The accounting field is thousands of years old; primitive societies relied on accounting methods to record the growth of crops and herds. In time, accounting has evolved substantially, advancing to keep up with the changing face of business. Today, accounting is referred to as "the language of business" and professionals holding certificates in accounting are in high demand.
Specific job duties differ across the various fields of accounting and auditing. Accounting used to communicate information to people within a particular business entity is called management accounting or private accounting. Information is provided to employees, managers, owners and auditors, that is then used to make management or operating decisions. Public accounting includes a variety of accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting activities, serving corporations, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and individuals. Public accountants, many of whom are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), commonly work for public accounting firms or own their own businesses.
Students looking to earn an accounting degree have a multitude of both online and campus based colleges and universities to choose from. Accounting is among the most popular majors for students pursuing bachelor's degree online as well as one of the first to be offered as part of a distance learning curriculum. Accounting programs are well suited to distance learning as the requirements include very little practical involvement on the part of the student and no demonstration of technique by the instructor like, say, courses in culinary arts or the medical field.
Many jobs in the accounting field require at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. Some employers prefer applicants with a master's degree in or business administration with a concentration in accounting. Many colleges and universities offer students the opportunity to gain professional experience through summer internships or part-time work-study programs at public accounting or business firms. Professional experience and the proper certification provide a distinct advantage to individuals entering the job market. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the accounting and auditing fields is expected to increase by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations in general. Growth in this industry is likely to be driven by an increase in the number of businesses, changing financial laws and corporate regulations, and increased accountability.