Do you aspire to get a degree in accounting? An associate degree could be your easiest bet.

With affordable tuition costs and less time investment, this degree could prove to be the best choice for you if you wish to quickly enter the workforce.

Generally, accounting careers are highly rewarding, but with an associate degree, you can only expect entry-level roles, if the situation demands there is always an option to upgrade your studies. That’s the beauty of an associate degree.

So, if you are tight on your education budget and want to be job-ready really quick then you shouldn’t be looking ahead than an associate degree in accounting.

To help you out, in this article, we have aimed to discuss everything associated with the associate degree in accounting including the admission requirements, course curricula, how can you get it, pros and cons, careers and salary; and much more.

So, stay tuned –

Associate Degree in Accounting

Associate Degree in Accounting

Many consider the associate degree as a first step into the field of Accounting because it allows you to join entry-level roles and then upgrade your studies with online degree courses or part-time enrollment, as well.

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Course Overview

Course Credits 60
Course Duration 2 years
Course Cost $10,000 to $30,000
Annual Average Salary $45,560

Admission Requirements

To get admission to an associate degree in accounting you need to possess certain requirements. The standard admission requirements are as follows –

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • GPA of 2.5 or higher
  • SAT or ACT scores

What will you Learn?

FAQs accounting

Just like any other associate degree, it offers you foundational concepts in accounting, finance, and business. However, the curricula may vary depending on the school, so it is advised to check the curricula with your school.

The standard course curricula –

  • General Education
  • Principles of Financial Accounting
  • Principles of Accounting
  • Business Accounting
  • Cost accounting
  • Introduction to macroeconomics
  • Federal taxes
  • Payroll accounting

What is the Difference between an AA, AAS, AAB, or AS in accounting?

The associate degree in accounting is offered under many titles, but they differ in their coursework. The different titles are, AS – Associate of Science in Accounting, AA – Associate of Arts in Accounting, AAS – Associate of Applied Science, and AAB – Associate of Applied Business.

Let’s discuss each of them and discuss what differentiates them.

AS, Associate of Science Degree

This degree typically concentrates on technical and quantitative skills. This means you need to study maths and science. Teaching science and maths is important to equip students with proper knowledge to tackle more complex problems. Also, you may see more tax calculation, business accounting, or marketing courses.

AA, Associate of Arts

This degree is more focused on general education with an elective subject in accounting. The course is more generalized and you need not spend much time on technical subjects like math.

However, in the elective subject, if you choose accounting, you will also learn the same thing like tax calculation, business accounting, or business and finance.

AAS, Associate of Applied Science

Like the AS degree, under this degree option, you need to study math, tax law, business, and finance.

AAS, Associate of Applied Business

This degree concentrates more on business and accounting. This will equip you with the skills necessary to work in business accounting departments. The coursework includes business ethics, management, and business finance topics.

Confused about which one to choose?

Well, 2 factors could help your choice-making.

For continued education, the AA and AS degree options are better for their highly transferable credits feature.   

In contrast, if you wish to jump to start earning quickly, the AAS and AAB programs are just tailor-made for you.

So, now you know about the degree titles that you need to choose depending on your career goal and interest. Like, if you hate math, you could choose AA and still get a degree in accounting.

Now, let’s discuss, how can you get one – 

Read More:

-> Is an Accounting Degree Worth it?

-> Requirements for Accounting Degree

-> How Long Does It Take to Get an Accounting Degree? 

How to get an Associate Degree in Accounting?

Online Accounting Degree

If you aspire to start a career in accounting then getting hold of an associate degree in accounting could prove well. But, you must be wondering how you can enroll in the associate degree.

Don’t worry, we are here to help. Here is the step-by-step guide that deals with all your concerns.

Step 1 – Research Schools

You begin your journey by researching the schools that provide the best AA or AS degree in accounting, depending on your career goals, location, tuition costs, and any other personal preferences.

