When people hear about accounting jobs, they often assume that all accounting jobs require a college degree. And while that may be true for several positions, this isn’t always the case. There are several accounting jobs available that don’t require a four-year college degree.
If a career in accounting has always interested you, read on to learn more about the types of accounting jobs you can get if you don’t have a college degree. You’ll also learn how to find these career opportunities during your next job search.
Accounting is the process of recording and communicating financial and economic information. This process is usually done for businesses, but individuals also need accounting services from time to time. Another name for it is accountancy, but accounting is the more common name for this field.
The field of accounting contains a wide variety of careers, responsibilities, and types of tasks. It can be as simple as filing taxes for a single person once a year — some retired accountants even specialize in completing tax returns during tax season while they remain retired for the rest of the year.
On the other end of the spectrum, accounting can be as complex as preparing a global, multi-billion-dollar company for a financial audit.
Certified public accountants, or CPAs, need a college degree and a license to practice in their field. But not all accounting jobs require that level of education and specialization.
Wondering what career opportunities are available to you in accounting if you don’t have a college degree? Here are nine examples of accounting jobs to consider.
A bookkeeper records financial transactions and verifies financial data for businesses. As a bookkeeper, you’ll be responsible for entering financial transactions into accounting software and reconciling that data with bank statements.
You don’t need accounting training to become a bookkeeper, but you do need familiarity with computer software. If you aren’t familiar with accounting software specifically, you need to be able to learn quickly.
You also need to be comfortable with managing and entering financial data. Some companies will require bookkeepers to have experience, but you can train yourself to learn these skills on your own or take an online certification.
The median pay for bookkeepers is $20.39 per hour.
A payroll specialist oversees the payroll process. The payroll process is how employees in a company receive their paychecks.
Someone who works as a payroll specialist will do tasks such as:
Process employee timesheets
Enter information about paid leave, sick days, and other leave
Make sure the company withholds the correct amount of income tax from employees’ paychecks
To become a payroll specialist, you need strong organizational skills. There’s a lot to keep track of in a payroll department. You’ll also need experience with computer software and spreadsheets.
As a payroll specialist, you can receive a wage that averages $23.21 per hour.
CPAs can have a lot on their plate. Because they’re usually responsible for overseeing several moving pieces of a company’s financial operations, they often require someone to help them with administrative tasks.
That’s where the accounting assistant comes in. As an accounting assistant, you’ll support accountants or CPAs with their duties and other accounting tasks.
You’ll need strong mathematical knowledge to become an accounting assistant. In addition to being comfortable with math, you also need to have great attention to detail. Plus, you need the ability to learn quickly on the job.
You can expect a median wage of $19.96 per hour when you work as an accounting assistant. One of the positive aspects of this job is the opportunity to learn many skills from the accountants you support.
An accounting clerk is similar to a bookkeeper. When you have this job, you’ll verify and enter financial records in an accounting system.
An accounting clerk will be responsible for one or more accounts in a company but not necessarily an entire company’s accounts. Some examples can include accounts payable or accounts receivable. This means you’ll usually work in medium to large companies as an accounting clerk.
On the other hand, a bookkeeper will be responsible for all the accounts. Smaller companies will usually employ one bookkeeper, while medium to large companies will need several accounting clerks to keep their books.
Many companies will offer on-the-job training if you have no previous training in bookkeeping. However, it helps to:
Be a fast learner
Take free certifications or courses online
Feel comfortable and confident working with spreadsheets and other computer software
Working as an accounting clerk pays a median wage of $19.96 per hour.
As the name suggests, administrative assistants support their colleagues with administrative tasks. This position is not directly related to accounting, but it can include light accounting tasks. You can work as an administrative assistant in an accounting department or accounting firm, too.
If you struggle to get your foot in the door as a bookkeeper, accounting clerk, or payroll specialist, getting some professional experience as an administrative assistant can help.
Some of the requirements to become an administrative assistant include:
Time management skills
Attention to detail
Ability to multitask
The median pay is $19.71 per hour when you work in this role.
A loan officer assists their customers in getting approved for loans. They’ll evaluate market trends to assess the best options so that they can provide support and recommendations for their clients.
You don’t need a formal education to become a loan officer. However, you need extensive financial knowledge.
Loan officers get a median pay of $30.75 per hour.
Keep in mind that this isn’t an entry-level role. If you see yourself working as a loan officer, consider starting your career as a loan assistant instead. Keep reading to learn more about loan assistants.
