The accounting industry is full of jobs that require different levels of knowledge, skill, and ability (KSA). The prerequisites for accounting can therefore vary widely depending on the job, industry, and company in which an individual works. The two most common prerequisites for accounting are education and experience, with education typically being a college degree with a focus in accounting. Experience comes as an individual progresses through an accounting career and learns new skills and abilities. In some cases, an individual can focus on just one aspect of accounting for his or her entire career rather than simply jumping positions that span multiple positions or skill sets.
A few different types of accounting degrees are common in most colleges and universities, with each degree offering different levels of knowledge. An associate’s degree, for example, is best for bookkeepers that desire an initial introduction into the world of accounting. Bachelor degrees are the most common accounting degrees, which can fulfill the prerequisites for accounting certification. A master’s degree offers individuals the opportunity to specialize in a particular area of accounting — such as managerial, cost, or taxation — in addition to a general accounting degree. Formal knowledge is most often an important part for entering an accounting career.
Prerequisites for accounting jobs may also include learned skills that are only attainable from another accounting position. For example, accounting clerk positions are often readily available at many different companies. These positions are usually low skill and do not pay very well in comparison to other accounting jobs. The skills learned in an accounting clerk position, however, are often necessary to move into an accounting supervisor position. An accounts payable clerk position, for example, will help an individual learn the skills necessary to be an accounts payable supervisor.
In many cases, the prerequisites for accounting are defined by the industry itself, though individual companies can have their own prerequisites. For example, while a staff accountant position in the accounting industry may carry certain KSAs, a company can include or require a few additional KSAs from those applying to the job. The achievement of accounting certification, for example, is a common requirement for an accounting position. Though an individual can work in the accounting industry without certification, having a professional license can set one apart from others in the market. Individuals must be aware of the individual prerequisites for accounting positions at different companies in order to secure a job.