Discover the Best Accounting Classes Online
Accounting in today's workplace is a great deal more than just reckoning beans. It's a complex discipline, complex enough that you can fill an entire four-year bachelor's degree program with it and still have more to learn. Accounting is keeping track of a business' money, where it is, where it's going, and how much there's going to be afterward. Since companies are designed to make money, and money is counted in numbers, everything in business eventually comes down to numbers, and accountants are the people who keep track of them. Whereas it might once have sufficed to maintain ledgers for accounts payable and accounts receivable, things like payroll, taxes, and SEC filings for publicly-held companies have made accounting into a virtual science and accountants into highly skilled applied mathematicians.
Why You Should Learn Accounting Online
Learning accounting can get you started on a well-paying and stable career: even when a company goes under, the accountants are the very last people to get laid off. There is a steady need for accountants of all types, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts stable growth in the profession for the years 2021-30. If not exactly the most glamorous of careers, accounting is a dependable one, and it needn't be as boring as accounting jokes make it out to be. To the numerically-minded, numbers can be compelling, and there is definite job satisfaction in getting a balance sheet to balance.
For small businesses just starting out, learning to be your own accountant can save you money on hiring a professional and allow you to keep track of how much money you have in the business. Even if your company has grown beyond that stage and you do need a professional accountant to help out with the numbers, you can only benefit from understanding accounting procedures and being able to read your own balance sheet. Money is too important a commodity for you not to know how to keep track of it.
Finally, being accounting-literate can stand you in good stead, whatever your role. There are executives who have to be sent to remedial accounting bootcamp because they can't "read" numbers. Knowledge of accounting procedures (and not only the most basic of them) can be a great help to just about any career since, sooner or later, a balance sheet is going to make its way to your desk, and you'll be expected to know how to read it.
Virtual Accounting Classes
The virtual classroom has emerged in the past twenty years as a respected learning modality. In a live online class, you have the same real-time access to the teacher that you have in a live in-person class, as the proceedings take place in real-time, so ask a question, and you shall receive an answer. Live in-person and live online courses are fully comparable, with several sizable advantages in the convenience department as credits on the online class' side of the ledger. The biggest of these is that you don't have to go to class: you can follow the proceedings from any place that has a stable internet connection. You're thus spared commuting time and hassle and can go to school from the comfort of your own space, be that your home or your office. In addition, the breadth of your selection of online accounting classes is much wider than that which is available in your locality, even if that should be a major city.
If you're interested in wading in at the shallow end of the metaphoric accounting pool, the American Management Association can offer you How to Speak Accounting. In the space of an afternoon, you'll learn the fundamentals of accounting terminology and get over your fear of being found out as an accounting illiterate who doesn't know a balance sheet from a cash-flow statement. If you need more of a background in financial terminology and practices, the AMA has you covered with Fundamentals of Finance and Accounting for Non-Financial Managers, a two-day course that starts off with defining assets and liabilities and distinguishing a journal from a ledger and works its way through to cost accounting, payback method, and break-even analysis. AMA classes are interactive and taught by professionals with experience in teaching as well as in accounting.
If you're instead trying to make head or tail out of accounting procedures so that you can keep your own books, Colorado-based Digital Workshop Center, a provider of all manner of professional development classes, bootcamps, and certificate programs, teaches a Bookkeeping Fundamentals class for beginners that teaches the basics of accounting along with their application to the use of QuickBooks. The class runs for three weekday afternoons (Mountain Time).
Digital Workshop Center has you covered if you need more than just the fundamentals, too: QuickBooks Online for Beginners also runs for three afternoons and, using an intensive and hands-on approach, gives students with small businesses the knowledge they require to track their business' financials using the popular software. If your business has expanded to the point at which you have a payroll, you may also wish to consider Payroll Fundamentals, which will teach you how to use QuickBooks to manage paying your employees like a professional accountant.
Another option for learning QuickBooks is provided by Chicago-based Computer Training Source. Their QuickBooks Desktop Part I starts at the beginning and teaches students how to manage inventory, sales, invoicing, and processing payments. The class has a follow-up in the form of QuickBooks Desktop Part II, which goes into reports, graphs, and payroll.