Unlike loan officers, loan assistant jobs are entry-level roles. As a loan assistant, you’ll interview loan applicants to get their background information. You’ll also review their application documents.
To become a loan assistant, you need:
Strong communication skills
The ability to strictly follow procedures
The pay is an average of $20.57 per hour for loan assistants.
As a tax preparer, you’ll be responsible for reviewing and preparing tax return documents. This can either be for individuals or simple small businesses.
You can work as a freelancer, start your own business, or work for someone else in this role. In any case, you’ll need to take a tax preparation course, either from a school or a company. This isn’t a complete degree.
For instance, the federal tax course from National Tax can take eight weeks or 12 months, depending on what pace you want to go at. They also state that each of the 20 modules takes about eight hours to go through.
The IRS also requires you to get a Preparer Tax Identification Number to legally do this work.
Working as a tax preparer pays an average of $25.34 per hour.
A collections representative communicates with customers to collect late payments. Because you’ll often be on the phone, you need strong communication skills to do this job.
Most collection agencies require their collection representatives to have a high school diploma or equivalent. You’ll get on-the-job training to learn how to interact with customers.
The pay is an average of $19.53 per hour for this role.
Are you interested in starting a career in accounting? Here’s how to find the best accounting job opportunities near you.
Before you start hunting for accounting jobs, you’ll need to prepare your resume so that you can sell yourself as an ideal candidate in this field.
First, add a resume summary or objective statement that shows your interest in accounting. For example, maybe you want to become an accounting manager one day. Or perhaps you see yourself leading a specific department after you’ve accumulated enough experience, such as the accounts payable department.
Next, add any relevant experiences and skills that recruiters will find valuable, whether they’re related to your work history or not. If you’ve done your own taxes in the past, make sure to add this information. Also, remember to include any jobs in which you’ve handled cash or financial transactions of any kind.
Some important skills to add to your resume include:
Strong communication skills
Attention to detail
Proficiency in mathematics and deductive reasoning
These are some of the skills you can develop during your free time as you’re hunting for your new job.
Once your resume is ready, you can start looking for job listings. You’ll find many of them on Jobcase.
First, go to Jobcase.com and click on the “Jobs” tab on the top menu.
You’ll land on the job search page. Choose your location and type a relevant keyword depending on the type of accounting job you want. For instance, you can type in “bookkeeping.”
Next, click the “Search” button. You’ll start seeing job listings appear.
Optionally, you can check the remote work option if you’re interested in working from home.
Look through the job listings to see what jobs interest you and bookmark them. Make sure to read each listing carefully — some hiring managers add specific details that tell applicants how they can apply, including tricks. Some may require you to add a phrase like “my favorite ice cream is cookies and cream” in your cover letter to prove that you read the instructions carefully.
Feel free to apply to all jobs that interest you, even if you don’t tick all the boxes. Of course, if a company needs someone with 5–10 years of experience when you have none, you may not be the best fit.
Go back to all the job listings you’ve bookmarked and begin applying for each one. Every time you apply to a new accounting job listing, remember to customize your resume to prioritize the skills they’re looking for.
You’ll also need to write a cover letter for each application. Some companies won’t require a cover letter, but you should still take the time to write one. You should only avoid writing a cover letter if the listing specifically states you should NOT include one. These job listings will usually require you to provide another type of introduction, such as a short video.
You can use the same bare-bones cover letter for each application. However, just like your resume, you should customize the letter for every unique job opportunity.
Here are some ways you can customize your cover letter:
Research the company’s website and find its mission statement or values. Then, use your cover letter to describe how those mission values resonate with you and how you, as a potential employee, will contribute to upholding those values.
Look through the company’s social media posts to see if they have any recent notable achievements. Congratulate the company in your letter and state how you feel you can contribute to their future achievements.
Use specific qualifications or experience they asked for in the job listing to describe why you’re the ideal candidate.
Finally, have someone proofread your cover letter and your resume before you send them in. If you don’t have anyone to help you, use a proofreading tool like Grammarly and read your content aloud. The latter will make it easier to “hear” any mistakes you’ve made.
Now that you know that you don’t need a four-year degree to work in accounting, you’re free to pursue your passion if you’ve always dreamed of working in this field.
Make sure to sign up for Jobcase to start growing your professional network and stay aware of accounting job listings opening up near you.