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Guest Blog: Why Students Should Consider an Accounting Minor

Earning a minor in accounting is like the forgotten middle child for many undergraduate students. Much more attention is paid to pursuing either an accounting or finance major, or a double major with the two.

Don’t get me wrong, an accounting major is a great choice for a lot of students and opens up career possibilities after school. However, too many students discount an accounting minor.

My name is Michael Norum, and I am an MBA student at Viterbo University and financial advisor at Northwestern Mutual. Additionally, I am studying for my CPA exams and am a Gleim Campus Representative program alumnus.

Now, let’s talk about the benefits of pursuing an accounting minor:

1. Less intensive than an accounting major:

Many accounting majors are designed to be 150 credit hours so that graduates can sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exams. This is usually achieved through a mix of internship credits, summer classes, and an additional major or minor.

While comprehensive, this usually requires students take an extra semester or year to complete their degree. This can be off putting to those looking to get out in four years.

Accounting minors, however, usually are only in the 15-21 credit range, making them more attainable than a major. It may even be possible for students to “double dip” or take classes that satisfy requirements for their major as well as their minor. Also, an accounting minor usually does not have to take advanced accounting courses as a major would.

2. It complements other majors

An accounting minor is a great complement to many other business majors. A common combination is an finance major and an accounting minor. These two fields of study are correlated and complement each other. Finance majors looking to add a minor should consider an accounting minor as it will help to increase their understanding of accounting.

It can also provide students with a different way of thinking. Marketing and management majors are, for the most part, trained to think creatively while accounting disciplines think concretely.  

3. It can help make job seekers stand out

Previous work experience and a college major will have the biggest influence on what job someone gets post-graduation. Having a minor that complements their major can help to elevate students above their peers.

An applicant that has an accounting minor demonstrates a few different things to employers. They demonstrate that they understand the flow of money within an organization, how to interpret financial statements, and how a change in one area of the organization will affect other areas.

Depending on the courses taken as a part of the minor, the applicant may also be knowledgeable in specialized areas such as tax, accounting information systems, or auditing.

4. Opens up doors for designations

Designations such as the CPA are usually thought of as only being pursued by accounting majors or those who work in a traditional accounting role. Having an accounting major is not indicative of one’s ability to successfully pass accounting designations.

 Depending on the state, the CPA does have educational requirements such as:

  • 150 total credit hours AND
  • 24 undergraduate AND OR 15 graduate accounting credits covering
    • Financial Accounting
    • Managerial accounting
    • Taxation
    • Accounting Information Systems
    • Auditing

An accounting major would cover all of these courses, but a minor may not. This poses a problem for accounting minors who wish to take the CPA. Those students who wish to earn the CPA have a couple different options.

One option is to pursue a master’s degree and fulfill the missing accounting courses. Another option is to take individual accounting courses post-graduation to satisfy the required courses. Both of these options are easier if a student has an accounting minor and may only need one or two additional accounting courses.

The CPA has the most stringent education requirement of the most common accounting designations. The Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) and Certified Managerial Accountant (CMA) only require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. The EA does not even require a degree to obtain.

5. Good for entrepreneurs

Those who have a desire to be an entrepreneur can benefit from an accounting minor. Accounting is the language of business and being able to understand financial statements is imperative to business success.

A business owner can outsource many accounting functions through services like QuickBooks and H&R Block Advisors. To be successful however, business owners must still be personally knowledgeable about the financials in their company.

Bonus Reason, Accounting is Fun!

This one is more subjective than the other reasons, but accounting is fun! Accounting and fun are not usually found in the same sentence, but to some, including myself (and hopefully you too), accounting is exciting.

Personally, I find taxes to be very interesting and get very excited when I can find clients ways to save money on their tax bill. Investors looking over financial statements are, whether they know it or not, using accounting to make financial decisions. The FBI even employs forensic accountants to trace the money flow from illegal activities.

Summary

Adding an accounting minor is a great way for students to broaden their knowledge about the language of business. Knowledge in accounting enhances learning in other business disciplines. An accounting minor is a great tool for students to leverage in their search for employment as well as their pursuit of designations. So, let us stop treating an accounting minor as the middle child and pay it the attention it deserves.