long overtime hours and have strict, constant deadlines. Having strong organizational skills will prevent burnout and make work more efficient.
Accountants help businesses and financial institutions make strategic financial decisions. Therefore, accountants need good communication skills to explain complex financial issues in simpler, non-accounting terms. They may also need to present financial solutions and annual reports to the board. Good communication skills increase your likelihood of getting hired.
Accountants work daily with numerous invoices, receipts, cash flows, financial statements, balance sheets, and tax forms. It can be overwhelming, so accountants must familiarize themselves with every document to discern its details and validity. Being detail-oriented is a critical soft skill for ensuring accuracy in calculating and validating financial statements.
What Education Do You Need to Get an Accounting Job?
Accountants with a bachelor’s degree can take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) examination and be eligible to practice accountancy. Non-accounting majors can take the CPA exam provided they take credit hours in accounting, auditing, taxation, and other related courses.
You can also take the CPA if you have at least one year of accounting experience under the supervision of a CPA licensee. You can still practice accounting without a CPA certification, but the career options are limited.
Those with an associate degree can still get an accounting-related job such as a bookkeeper, accounting clerk, accounts payable specialist, accounts receivable specialist, and senior accountant if they have the required technical skills. Not having tertiary education in accounting limits your opportunities for advanced roles and higher salaries.
Why College Is Not for Everyone
There are many reasons why college may not be for everyone. Financial stability, logistics, health, and pursuing a career that requires advanced skills rather than a degree are all reasons you may be considering not attending university.
The economy is one of the primary reasons why fewer students are enrolling in college and not everyone is eligible to get a student loan. As an alternative, a short accounting program helps some people gain the skills required to get a job.
Accounting is one profession that allows you to be hired even without a college degree. Continuing studies may still be an option later on to earn a degree. This field has many types of accounting jobs at entry-level positions that don’t require a college degree, including bookkeepers, auditing clerks, payroll administrators, and assistant controllers.
College is not for everyone, but earning some credentials will help move your career forward and increase the potential for a higher income. Many online and college courses can help you pass the accounting certification exam for an accountant position. If college is not for you, strive to earn as much experience to make you eligible for the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) examination.
Can a Bootcamp Help Me Get an Accounting Job?
Accounting bootcamps can help you get employed because you will gain real-world knowledge of accounting skills you can send in your resume in the job market. Bootcamps provide an intensive, in-depth, and focused method of learning packed in a short course. Some bootcamp providers offer job interview assistance and recommendations through their partner industries.
There are different types of accounting bootcamps. Some courses focus on specific skills such as creating financial statements, cash flows, debt and equity, working capital, and non-current assets. Advanced mastery classes prepare you for more prominent roles as you learn to make critical financial decisions and further your understanding of accounting.
How to Get an Accounting Job With a GED
Familiarize Yourself With Different Accounting Roles
Accounting firms are composed of several employees, each with specific roles. In big companies and organizations with numerous transactions per day, there are entry-level roles such as bookkeepers, accounts payable specialists, accounting clerks, and collections clerks. Learn about the different roles and assess which job best fits your skills.
Get Additional Certifications
Many job seekers will pursue the same position. Others might even have the advantage of having a bachelor’s degree. To give your resume a boost, you should pursue additional certifications through short courses, bootcamps, and internships.
If you’re just starting your accounting career, gaining lots of experience can easily make up for your lack of degree and credentials. Companies often won’t hire you if you don’t have any previous experience in accounting, so apply for an internship or do volunteer work.
Expand Your Network
You will boost your career faster if you step out of your comfort zone and reach out to other finance professionals to expand your network. You can start by joining online accounting groups, attending finance-related seminars, and enrolling in accounting bootcamps. Being up to date with financial matters through these networks can also help boost your chances of landing a job.
Apply for Entry-Level Positions
Applying for entry-level accounting positions is your best chance to land an accounting job without a degree. Recent graduates with no prior work experience are the typical target audience for these kinds of positions, as well as professionals with a secondary-level education who are willing to undergo training.
