There are four major fields of accounting and auditing: management, public, government accounting, and internal auditing. Management or private accounting is used to communicate information to people within a particular business entity. Information is provided to employees, managers, owners and auditors, that is then used to make management or operating decisions. Public accounting encompasses various aspects of accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting services. Public accountants also serve corporations, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and individuals. Many public accountants are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and either own their own businesses or work for public accounting firms.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the accounting and auditing fields is expected to increase by 22% between 2008 and 2018, much faster than the average for all other occupations. Most jobs in the accounting field require at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field, though some employers prefer applicants with higher education diplomas, such as a master's in business administration (MBA) with a concentration in accounting. Many online 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.
Distance learners have access to a wide variety of colleges and universities when choosing an online accounting degree program. 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. Online accounting programs, now among the most popular majors for students pursuing a bachelor's degree online, were one of the first to be offered as part of a distance learning curriculum.