How Long Does it Take to Learn Accounting?

Learning accounting doesn't have to be a daunting endeavor. With the right preparation and mindset, you can embark on a rewarding academic journey that could lead to an array of career opportunities across various industries.

Key Insights

  • Accounting qualifications typically take between two to four years to attain, depending on factors such as personal learning pace, prior experience, and the type of program pursued.
  • Accounting provides insight into a company’s financial health and plays a vital role in reliable decision-making, cost planning, and the measurement of economic performance.
  • The skills acquired from learning accounting can be beneficial in various career paths, including roles as an auditing clerk or accounting assistant. Those with full accounting degrees have the added advantage of exploring international opportunities.
  • The learning journey in accounting involves completion of classes in accounting, finance, and taxation. The chosen career path may require specialized courses and possibly internships for hands-on experience.
  • Before embarking on accounting studies, individuals should consider factors such as prior academic experience, their learning preferences, their reason for studying accounting, and their preferred speed of learning.
  • Salaries for accounting positions can range widely, but the investment in education often leads to a rewarding career in terms of both job satisfaction and financial compensation.

Like many aspiring accountants, individuals may worry that learning accounting will take too much time. Most experts agree that accounting qualifications take three to four years to master, but earning an accounting degree in as little as two years is possible. The estimated time it takes to become an accountant involves many factors. Keep reading about how you can learn accounting and resources to speed up the process. 

What is Accounting?

Accounting involves recording financial transactions and storing and presenting the results in different reports or analyses. It provides proper insight into a company’s financial health. Different accounting types include financial, management, and tax accounting. Employing Accountants is necessary for every company. 

Experts Accountants are crucial to a company’s reliable decision-making, predictable cost planning, and accurate measurement of economic performance. In small businesses, accounting may be handled by a bookkeeper or an accountant, some of which work part-time for several companies. Larger companies may have entire finance departments. 

Learn more about accounting, why you should learn it, and possible careers through Noble’s comprehensive guide

What Can You Do with Accounting?

Accounting can be a challenging but enjoyable field of study. Individuals can use their skills to start a business or improve their lives outside work. Generally, accounting courses provide valuable knowledge on managing a budget and expenses effectively. 

By completing accounting courses, individuals learn a broad range of topics. Beginner-level accounting courses cover tax returns, financial statements, and computer applications like Microsoft Excel. Advanced courses may dive deeper into financial analysis and presentation, auditing, fraud examination, and international accounting. The more courses an individual completes, the more options the same individual has. Each course opens doors to different career paths. Possible roles for those who have taken some accounting classes include an auditing clerk or an accounting assistant. 

Students who complete full accounting degrees may take advantage of international opportunities. Individuals who wish to work abroad can easily find jobs overseas, as most accounting principles are not specific to one region. Good recommendations for career advancements and can be used as stepping-stones for other degrees. There are several opportunities to volunteer for large organizations, as they constantly need more Accountants. Individuals can even use their degrees to further their education towards other topics, such as law. 

Average Time it Takes to Learn Accounting

There is no exact answer regarding how long it takes to learn accounting. The length of time it can take to receive a degree can vary. Those wanting a CPA certification will need additional coursework and time. Those wishing to earn their MBA will need extra time for graduate-level courses and exams. On average, it takes about four years to earn an accounting degree. It can take anywhere from two to four years overall to learn. 

While learning accounting skills, individuals begin with researching and determining the type of program they wish to pursue. Throughout years two through four, individuals complete accounting, finance, and taxation classes. They will then decide on a career path and take more specialized courses based on their chosen path. Based on their chosen career path, some individuals may search for internships to gain more experience in their desired field of study. 

Other Factors

When deciding to learn accounting, there are different factors that individuals may want to consider, such as prior experience, complementary topics, their purpose for learning accounting, and their speed of learning. Individuals may begin learning by reading books to familiarize themselves with how to create finance spreadsheets. 

Prior Experience

When learning accounting, it is essential to consider that individuals must complete different prerequisites. Individuals should understand basic mathematics and take mathematics classes that are more advanced, such as calculus, algebra, and statistics. Individuals should also understand information technology. It may be helpful to enroll in computer science classes to understand information technology better. Other prerequisites include business, economics, finance, and management classes. 

Complementary Topics

Several topics are helpful in understanding accounting. When learning accounting, it is beneficial to be well-versed in finance, as finance and accounting play an essential part in maintaining the overall success of an organization. It is also helpful to know business strategies, as many business skills are required in accounting. Individuals must have excellent communication and problem-solving skills and several other soft skills to do well in the workplace.