High-Paying Accounting Jobs Without a College Degree
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Best Accounting Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree: A Closer Look
An appraiser’s job is to estimate the cost or value of an item. They usually work for insurance companies, lending companies, or in real estate. Auto damage appraisers are also in demand, as they estimate the cost of repairs of damaged vehicles and work with adjusters to put in on the insurance claims.
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Appraisers usually have non-degree post-secondary education or certificates. They receive this from training, job experience, workshops, or an associate degree. They undergo extensive training for several months before they do a supervised appraisal. Employees further assess them before they can do appraising on their own.
Claims adjusters aid in personal injury or property damage claims by interviewing claimants and checking the damages personally. They are the ones who determine the amount insurance should pay to cover the loss. They usually consult with related experts such as lawyers, architects, doctors, and engineers to verify the claims.
A high school diploma is a minimum requirement to apply for an entry-level claims adjuster positions. They will undergo training and work on small claims until they gain experience before moving on to more complicated claims cases. Some adjusters work under a company license, while some states require that adjusters complete licensing education.
Skip tracers are a type of private investigator whose main job is to find people who have skipped town, often to escape paying large debts. Debt collectors often hire them to aid in the investigation and find debtors.
Skip tracers require advanced computer research skills for searching through databases, problem-solving abilities, and good communication skills. Skip tracers need to pay a licensing fee and are often trained under professional associations by attending workshops and seminars.
Large companies usually hire an accounting clerk or accounting assistant to do specific tasks. Their duties and job title will vary depending on their level of experience. Their job titles can be straightforward, such as accounts payable clerks or accounts receivable clerks.
Entry-level accounting clerks monitor loan payments, record transactions, determine interest charges, and add up accounts. Experienced accounting clerks take on more challenging roles such as balancing billing vouchers and ensuring the accuracy of account data.
Auditing clerks need to have strong attention to detail because their main job is to check accounting documents, figures, and posting to ensure accuracy and check for financial risks. If they find any minor discrepancy, they can do the corrections themselves. Otherwise, they need to notify the senior accountants and certified internal auditor to consolidate their records.
Aside from verifying records and financial statements, they can also process invoices and payments, compile financial data, and create financial reports needed by senior staff. Auditing clerks usually have some postsecondary education to learn about basic accounting principles before applying for an entry-level job.
Bookkeepers are responsible for an organization’s ledger, where they record all debit and credit transactions of the company. Bookkeepers work closely with accountants when it’s time to create balance sheets and financial statements.
Bookkeepers should know how to use financial software such as Excel, Quickbooks, Xero, and Freshbooks. Employers seek applicants with a strong eye for detail to ensure accuracy in their records and check for discrepancies. Many companies hire bookkeepers without degrees because the bookkeeping process has become easier with the help of accounting software.
Financial clerks do administrative work and financial-related tasks such as keeping records and helping clients. In the accounting department, clerks are the ones who help update financial records, calculate bills and charges, and carry out financial transactions and specific business decisions.
There are different types of financial clerks, including brokerage clerks, billing and posting clerks, credit checkers, credit authorizers, loan interviewers, payroll clerks, and many other positions. Their scope of work and job title will vary depending on the industry.
Bill and Account Collector
Bill and account collectors are the ones who recover payment from debtors on overdue bills. They connect with debtors to resolve unsettled payments by negotiating repayment plans. Their job includes tracking down debtors to learn the reasons for overdue bills, explaining the contract terms, offering credit advice, negotiating a payment scheme, and referring them to a debt counselor if needed.
Collectors typically contact debtors by phone and mail. They track debtors through records of past collections in computer systems. Their central role is to find solutions so debtors can settle their balances while maximizing payment to the creditor. Those who decide to get a bachelor’s degree can transition to becoming loan officers or financial officers.
Information clerks collect data, maintain records, and provide customer information. They are often in charge of orders, bills, claims, and routine reports. They must also be familiar with its products and services to answer customer inquiries and present additional information.
There are different types of information clerks, depending on the industry. There are license clerks, order clerks, file clerks, correspondence clerks, and many others. Information clerks typically need a high school diploma to get hired. They will undergo extensive training before they can start their job.
