The Truth Behind an Accounting Major: Hard, Boring, or Good?

So, you love math and crunching numbers.

But you also love looking for answers and communicating your findings.

Here’s a major you might want to consider in college: accounting.

Accounting is a good major in that it’s flexible, and working as an accountant after earning your bachelor’s degree in accounting is not the only career option available.

It’s also one of the most popular majors among undergraduate students.

Surprisingly, accounting is also difficult, even though many choose to concentrate on it.

Hardcore math enthusiasts may find accounting a boring major because it entails basic arithmetic only, though degree-seeking students who like solving problems and thinking analytically may find accounting an engrossing major.

accounting major

What Majoring in Accounting is Like

In a nutshell, accounting is all about maintaining financial accounts.

Accounting majors prepare for their careers by learning various accounting principles, including auditing, budgeting, discrepancy resolution, reporting, and tax regulation.

Your education as an accounting major will start with a broad liberal arts education.

Eventually, you will encounter more and more accounting-related courses, including introduction to accounting, taxation, and the principles of macroeconomics and microeconomics.

Math courses such as calculus and statistics will also be a part of your education, but you will cover only the basics.

Is Accounting a Popular Major?

There’s no questioning that accounting is one of the most popular majors out there.

Numerous most popular majors list include accounting in the top 10 — for instance, College Factual puts accounting at number eight, while Authority puts it at number 10.

However, it’s worth mentioning a report by The Wall Street Journal.

According to it, approximately 47,070 students earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting in the 2021 to 2022 academic year, which was 7.8% lower than the previous academic year.

It cites the following as the reasons why fewer students majored in accounting at that time:

  • Lower salaries compared to banking and tech
  • Wariness of completing 150 credit hours to obtain a certified public accountant license

Is Accounting a Hard Major?

Accounting is one of the hardest majors.

Besides several lists of the most popular majors, various lists of some of the hardest majors also include accounting.

Although many courses contribute to the difficulty level of accounting, some courses are simply more challenging than the rest, leaving some undergraduates with headaches and bad grades.

Here are some of the hardest accounting classes mentioned by various Reddit users:

  • Accounting and Management Information Systems
  • Corporate Tax
  • Cost Accounting
  • Intermediate Accounting I and II
  • Tax Accounting

So, just how hard is accounting?

Allow me to give you another idea:

A ranking of the most sleep-deprived college majors in America by The Tab includes accounting in the long list, which puts architecture at the top — architecture majors get only about 5.28 hours of nightly sleep.

On the other hand, accounting majors get approximately 6.21 hours of sleep per night.

Close up of female accountant or banker making calculations. Savings, finances and economy concept.

Do You Have to be Good in Math to Major in Accounting?

You don’t have to be a math whiz to major in accounting.

Believe it or not, math is not the primary skill you will need to succeed academically as an accounting major — it’s vital to know basic math skills, but you will have to rely on other skills as an accounting major.

Here are the most crucial soft skills accounting majors must have:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • Data analysis
  • Leadership
  • Organization
  • Problem-solving
  • Software proficiency
  • Teamwork
  • Time management

Don’t get me wrong — you must have a good grasp of arithmetic and basic algebra.

However, you will not need to have advanced mathematical skills such as chemistry, physics, data science, and engineering majors to be able to understand various accounting and financial concepts.

Is Accounting a Competitive?

Whether or not accounting is a competitive major depends on the program.

For instance, many colleges and universities require students who wish to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program in accounting to have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5.

Some institutions offering more competitive accounting programs usually require at least a 3.0 GPA.

Enrolling in an undergraduate degree program in accounting at a regionally accredited institution is a must.

Similarly, if you plan on attending graduate school after earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting, check for programmatic accreditation, such as by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

financial examiner

Best Accounting Schools and Careers

A career in accounting starts with enrolling in an accounting degree program.

Then, getting an entry-level job commences your accounting career.

Because it’s a popular major, numerous colleges and universities are offering a degree program in accounting — your choice would have to boil down to location, cost of attendance, financial aid award, and other crucial factors.

In most instances, a bachelor’s degree in accounting is enough to boost your career options and earning potential.

However, it’s not a terminal degree, and many accounting majors spend two more years in a university to earn a master’s degree in accounting (MBA) to further broaden the opportunities available to them.

Top Undergraduate Accounting Programs

Is an accounting degree hard?

Accounting may be popular, but not because it’s easy — earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting can be challenging, especially for students whose interests lie elsewhere and whose skills are more appropriate for a different major.

The difficulty level of accounting should be the least of your worries if you want the best career opportunities.

When planning on majoring in accounting, see which schools offer the best program.

Allow this top 12 best undergraduate accounting programs by US News to kickstart your search:

#1University of Texas at AustinAustin, TX
#2University of Illinois Urbana-ChampaignChampaign, IL
#3Brigham Young UniversityProvo, UT
#4Indiana University – BloomingtonBloomington, IN
#5University of Michigan – Ann ArborAnn Arbor, MI
#6University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, PA
#7The Ohio State UniversityColumbus, OH
#8University of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles, CA
#9New York UniversityNew York, NY
#10Boston CollegeChestnut Hill, MA
#11University of Notre DameNotre Dame, IN
#12University of FloridaGainesville, FL
tax accountant

Highest-Paying Jobs for Accounting Majors

You can work as an accountant with a bachelor’s degree in accounting under your belt.

However, most companies prefer to hire CPAs — to be a CPA, you must have a graduate degree in accounting or take additional credits or obtain a certificate to meet the minimum requirements for the CPA exam.

But you can worry about that after completing your undergraduate accounting degree.

In the meantime, majoring in accounting is enough to open doors to some well-paying entry-level jobs.

So, is an accounting degree worth it?

Allow the following jobs available for accounting majors and their respective median annual salaries to let you determine whether or not working on a bachelor’s degree is a sound educational investment.

Job PositionAverage Salary Per Year
Financial modeler$105,436
Investment adviser$78,463
Insurance underwriter$76,390
Business analyst$74,167
Financial adviser$74,129
Financial planner$69,737
Cost estimator$65,170
Loan officer$63,380
Sales agent$62,910
Tax examiner and collector$56,780
Account manager$54,294
Accounting clerk$44,465
Accounting assistant$28,621

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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