Step 2 – Check Admission Requirements

Your choice of school would have different admission requirements, so review it closely. Although, most of the schools have common admission requirements, do check the above-mentioned points.

Step 3 – Apply for the School

Now, You need to fill in the application and submit it with all the asked details and attach the required materials. Be sure to meet deadlines.

Step 4 – Complete the Coursework

An associate degree would have 60 credits and take around 2 years to complete for full-time students. Check the above-mentioned course curricula and prepare accordingly.

Also, you might need to complete the assignments, and clear all the semester exams to demonstrate your understanding of the subject and be eligible to acquire the degree.

Step 5 – Get the Degree 

So, considering you have appeared and successfully passed the exam, you get your associate degree in accounting. Considering your program choice, you will receive an AS, AA, or ABA degree in accounting.

Step 6 – Consider Internships or Externships

Post-completion of the program or during it, if you get some hands-on experience opportunity, you should try it. Carrying out those attentively can provide real-world exposure and enhance your resume making you job-ready.

Step 7 – Explore Career Opportunities

Now, that you have some experience, and an accounting associate degree in hand, you can explore various entry-level career opportunities. Your career will grow with each passing day.

Step 8 – Consider Upgrading your Education

If the situation demands, or if you wish to progress in your career, you should upgrade your education to at least a bachelor’s level. You can also do that online.

Your credits from the associate degree would get transferred, and this will ensure a reduction in tuition cost and time investment. So, you should start saving and try to acquire a bachelor’s degree to be on the safer side. 

If you aspire to careers such as CPA, controller, or accounting manager jobs then you need to try to acquire a Master’s Degree in Accounting.

Associate Degree in Accounting Online

Course Duration – 1 to 2 years

Course Credits – 60

Course Cost – $2,880-$20,000

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Most of the online platforms provide an AS, Associate of Science (AS) in accounting degree. The education provided is more or the same with similar course curricula.

Post-completion of the course, you can either continue to get your bachelor’s or master’s, or you can start earning by joining some entry-level positions.

There exists a misconception about the worth of the online degree, but we can safely say that the online degree certificate also holds the same value as that of the traditional one.

More On -> Online Accounting Degree

Pros and Cons of Associate Degree in Accounting

What Jobs Can You Get with an Accounting Degree

The Associate degree in accounting is the quickest way you can embark on a career in the field of accounting. Post the degree, you become eligible for entry-level roles in the field.

Just like any other degree, even with an associate degree in accounting, there exist some advantages and disadvantages. Let’s discuss them, starting with the pros first.

Pros of Associate Degree in Accounting

The advantages of getting an associate degree would vary depending on your situation. Here are some pros of the degree option –

Costs Less

Compared to a bachelor’s degree an associate degree costs half. Also, there are other ways to decrease it further, like by opting for online courses or applying for scholarships.

Not all have the luxury of an education budget, so even if you aspire for a career that requires a higher degree, you can get an associate’s first, earn and save for the tuition cost, and then upgrade your education.

This flexibility it offers is great. Also, you can transfer the credits of your degree, so the time required for you to get a bachelor’s would be adjusted. So, you save on that as well.

Less Time Investment

Time is money, we all know that. An associate degree takes around 2 years to complete, compared to a bachelor’s that takes 4 years. With time comes expenses as well, so you save on that as well.

Also, if you wish to further your education, your credits are transferable, and you save some time again.

So, while choosing the associate degree option try to see the larger picture and opt for the degree that suits you for your career planning.

Quick entry into Workforce

With an associate degree, you enter the workforce in as little as 2 years. The investment that you made to get the degree is also comparatively lesser, so the debt pressure would not exist for you.

You become eligible for entry-level roles like accounting clerk and can earn a good salary of upwards of $45,000.

Cons of an Associate Degree in Accounting

The pros outweigh the cons, if you want to choose an associate degree. But there exists some. Let’s discuss some of the main disadvantages of getting an associate degree.

