Undergraduate and graduate students alike are typically required to choose from several specializations for an accounting major. A specialization complements the broad accounting degree nicely as it helps students choose electives and focus their studies on a specific area of the field. However, many students aren’t aware of the specialities that exist, their purpose in the accounting industry and how their choice of a certain specialization may affect coursework as they continue through the degree program. Before choosing an accounting specialty, consider the following common options.
It’s easy for accountants to succumb to irregularities, which is why a significant number of accounting degree programs focus on accounting laws, industry regulations and generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Even so, some businesses or corporations succumb to accounting irregularities and fraud in order to make their companies appear more profitable or successful than they are. Students who specialize in auditing and forensics can work as government investigators, forensic accountants and external or internal auditors. These professionals not only investigate, audit and review accounting work but they may also serve as a witness in cases against companies or individuals accused of unethical or illegal accounting practices.
It’s important for students who wish to hold a management position have the appropriate background to do so. Students who choose a management accounting specialization will be able to execute accounting work on behalf of the managerial team and develop the skills necessary to oversee accounting departments. Management concentrations give accountants a business-based, broad background that is critical when advancing to higher levels of leadership in a public agency or corporation. Both pursuits provide accountants with more opportunities to advance throughout the course of their careers.
Individuals with a financial accounting specialization are typically employed in larger corporations and work on quarterly results, official earnings statements and more. Corporate work also opens up the door to a variety of pathways to executive-level leadership and management such as chief financial officer. In the financial accounting specialization, students will learn how to report a company’s full financial standing to government stakeholders, consumers and shareholders. They will also develop a fundamental understanding of how federal regulations govern how corporations document profits and expenses as well as how and when expenses and profits are reported.
The tax accounting specialization provides students with the fundamentals of preparing tax returns for individuals, nonprofits and corporations so that the returns may be quickly filed with state revenue departments or the Internal Revenue Service. Most tax accounting focuses teach students about the ethical considerations that go along with managing tax filing and preparation as well as the software used to electronically file taxes at the federal and state levels and tax law as it pertains to a number of situations. Advanced issues in personal or corporate tax laws and services may also be included in Master of Accountancy degree programs.
Employers are increasingly looking for candidates with accounting specialties when considering applicants for job positions, and more colleges and universities are beginning to offer these areas of focus. Students who are trying to choose specializations for an accounting major should first determine whether the preparation of financial documents, investigation or management most appeals to them and choose the appropriate specialization.
Related Resource: Top 10 Online Colleges for Accounting