Personal Learning Preferences 

Individuals may want to consider their personal learning preferences when learning accounting. Those who wish to train from home may want to consider virtual accounting classes, while those who would rather train in a classroom may want to enroll in in-person classes. It is crucial to consider the pace at which one wishes to learn. Virtual classes may be offered live online or have a self-paced curriculum. Individuals unable to dedicate time to live online classes should instead take self-paced accounting classes. 

Purpose for Learning

Individuals may have different purposes for learning accounting. Determining one’s purpose can help to ensure that an individual is taking the correct courses. There are many reasons an individual may want to learn accounting. Individuals may like to learn accounting to manage their finances more efficiently. Accounting knowledge provides individuals with a deeper understanding of what goes on with their finances. Those who own businesses should consider learning accounting to understand basic principles such as managing costs, cash flow, invoices, and payroll. Others may want to learn accounting for career advancement opportunities or to be more effective in their current roles. 

Level of Difficulty, Prerequisites, & Cost 

Anyone involved in business knows that accounting is an important skill to have. It is crucial to saving time and money and is a necessary part of running a business. Business owners and managers recognize that accounting is not just using numbers and issuing receipts. Individuals must be able to gather and report information and use those reports to communicate a business's financial position and performance. Once stakeholders have crunched and analyzed the numbers, they use the information to make future decisions.

To become an accounting expert, Individuals begin by learning basic terms and principles. Learning vocabulary first allows them to develop a foundational knowledge of accounting practices. Then, they learn to apply these practices, allowing for more sound financial decisions. Beginner-level courses teach critical financial statements by using examples from actual company financials. Other topics in many beginner courses include accrual accounting, income statement basics, balance sheet equations, and statements of cash flows. 

All future students must complete several prerequisites before earning an accounting degree. First, individuals must have advanced knowledge of high-level mathematics and be skilled in information technology. Typically, accountants have completed several computer science classes. Individuals must also take entry-level business, economics, finance, and management classes. Each accounting class may cost from $253 to $1,263. 

Read more about how difficult it is to learn accounting.

Watch a Free Accounting Online Course

Anyone looking for an overview of accounting can start learning for free online! Free, beginner-level courses are valuable for busy individuals to learn accounting basics. Noble Desktop offers a variety of free seminars on multiple topics. To get started with accounting, check out the accounting seminars on Youtube. Through these seminars, individuals gather a general idea of basic accounting concepts. 

Noble Desktop’s Youtube channel contains various free financial modeling videos, which combine accounting, finance, and business with learning how to determine a company’s future results. Individuals can view these free Youtube tutorials to learn about mergers and acquisitions, the LBO Model, Transaction Comps, Business Risk, and other topics. Focus on the most recent uploads to learn the most up-to-date information. Some free accounting videos include Financial Modeling: LBO Model-Step 1 and Financial Modeling: LBO Model-Step 2

Other providers around the country offer free online tutorial videos. Some of the more popular companies include Coursera and Udemy. Udemy offers shorter tutorials, like an Introduction to Management Accounting or an Overview of the Moving Average Crossover System in Accounting. They post some longer videos, like an Introduction to Financial Accounting. Coursera also offers an accessible Introduction to Financial Accounting course. 

Read about more free accounting videos and online tutorials.

Learn Accounting with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

Individuals can learn accounting through finance classes with hands-on training at Noble Desktop. Finance courses boast small class sizes, expert instructors, and free retakes. Noble’s Financial Analyst Training Program teaches excel and critical financial and corporate finance options. Individuals gain basic and intermediate skills in Excel while learning to build a comprehensive valuation model for a public company. Critical concepts taught include advanced Excel for financial modeling and accounting, corporate finance, and valuation. 

Noble also offers Intro to Financial Accounting, through which individuals master the fundamentals of financial accounting and begin taking the next steps in accounting or finance. Enrollees see real-life examples and go through real 10-K’s to better understand how accounting concepts apply to large companies such as Facebook, Amazon, and Apple. 

Key Insights

  • Before learning accounting in a program, individuals should consider factors such as prior experience, complementary topics, their purpose for learning, and their speed of learning.. 
  • When learning accounting, it may be helpful to have prior experience in mathematics, computer science, business, economics, finance, and management. These skills are also complementary to accounting skills. 
  • Personal learning preferences will help individuals decide which type of instruction is best for them. 
  • There are various reasons for learning accounting, and determining a purpose for learning can ensure that individuals take the correct courses. 
  • Comprehensive accounting training is available through in-person or live online courses with Noble Desktop. 

How to Learn Finance

Master finance with hands-on training. Learning skills like financial modeling, stock investing, and data analysis can help pave the way to a career in finance or FinTech (financial technology).

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