The Real Cost Of Counting Money

By Ellen Wilson


If you’re considering an accounting degree, by now you probably know demand is high and salaries are good, but you also have a natural interest in the bottom line. What’s it going to cost you to earn your degree?

Many factors affect the cost of earning an accounting degree. As with any other post-secondary education, the type of degree, where you’ll earn it, whether you’ll study part-time or full-time and your living arrangements are all factors.

The type of degree you want to earn might be different whether you want to be an accountant, an auditor or a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). How quickly you need to get into the workforce is also a factor.

If you want to be positioned to go to work quickly, get your foot in the door and begin learning on the job, you might pursue an associate’s degree. A two-year degree is the least expensive option, $2,700 a year on average, and it allows you to begin earning more quickly. You can further your education after joining the workforce, as well.

For many positions, a bachelor’s degree is a requirement. If you study at a public college in your home state, you’ll pay about $7,200 a year for tuition and fees whereas if you go out of state, you’ll be paying about $12,000 a year. Going to a private college is more costly, and prices vary more. You’ll pay between $27,000 and $45,000 annually.

A meal plan, if you stay on campus, will run about $2,000 to $4,000 a semester. Additional technology and activities fees will run between $400 and $515 a semester. Health care costs could run about $2,400 a year and parking could cost between $400 and $600 annually.

Certification as an internal auditor will cost about $3,000.

Becoming a CPA has additional costs. Application fees range from $30 to $200. The exam fee is usually between $800 and $1,000. Ethics exams, separate, but required by most states, cost between $75 and $130. Review courses vary widely, but a self-guided course guidebook or software package can cost between $70 and $200 while more extensive or college-level coursework may run to $4,000. Licensing fees are between $30 and $400.

In all, your costs may seem staggering, but what you’ll gain will make it worthwhile.

Demand for jobs based on accounting study is expected to grow steadily over the next decade, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, meaning your prospects for steady employment are good. Your compensation will be better than average, as well. In fact, a study by ForbesWoman and ranks entry-level pay for people in business and finance at number 9 among the top 10.

As you gain experience and perhaps invest in additional certification, your salary will increase, as well.

But, beyond the standard of living achieved by accountants, auditors and CPAs, you’ll learn valuable skills that will help you to be able to invest wisely and manage your own money better, meaning you’ll be better able to maintain a satisfying lifestyle and you’ll be better prepared for retirement, too.


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