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Accounting- More Than Just Numbers

May 15, 2020

A degree in accounting is one of the most popular major choices for students at the Idaho State University College of Business. This could be because of the versatility of the degree and a plethora of great job opportunities available. 

And, according to, “An accounting degree is one the most versatile business degrees available,” with positions available in government, businesses and even with individuals. So, it’s an attractive degree choice in terms of getting a job… but what exactly can you expect to learn as an accounting student? 


What is Accounting?

WorldWideLearn has a great summary of what makes up an accountant, “If you are considering an accounting degree, you should have an aptitude and interest in mathematics. Successful accountants must be able to analyze, compare and interpret facts and figures quickly. They must also possess the skills necessary to clearly communicate their results to clients and managers. Above all, maintaining high standards of integrity is especially important.” 

“Remember this one truth, accounting is not math; it is logic. If you love a puzzle, you will excel in an accounting career,” advises Professor Jerry Leffler.  So, in other words, accountants enjoy numbers… numbers, Excel and mathematics. They enjoy tracking company or individual’s financial aspects such as assets, investments, liabilities and more. Budgeting and balancing these balance sheets is a basic aspect of the accounting field, but accounting can also involve taxes, auditing, book keeping, analysis of numbers in a balance sheet and more. 

Generally, accounting is best described by a handful of the numerous jobs available in the field. 


Career Opportunities in Accounting:

What do you see when you think of an accountant? Some generations may see a fellow wearing a vest or suspenders with a visor and calculator with a long string of receipt paper flowing from the back of it. Others may see a suited professional sitting in a quiet cubicle setting. But, you may not have realized that a degree in accounting lends itself to some pretty exciting career opportunities with possibilities for frequently changing client and project endeavors from intense lawsuits to handling large amounts of money for wealthy companies or individuals. “It's so valuable! Accounting is the language of business. Fluency in that language will greatly enhance your ability to contribute and lead in whatever employment situation you may find yourself. Good jobs! Since proficiency in accounting is so valuable to employers, our accounting graduates find great jobs. These jobs pay well and prepare our graduates for future leadership positions,” says Accounting Professor Justin Wood about the opportunities an accounting degree offers. Accountants may work as consultants in a variety of fields and travel from client to client and project to project, keeping the job interesting, new and exciting. Not to mention opening up possibilities for employment all over the world with many new and interesting clients.


Forensic Accounting

In some cases, accountants have the opportunity to work as “detectives” in the field. Forensic accountants work to investigate financial fraud alongside lawyers, law enforcement, insurance companies or government agencies. As an “accounting detective” a forensic accountant will conduct research and analysis to trace expenditures and funds in various legal cases- even testifying for litigations. 


Financial Planners

Some accountants may even work for large estates or companies helping to plan investments, tax options and conducting estate planning or even devising retirement plans and ways to fund education expenses. These accountants work to manage these large types of investments and advise company owners or individuals on managing their money. 


Managerial Accounting

Accountants can also work as part of a strategic team in an organization helping to analyze financial information to help forecast and suggest future financial decisions within a business. 

Better-known opportunities in accounting include the many jobs found within taxation. 



Auditors are another form of “investigative accountants,” where the accountant has the chance to examine financial statements looking for inaccuracies in a company or entity. They can determine owed taxes, errors in financial records and may even be responsible for picking up on fraudulent occurrences either in taxes or bookkeeping. 


Tax Preparer

Taxes can be an exciting field for many people. Tax preparers will work with an array of clients all in varying life and financial situations. Here, a deep knowledge and understanding of tax law will allow you to determine the best route for each person to take in filing their taxes as well as how and why each law pertains to them.  


Certified Public Accountants

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a very common career certification for those majoring in the accounting field. This esteemed certification is obtained through a rigorous four-part exam and increases accountants’ legitimacy and hire-ability in many accounting fields. As a CPA, you could work as a trusted consultant for taxes and personal or business accounting. With this particular certification, accountants are rigorously tested on their knowledge of accounting and therefore are regarded highly in the field. 


How much can you expect to make? 

Now that you have an idea of where an accounting job can land you as far as job possibilities, what kind of income can you expect? As with any career, your salary will vary depending on where in the country you work. 

The average in Idaho for accountants and auditors is $58,270 and the national average salary is $71,550. This occupation has a projected job growth rate of six percent from 2018 to 2028.

Graduates can also expect to work in a huge variety of industries as part of a major company or working for accounting firms. The largest firms in the world are known as the “Big Four” and include Ernst and Young, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers (pwc) and KPMG. Common employers for CoB graduates include KPMG, Eide Bailly, Deloitte, Moss Adams, Cooper Norman and Kernutt Stokes. 

So, now that you know what you can expect with a career in accounting- how can you become an accountant and what are your degree options? 


Degree options at the College of Business:

As a College of Business major, all students are required to take a set of core courses covering a good understanding of business aspects in accounting, finance, management, marketing, economics and informatics. These are sort of like general education requirements, but for business students and provide a great opportunity for you to get a taste of which business major is right for you. So, as you take your business core courses, you will start off by taking Accounting 2201 and 2202- if you find that you really enjoy these courses, then you will know if accounting is right for you without wasting any valuable time taking courses that won’t count toward your degree. 

Undergraduate students have the option to earn a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in accounting in about four years of study. Upon graduating with a BBA, students also have the opportunity to continue in the College of Business as graduate students for just one more year of study to earn a Master of Accountancy degree, which would increase starting salaries and hire-ability significantly, especially if combined with a CPA. 

Going on to earn a master’s degree in accounting is a great option for ISU accounting graduates with just one more year of study and a great salary increase. Students can also expect to pay much less than surrounding institutions for their degree. In addition, ISU grad students have the unique opportunity to participate in the graduate assistant (GA) program. This program pays students a stipend for 20 hours of work along with covering both in-state and out-of-state tuition. 

If you decide to major in accounting, you will want to check out the College of Business course catalog for information on what core business courses and accounting-specific courses you need to take, explore the ISU Course Catalog for more details on each class by clicking on the course number.