Only Entry-Level Roles

With an associate degree in accounting, you become eligible for only entry-level or clerk roles. The roles are – Accounting assistant, Billing clerk, Bookkeeper, Payroll clerk, etc.

The clerical roles pay less, comparatively. To upgrade to accountants or similar roles, you need to upgrade your education. Let’s discuss them below.

Low Earning Potential

On average, as per BLS data of 2021, the ones with associate degrees achieve clerical jobs, and have an earning potential of $45,560 per year. This is not below par salary but you might not struggle with it as you age. The solution is to upgrade your education to a bachelor’s degree.

Need to Upgrade Education

To be on the safer side, and to progress your career, you should upgrade your education to at least a bachelor’s level. You can also do that online. Your credits from the associate degree would get transferred, and this will ensure a reduction in tuition cost and time investment.

But the need to upgrade, and again start the student’s journey is there with this degree option. However, the process is eased out but it can turn hectic to maintain the study with the existing job.

Read More:

-> Forensic Accounting Degree

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Associate Degree in Accounting Jobs with Salary  

On average, as per BLS data of 2021, bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks have an earning potential of $45,560 per year. But the financial clerks earned comparatively less, only $44,760 per year. 

Overall, with an associate degree you become eligible for entry-level roles and we have listed them all with their respective salary data.

Accounting Assistant Annual average salary: $43,511

Accounting Clerk Annual average salary: $37,500

Accounts Receivable Clerk Annual average salary: $36,425

Account Resolution Specialist Annual average salary: $46,850

Accounts Payable Clerk Annual average salary: $38,333

Bookkeeper Annual average salary: $43,237

Payroll Clerk Annual average salary: $53,211

Payroll Assistant Annual average salary: $48,220

Audit Clerk Annual average salary: $43697

Billing Clerk Annual average salary: $42,283

Billing Specialist Annual average salary: $45,628

More on –> What Jobs Can You Get with an Accounting Degree?

FAQs – Associate Degree in Accounting

What Can I Do with an Accounting Degree

How Long Does it take to get an Associate Degree in Accounting?

The course duration of your associate degree in accounting will depend on your learning pace, effort, and ability to clear the semester exams.

However, depending on the formats the standard course duration is –

For the traditional way – 2 years.

For Online – 1 to 2 years.

Can we become an Accountant with an Associate degree?


To become an Accountant, you need to acquire a Bachelor’s degree. But post-completion of your associate degree you can then enroll in a bachelor’s degree program and then become eligible to become an accountant.

You can also pursue your bachelor’s degree by continuing your job. For that online BS programs would be of great help.

What salary can we get with an associate degree in accounting?

With an associate degree in accounting, you become eligible for entry-level jobs. The earning potential depends on the designation of the jobs.

Check the jobs section in the article to know better. However, you can earn somewhere from $45,000 to $60,000 per year.

Is an associate’s degree in accounting worth it?

The Associate degree in accounting is the quickest way you can embark on a career in the field of accounting. Post the degree, you become eligible for entry-level roles in the field.

Here are a few facts to consider –

  • An associate degree would cost less and finish quickly.
  • You can earn from $45,000 to $60,000 per year.
  • If your career goal demands upgradation of education, the credits are transferrable and you can get a bachelor’s degree.

Considering all these aspects, it appears to us, that the associate degree in accounting is worth it.

How much does it Cost to get an Associate Degree in Accounting?

The course costs of an associate degree in accounting depend on the format of your education.

If you have enrolled in a college or university full-time, on-campus, then you might be required to spend between $10,000 to $30,000.

There might be associated other costs as well, like traveling, fuel, parking, books, and other miscellaneous expenses. 

If you opt for an online school, then it might require you to spend between $2,880 to $20,000 depending on the school.

You can further make the course cheaper by opting for scholarships and aids, for both traditional and online courses.

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About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.