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Can I Learn Basic Accounting Online?

A person sitting at a desk working on an accounting course on their laptop

So, you're interested in accounting but aren’t sure if earning your bachelor’s degree in accounting is the right move for you. Or, maybe you’ve already started your career but want to elevate your skills and knowledge in accounting. Can you learn basic accounting online without having to commit to a full degree program?

In short, you can.

There are online learning options that can take you through the basics of accounting to help either kick-start your degree or upskill for your career. 

“No matter what area of business a student may enter, accounting is the language of business, and having a good foundation will help them to understand how all areas of business tie back to accounting,” said Suzette Pounds CPA, MACC, an accounting faculty member at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). “Accounting affects every aspect of business and every individual.”

What is Basic Accounting?

Basic accounting is a crucial part of a successful business and its financial management, and is vital for making informed financial decisions. It's the process of recording, classifying and summarizing financial transactions to track a company’s or individual's cash flow, financial position and operations, according to Indeed.

“In its simplest terms, accounting describes the process of tracking an individual or company’s monetary transactions,” said Pounds. “Through recordkeeping, accounting tells a story of the financial health of a business, and also an individual.”

Understanding basic accounting is important because it provides you with the financial tools needed to manage finances and comply with financial regulations properly. Taking an accounting course can ensure you have the knowledge and skills to do so.

How Can I Learn Accounting Basics?

Suzette Pounds with the text Suzette PoundsThere are many routes to take if you want to learn the basics and some universities offer single courses vs. enrolling in an accounting degree program.

If you plan to take an online accounting course, be sure to consider whether it includes the essential tools and skills you'll need in the real world. According to Pounds there are many benefits to taking your online course through a university.

“The benefits of taking an online basic financial accounting course ... gives students a valuable foundation to accounting,” she said.

According to Pounds, a basic financial accounting course can provide you with a competitive edge in the workforce, as well as financial literacy in your personal financial life.

“Education and, in particular, accounting, gives the student the confidence to enter the workforce. Most accounting instructors, including myself, are professionals, having worked in industry,” Pounds said. “That real-world experience that instructors can share with students helps to prepare the students with the why, or theory, behind why we do what we do in accounting.”

Within your accounting course, you'll have an opportunity to focus on a comprehensive curriculum that includes:

  • Analyzing financial accounting information
  • Communicating to stakeholders
  • Preparing financial statements
  • Understanding the steps of an accounting cycle

There are other opportunities to learn accounting on websites, videos, e-books and online textbooks. But in Pound's online accounting classes, she teaches her students accounting skills through robust discussion topics that relate to accounting in current events.

“Students need to be equipped with the knowledge of accounting regulations and how they affect the business environment," said Pounds.

What are the Benefits of an Accounting Course?

When considering taking an online accounting course, think of what you are hoping to get out of it because there are many benefits to gain from the opportunity, including:

  • Starting your accounting education
  • Learning or improving on accounting skills
  • Professional advancement in your career
  • Enhancing your job opportunities

Online accounting courses can offer you the foundational skills you may need to consider a new role or move up in accounting. Coursework from an accredited institution also offers the opportunity to prove your educational knowledge through academic credit. Online accounting courses can also serve as the impetus to advance to a degree in accounting.

"Students may take this basic accounting course and realize that they want to major in accounting," said Pounds.

Accounting is a fundamental skill required across all businesses and organizations. The knowledge you'll gain from your accounting course can make you more attractive to new job opportunities or move up in your current position.

Whether you're hoping to start in the field or already have a successful career, taking an online accounting course can help prepare you for your next step — whether that's a certificate, associate degree or bachelor's degree.

Pounds said the industry is evolving but remains a "recession-proof" profession because accountants will always be needed in a variety of fields, such as:

The skills learned in basic accounting online can have many benefits, providing you with the necessary assets to work in various roles and industries and giving you the confidence to succeed.

"I believe the word accounting scares off some potential students because the statement I hear from prospective students is that they are 'not good at math,'" she said. "Sure, accounting works with numbers, but there is so much more to accounting than numbers. Communication and collaboration in a business environment are key to success in accounting." 

Education can change your life. Find the SNHU accounting course that can best help you meet your goals.

Alexa Gustavsen '21 is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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About Southern New Hampshire University

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SNHU is a nonprofit, accredited university with a mission to make high-quality education more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Founded in 1932, and online since 1995, we’ve helped countless students reach their goals with flexible, career-focused programs. Our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH is home to over 3,000 students, and we serve over 135,000 students online. Visit our about SNHU page to learn more about our mission, accreditations, leadership team, national recognitions and awards.