In order to teach college accounting, aspiring professors must meet quite a few requirements and standards. First and foremost, teaching any subject on a college campus requires education beyond the undergraduate level. Along with this solid foundation in the field of accounting, most community colleges and universities require professors to pursue graduate education, professional certifications, and extensive experience in the industry, before they’ll allow an accountant to transition into an educational role in an on-campus setting. In order to properly prepare for a career in this field, consider the major requirements and guidelines for landing an entry-level position at most colleges and universities.
Education: A Graduate Degree is the Minimum Requirement in Most Cases
Professors are often among the most highly educated people in their field of study or practice, and that means pursuing education well beyond the undergraduate level. Accountants who have completed a B.S. or B.A. degree in the field should next seek admission to a graduate program in the same field. Generally, a Master of Science in accounting or a Master of Accountancy will be the best two options. While some MBA programs do offer an accounting concentration, this often falls well short of the 18-credit minimum required by most universities to be a “highly knowledgeable” individual in the accounting field.
While a graduate degree in accounting is sufficient for some teaching opportunities, especially adjunct roles at a local community college or at online institutions, it’s not the end of the road for professionals seeking tenured professorships. Instead, those accountants must continue on to a Ph.D. program in accounting. These programs are extremely rigorous, with a mix of academic coursework, scholarly research, published written works, and a comprehensive accounting exam. Most programs take at least three years to complete, though some might take twice that amount of time.
The CPA Exam: A Must-Pass for Professors of Accounting
The CPA exam is another way for accountants to prove their expertise, whether it’s to land a job in accounting or teaching. The exam measures an accounting student’s mastery of GAAP principles, basic ethical and professional guidelines, and public accounting for individuals and organizations alike. This test can only be taken after the completion of a graduate degree in most states, and it’s often the first step toward enrolling in a doctoral program for seasoned accountants. Most universities require tenured hires to have passed this exam as a way to verify their knowledge and commitment to the basic principles of their profession.
Work Experience: Crucial for Some Colleges
Work experience should not be ruled out as an important part of landing a teaching job in accounting. Community colleges are especially fond of hiring seasoned professionals who have the right blend of practical experience and graduate education. Tenure-track roles will also require at least a little practical accounting experience alongside undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees in the accounting field. By combining these degrees with experience and certification, candidates will stand their best chance of advancing through each round of the hiring process and landing the position.
A Rigorous Set of Requirements for a Rewarding Position
Collegiate teaching jobs in the accounting field are among the most demanding within a typical business program, thanks in large part to the high stakes of accounting education and the rigorous standards of accrediting bodies like the AACSB. Accountants who wish to teach college accounting should focus on advancing their education and using their advanced skills in a practical, professional setting, in order to maximize their chances of transitioning to a role in academia.