Tellers usually work in banks and are responsible for various money-related transactions. A typical day involves facing customers to receive payments, cash in checks, collect deposits, exchange foreign currency, order bank cards and checks, and answer customers’ account-related questions.
It is the responsibility of the teller to accurately handle all the money they process. For proper accounting, they need to count the cash in their drawer at the start and end of their shift. Some companies hire tellers even without a degree because the work requires specific training regardless of the person’s educational background and work experience.
Companies That Offer Entry-Level Accounting Jobs
- Robert Half International, Inc: Robert Half is a management consulting company based in Menlo Park, California. There are entry-level accountant jobs for those who are willing to be trained to create spreadsheets, do data entry, review financial statements, and facilitate full-cycle account receivable-payable processes.
- Goose Cap Enterprises, LLC: Goose Cap Enterprises in Houston, Texas, is part of the liquor and wine industry. The company recently posted a job ad seeking an entry-level accounting assistant to assist in routine tasks and accounting activities.
- Verizon: Verizon is one of the leading technology and communications services providers. There is an open position for an entry-level accounts payable clerk to help with invoice processing, gather invoice information, help resolve complex invoice issues, and assist with invoice processing troubleshooting.
- JW Marriott Nashville: JW Marriott is a chain of luxury hotels. The hotel branch in Nashville, Tennessee, has opened an entry-level general staff accountant position. Examples of duties include organizing financial files and records, preparing financial reports, consolidating daily cash deposits, and administering cashier bank contracts.
- Apple One Technologies: Apple One is an information and services company in Santa Clara, California. This company is looking for an entry-level accounts payable accountant who can support the finance team by managing multiple payrolls, help with customer service, and handle new processes and database systems with ease.
Where to Find Accounting Jobs that Don’t Require a Degree
Job Search Platforms
Your go-to place to find an accounting job is job search platforms. They are easy to navigate and have filtered search tools. You can read company reviews and check employees’ experience to help you decide before applying for the position.
Check out private and public accounting firms, finance agencies, and small businesses that are open to recruiting a non-degree holder accounting professional. You can try search phrases such as “entry-level position” or “internship” to highlight jobs that don’t require a four-year degree.
There are many staffing and accounting agencies dedicated to training individuals in finance-related careers. Before applying for the job, read their employment terms carefully and know their policies on salary cuts once an employer hires you. Many financial staffing agencies such as Accounting Principals and Creative Financial Staffing can help you secure a job without a degree.
Professional Networking Platforms
Professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn help you connect with other accounting professionals, recruiting agencies, and financial companies in a verified manner. You will find entry-level job postings by different employers on these platforms and having a professional profile makes it easier for job recruiters to find you.
Consider an Accounting Degree Later in Your Career
There are two great things about an accounting job—the longevity of the career and that your age doesn’t negatively impact the chances of employment. Even if you want to pursue an accounting degree later in your career, as long as you have the required accounting skills and background in accounting, you can still be very much qualified for an accounting job.
The only hurdle you will have if you get an accounting degree later in your career is getting experience. You will be competing with others who have experience in accounting and may have a professional certification. Try to apply to small companies to gain knowledge on different accounting tasks.
Accounting Jobs Without a Degree FAQ
Assuming that you already have the basic skills and knowledge required to be an accountant, you can gain experience by applying for training under small businesses as a bookkeeper, accounting clerk, or auditing clerk.
Yes, you can take the CPA exam even if you don’t have an accounting degree, as long as you graduate from any bachelor course and have 150 credit units. Every state in the US has different prerequisites, so inquire through your local administrator.
Yes, you can get a bookkeeping job without a degree. Many employers accept applicants with high school diplomas as long as they have the necessary skills. However, it can be difficult to be promoted to a higher position with a higher salary without further education. Working while studying and aiming to pass the CPA exam will make you eligible for a higher-paying job.
To be a fully qualified accountant, you need to be a CPA or a CA (Chartered Accountant). CPA qualification means opportunities for advancement and being allowed to do more extensive internal auditing, investment accounting, and handling corporate finances.
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