Finding the right college courses isn’t always easy. If you’re weighing your options, adding a minor in accounting might be on your list. Whether you want to break into finance, start your own business, or just manage your own money better, this guide will help gauge whether adding that minor to your academic journal is a good idea for you.
Related Readings: Is Accounting Hard If You’re Bad at Math? Not Necessarily!
What are you going to learn from an accounting minor?
Let’s first look at some typical accounting minor courses taught at US universities.
The Accounting Minor at UCLA is comprised of both required and elective courses, as shown below:
Intermediate Financial Accounting I & II
Tax Principles and Policy
Financial Statement Analysis
Corporate and Partnership Taxation
Special Topics in Accounting
Basic Managerial Finance
Similarly, the Accountancy Minor at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business requires students to complete three core courses and choose two additional courses from a provided list.
Accountancy I & II
Accounting Measurement and Disclosure I
Accounting Measurement and Disclosure II
Strategic Cost Management
Data Analytics in Accounting
Audit and Assurance Services
To conclude, a typical accounting minor curriculum includes two types of focus: 1) the fundamentals of accounting and 2) the real-world application of accounting knowledge such as budget management, financial statement analysis, and tax.
How is a minor in accounting going to benefit your career?
Let’s discuss how the two knowledge types can elevate your career.
Knowing the fundamentals of accounting
Knowing the accounting basics is extremely helpful if your goal is to work in a corporate business setting. It can make many tasks easier and clearer. Let’s go over why this is the case.
If your goal is to work in finance:
If you’re steering into the world of finance, understanding accounting gives you a clear edge. Consider this: you’re evaluating a startup for potential investment. With accounting expertise, you don’t just see raw numbers. You can spot and analyze trends (such as how this startup can grow by cutting costs) or warning signs (like increasing short-term debts). These insights hint at the startup’s future potential or existing challenges.
Here is another example: this knowledge is invaluable when brainstorming ways to finance new projects. It helps you evaluate options like issuing new stocks or taking out loans, with a deeper understanding of their implications. Without accounting knowledge, the decision will not be well-informed.
Lastly, understanding basic accounting is key when comparing ‘budgeted’ numbers to ‘actual’ results. Accounting shows the real money flow, and you can determine the cause of a variance very quickly, such as those due to the cost accrual.
There are endless examples of how accounting can benefit a career in finance; understanding accounting is crucial because the two fields are closely connected.
If your goal is to work in other roles:
- Marketing & Sales: Understanding profit margins, cost structures, and return on investment can help marketing and sales teams effectively set campaign strategies and budgets.
- Operations & Supply Chain: Tracking inventory, managing procurement budgets, and understanding cost flow can help streamline operations and reduce inefficiency.
- Product Management: Knowing the cost structure can help with pricing decisions, product profitability analysis, and investment decisions related to product development.
- Information Technology (IT): Modern-day accounting is not based on paper. It’s heavily relied on the ERP and other systems. Implementing an ERP or accounting software can be challenging. It’s absolutely valuable to have a solid understanding of accounting principles.
- Legal: Lawyers, especially those in business law, can benefit from understanding financial statements and accounting implications during mergers, acquisitions, or other business deals.
While the depth of knowledge required might vary, a foundational grasp of accounting can be beneficial across numerous roles in a business, aiding in making informed and efficient decisions.
Knowledge for real-world implications
- Personal Finance: Accounting knowledge helps you track income and expenses, leading to better spending and savings habits. One example is managing mortgages, loans, and credit card debt.
- Taxes: Fill out tax forms correctly and find the best deductions to get more from your tax returns.
- Investing: Analyze company financial statements and investment opportunities, ensuring your money is parked at the right place.
In essence, accounting isn’t just for businesses; it’s a toolkit for various real-world financial situations, arming you with the insights to make smarter decisions.
What can you do with an accounting minor?
We talked about benefits. But is there a specific job you can hold with an accounting minor or some skill sets that are marketable by themselves?
Absolutely. While a minor in accounting may not provide the full spectrum of knowledge that a major would, it does equip students with a solid foundation in accounting principles that can be applied directly in various job roles. Such as:
- Bookkeeper: Maintaining financial records, reconciling bank statements, and preparing basic financial statements are tasks typically managed by bookkeepers. An accounting minor provides a solid foundation for this role.
- Audit Assistant: Accounting firms often hire assistants to aid auditors in their tasks. While they don’t make final audit decisions or at a level to review other’s work, they do assist in the process, ensuring data accuracy and compliance.
- Accounts Payable/Receivable Clerk (AP/AR): These positions involve managing cash either coming into or going out of a company. An understanding of accounting helps ensure accuracy and timeliness. We have also written an article discussing whether Accounts Payable is a good career.
- Tax Preparer: With proper training and certification, someone with an accounting minor can assist in preparing tax returns during the busy tax season.
While an accounting minor may not directly qualify you for roles that require in-depth expertise, it does provide valuable foundational knowledge. This knowledge can serve as a stepping stone to various entry-level positions. When paired with other qualifications or degrees, it can enhance one’s marketability in the job market.
Can you get a CPA with a minor in accounting?
In short: Yes. However, an accounting minor is unlikely to be sufficient on its own to meet all the educational eligibility to sit for the CPA exam. But with additional coursework (such as staying an extra year in college, taking summer courses, getting credits from community colleges, or getting a master’s degree in accounting), you will certainly be able to meet the eligibility.
In what situation is an accounting minor not worth it?
While an accounting minor can offer the advantages listed above, there are situations where it might not be the best choice. Here are some circumstances where pursuing an accounting minor might not be worth it:
- Mismatched Career Goals: If you’re certain about pursuing a career that’s far removed from business or finance (such as pure arts, medicine, or pure sciences), then the specifics of an accounting minor might not provide much benefit.
- Demanding workload: College can be demanding, and if you’re already juggling a challenging major, extracurricular activities, work, or other commitments, adding a minor might stretch you too thin and affect your overall performance. Because an accounting minor offers its own knowledge and rules – it’s not the easiest curriculum in college.
- Lack of Genuine Interest: As mentioned above, accounting is not easy. If you’re not genuinely interested in the subject, you might find it tedious and challenging. Merely having a minor on your resume without a genuine understanding of it might not serve you well overall.
In essence, while an accounting minor can be a valuable addition for many, it’s crucial to consider personal, academic, and career goals.
It is worth adding an accounting minor unless your career goal is outside of a corporate or business setting.
The decision to pursue an accounting minor comes down to what you hope to achieve. This minor offers practical skills beneficial in both personal and professional realms. From managing finances to entering roles like bookkeeping or financial analysis, it is a solid stepping stone for many careers in the business world.
However, it’s essential to consider if it aligns with your career aspirations. If your career goals are outside the business arena or if you’re already deep into similar studies, the minor might not add as much value.