By William Cowie
How Much Is An Accounting Course?
Short answer: It varies.
Long answer: It depends on where you study, how you study and what you study.
Ok, so that wasn’t that much longer. Let’s take a few minutes and flesh that answer out a little more!
Basic accounting courses
To learn basic accounting principles, it costs very little at all. You’ll probably be able to pick up most of the essential principles by spending some time researching accounting online and taking the time to practice those skills. Some sites (usually government or advertising supported) have accumulated large databases of knowledge for your use. All it will cost you is your time and access costs for the internet.
If you’re not confident in your online research skills, or you’d like someone to package the accounting course for you, there are introductory accounting courses available for a small cost ($100-200 is quite normal). These can easily be found online, but it’s questionable how much value they offer, compared to the free resources readily available.
Qualified accounting courses
You’ll find a big leap between basic accounting courses and those that offer you a genuine and valued qualification you can put on your resume.
Most decent intermediate accounting courses that teach you real skills – like the Certificate IV in Accounting – run for around a year or two, full time. The price also increases – you’ll pay around $1500 for a Certificate 4 in Accounting or $2000-$4000 for a Diploma of Accounting – but at the end of it you’ll have valuable skills and a real qualification.
Unfortunately for international students in Australia, if you don’t have access to Commonwealth supported places, prices for these qualifications can be much higher. Do your research before you enrol!
Advanced accounting courses
Not satisfied with those options? Try a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting! You’ll have the opportunity to develop an intimate knowledge of accounting and high level accounting skills over the normal 3 year full-time schedule! Fees can run to $10,000+ per year for an Australian domestic student with access to HECS-HELP; and $20,000+ for international students.
You can also continue your education with post-graduate, master and doctoral studies in accounting. These can run for various lengths of time, anywhere from a semester to many years depending on your program and workload. Enquire with a higher learning institution to find out their course fee structure for advanced degrees in accounting.
Online vs classroom study
Once you start paying for quality Certificate IV in Accounting or Diploma of Accounting level courses, the difference between online and classroom based tuition can be significant. Taking a competitive online program can save you $100s or $1000s over face-to-face instruction. University degrees can also be cheaper when delivered online. Many people also enjoy the non-monetary benefits of online education – flexible schedules, less time spent commuting, self paced learning, among others. Online education does require you to be effective at time management and disciplined about completing your study.
Whichever option you choose, don’t forget all the little extra costs you need to add to your course expenses – textbooks, internet connections, computers, transport and/or parking fees, plus time spent travelling to-and-from from TAFE or university.
Career outcomes of your accounting studies
Which course is right for you? If you want to learn accounting for your own personal finances or to run your own small business, you’ll likely be able to learn all you need with online research or a basic accounting course.
However! If you’d like to formalise your accounting skills and earn a qualification that can be put on your resume, it definitely helps to get a Certificate IV in Accounting or better and work hard to develop your practical skills.
A recent conversation with a bookkeeping services company based in Australia revealed that they require applicants for their bookkeeping and accounting roles to have a Certificate IV in Accounting or Bookkeeping as a minimum qualification. Additionally, they do their own testing of job candidates to evaluate skills, so it really pays to know your stuff.
Many companies will continue to invest in professional development for you and the rest of the team. You can also pursue more training opportunities on your own – many people start with a Certificate IV in Accounting and then continue learning while they’re also working and earning an income in the accounting profession. The Certificate IV in Accounting or Bookkeeping is the preferred entry path for the Diploma course, and students can then progress to an advanced Diploma and even university.
So choose a course that suits you and get stuck into it! You can’t finish if you never start and there is no time better than the present to get on your way to a new career.
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