Not all online accounting classes focus on basic bookkeeping. Something very different but highly useful to those who are already working in accounting roles in companies that conduct international commerce is the series of classes in International Finance Reporting Standards (IFRS) offered by IASeminars. IFRS differs from the prevailing standard in the United States (GAAP, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.) To comply with IFRS requirements, considerable study is required, whence classes in such topics as A Focus on IFRS 9 Financial Instruments, A Focus on IFRS 15 Revenue, and A Focus on IFRS 36 Impairment of Assets. Those aren't the only topics covered in the internationally-minded IASeminars course listing: they also teach a series of classes in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting, beginning with an Introduction to ESG Reporting that will be of assistance to accountants, lawyers, managers and investor relations professionals alike.
Also far afield from the basic accounting classes described above is the Financial Modeling Bootcamp from New York-based Noble Desktop. The course teaches students how to construct a discounted cash flow (DCF) model using Excel and has participants build a complete financial model using real-life corporate data. They, therefore, perform the kind of financial analysis they'd be performing on the job as opposed to merely solving hypothetical accounting problems.
Online vs. In-Person Accounting Classes
If you want to take an accounting class, that class can take one of three forms: a live class on traditional school premises, a live class across the internet, or a video tutorial. Of these three options, the first is likely the one with which you're most familiar since it's how you were taught to learn beginning in preschool, but that is no reason to despise the second option, the virtual class. Far from being an invention of the pandemic years, the use of the internet as an instrument of higher education dates back to the 1980s, and it has since imposed itself as an effective learning modality.
There will certainly always be people who feel they will learn best in a live classroom in which they share the same airspace with their instructor. In an online class, you're admittedly not breathing the same air as the teacher, but you both interact at the same moment in time and, thus, can exchange questions and answers as though you were occupying the same spatial coordinates as well. You can even get called on by the teacher and show off how much you've learned to the amazement of your virtual classmates.
You can't deny that an online class is more convenient than one you have to attend in person. Especially when you're tired from a long day, you'll appreciate being able to go home, put on something stretchy and comfortable, and sit in your favorite chair while you attend class. Yes, there may be something to get used to when you switch from traditional schooling to the online variety, but you can navigate the learning curve easily, and you'll be used to online learning in no time. If you find that the course that best suits your needs is an online one, and you've never taken an online class, by all means, give it a whirl. If you hate it, you'll know never to try it again; if you're like most people, however, you'll find you've discovered a handy tool for your continuing professional education.
Can I Learn Accounting for Free Online?
An additional and even more convenient option for online learning is the video tutorial: a series of pre-recorded classes that teach you when and where you want, but, unfortunately, without the possibility of feedback from the teacher. Will this work with such an involved and meticulous subject as accounting? Yes and no. You can certainly get a good idea of what accounting is all about by watching videos, be they paid (on platforms like Udemy or Coursera) or free (on YouTube.) You can probably even use video tutorials to learn how to carry out basic accounting procedures using QuickBooks. You will, however, hit a wall sooner rather than later, and as the subject matter becomes more intricate, you're going to need to be able to ask questions and receive human feedback if you're ever going to be able to understand intermediate and advanced accounting procedures.
What to Learn After Accounting
Is there life after an accounting class? Yes, of course, although that life is going to involve more classes. Top-notch bean-counting skills will get you part of the way with your career in corporate numbers, but there are some softer skills you're going to need as well, especially when your job brings you face-to-face with non-accountants. Number one on that list is being able to manage the words that come between the numbers on the reports you're writing. To that end, you may well wish to consider the 2-Day Business Writing Workshop given by the American Management Association.
While you're polishing your written communication skills, you might also consider adding some luster to your verbal communication skills as well. Another American Management Association class can come to your aid here: the Business Communication Certificate Program takes three full days to complete and enables participants to develop a communication style all their own. In addition to that program, which concentrates mostly on one-to-one workplace communication, you can think about signing up for something along the lines of Zenspeak Public Speaking Center's ten-session intensive class, Overcome Your Public Speaking Fear. Lots of people dread having to give oral presentations, although the path to business success is paved with being able to speak coherently in front of a conference room full of colleagues and managers. A class in public speaking can work wonders and stand you well above the crowd, both at work and when the dreaded occasion of having to give a best-man (or maid-of-honor) speech rears its ugly head. If you're not sure about committing to the ten-class program, a trial class is available to help you decide.