What are Some of the Most Commonly Used Accounting Programs I Should Become Familiar With?

Ready to start your journey?
DegreeQuery.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Accountants are tasked with keeping detailed financial records and creating reports, as well as preparing taxes. Although in the past it was possible to carry out all these tasks entirely by hand, the advent of accounting software has made things much easier.

But with so many useful programs on the market, many students find themselves feeling overwhelmed by all the options. Let’s eliminate the confusion and take a look at the most popular accounting software on the market today!

DegreeQuery.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

 Why is finding the best accounting software so important?

In the modern age, some businesses simply have too many transactions to log everything manually. With the sheer amount of data that accountants must daily process, accounting software is essential. It allows for rapid processing of new transactions and provides  easy access to old data as well.

Another perk of using accounting software is that it greatly increases accuracy. When calculating everything by hand, people are bound to make mistakes—especially when working with such a vast array of data! However, accounting software greatly reduces the chance of making an error and generates more accurate results all-around.

Which software do most businesses use?

Between dramatically faster data processing and easy access to old info, it’s no wonder why almost all businesses have transitioned to using accounting software. Now let’s take a look at some of the most popular options on the market today.

QuickBooks Accounting

QuickBooks is one of the oldest, most trusted names in accounting software and has dominated the competition since its release in 1998. According to the QuickBooks website, it’s trusted by a remarkable 85% of businesses that rely on accounting software. This versatile program offers small business owners the ability to:

  • Send invoices
  • Pay bills
  • Create detailed financial reports
  • Plan for taxes

There are many different versions of QuickBooks for businesses to choose from, such as:

  • QuickBooks Pro: This version of QuickBooks is geared towards new users and is considered easier to learn than some of the others. It’s a great first choice for students or people who want to become familiar with the software to increase their future job opportunities. After mastering QuickBooks Pro, all the other versions should be much easier to pick up.
  • QuickBooks Online: A cloud-based service that allows users to access the platform online for a monthly subscription fee.
  • QuickBooks Point of Sale: A new service specifically geared towards customers who wish to generate sales data. It offers inventory tracking, customer information, and more.
  • QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions: This “ultimate” version of QuickBooks is meant for businesses that are already well-established. Inventory management and detailed report creation are just a few of its enhanced capabilities.
  • QuickBooks for Mac: Even businesses who use Macs can rely on QuickBooks for their accounting software. The Mac version is essentially the same as the Windows version of QuickBooks Pro, with a few minor differences.

Because of its extreme popularity, it’s highly recommended for all accounting students to become familiar with QuickBooks before applying for their first job. Detailed knowledge of this software alone is often enough to impress an employer!

Xero Online Accounting

Xero Accounting was created in New Zealand in 2006 by accountant Rod Drury, who believed other accounting software was outdated. Unlike QuickBooks, it’s intended for mid-to-large sized businesses. This web-based accounting software allows users to access their data from anywhere. It also allows unlimited users from any single business, which can be highly beneficial for a larger company with many accountants. To access Xero, users must pay monthly subscription fees.

Some of Xero’s most beneficial features include the ability to:

  • Connect directly with banks to allow automatic transaction flow
  • Send invoices with the option of paying online
  • Run payroll across 50 states
  • Track ways to be more profitable on certain jobs
  • Analyze fixed asset depreciation
  • Track payments across multiple currencies

Wave Accounting

According to its website, Wave Accounting is specifically designed for small businesses, freelancers, and consultants.  Like Xero, Wave Accounting is entirely web-based. This means you can access the software on your phone or laptop from anywhere with internet service. However, the thing that sets Wave apart from all the other software on this list is that it’s completely free to use!

If you’re interested in working for a small, family-run business, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with Wave. The software has many helpful capabilities, including:

  • Invoicing
  • Payroll with bank account linking
  • Payment tracking
  • Credit card processing
  • Billing

Zoho Books

Zoho Books is a cloud-based program that’s trusted by small businesses across America. It shares many of the same capabilities as other popular software on this list, such as:

  • Contact management
  • Invoicing (with built-in templates)
  • Expense and time tracking
  • Inventory management

One of the many perks that make Zoho Books appeal to small businesses is its reasonable pricing plans. The most basic option is only $9, and the deluxe version isn’t much more expensive at $29.


While all accounting software has a learning curve, FreshBooks prides itself on being easy to understand—even for people without a detailed background in accounting. This makes it ideal for freelancers and small business owners who may not be able to afford a full-time accountant.

Some of FreshBook’s most popular capabilities include:

  • Customizable invoice creation (with easy-to-use templates)
  • Automatic late fees for overdue invoices
  • Recurring invoices automatically sent on schedule
  • Multi-currency billing
  • Multi-language invoices
  • Easy discounts
  • Friendly payment reminders
  • Retainers

Like QuickBooks, FreshBooks is a great “starter program” for someone who wants to learn the ropes of accounting software without a massive time commitment. Its ability to carry out essential functions without the hassle of other programs sets it apart from the competition and makes it a staple for many small businesses across the country.

How can I become familiar with all these programs?

As an accountant, most of your day will be spent logging transactions and processing data: That’s why it’s so important to find a program you enjoy using! Starting with a “beginner” program like FreshBooks or even QuickBooks is a great way to work your way up to using more advanced software like Xero Accounting.

No employer expects a candidate to be an expert in every program on the market. They understand that it takes time to get familiar with any accounting software—and in most cases, they’re perfectly willing to work with you and help make that happen.

Even if you’ve never used a certain program before, when starting a new job, you’ll most likely be provided with on-the-job training that ensures you’ll be an expert at using the company’s preferred software in no time. And if you start to feel overwhelmed by all the options out there, remember: If you can learn to use one accounting program, you can learn to use them all.

DQ Staff

March 2020

More Articles of Interest: