Many high school students have an idea what they want to major in long before they start sending in their college applications. The benefit of knowing what your college goals are early in is that you can take steps now to help you prepare for success in your accounting degree program and, later, in your career. By taking the right classes in high school, understanding what’s required to reach your career goals and networking with others in the field, you can start working toward success even before you have attained your high school diploma.
Take Math and Business Courses
There’s a reason many high schools offer basic accounting and business courses. These subjects of study are valuable for students on just about any career path, regardless of whether they plan to jump right into the workforce or attend a prestigious university. They can help students begin to grasp the basic concepts of accounting and business principles and practices. They can also give you a small taste of what your future education could be like. If you think you might want to major in accounting, you should certainly take any accounting or business courses your high school offers to make sure that the field is something that you enjoy and to start building your knowledge base.
Of course, business and accounting classes are far from the only high school courses that matter. It’s important that you complete high school studies at the college preparatory level in a wide range of subjects, especially math. Many Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree programs require students to complete at least foundational courses in algebra and pre-calculus, if not more advanced studies in algebra and calculus. Taking these courses at the high school level can help you become familiar with the topics you will need to know as a college student. If you choose an advanced placement (AP) high school class in subjects like these, you may even have the opportunity to test out of the college equivalent of the course, saving yourself time and money. Computer skills and communication skills are also valuable for prospective accountants, so be sure to work hard in your English and computer courses, as well.
It’s not only the classes you take that prepare high schoolers for accounting degree programs, but also the skills you develop in critical thinking and understanding the thought process behind sifting through variables that affect financial climates.
Learn About the Path to Becoming an Accountant
One step you should take as an aspiring accounting major is to think about what your journey to earn a degree and start your career will look like. Preparation for an accounting career – especially a career as a Certified Public Accountant – is somewhat different than preparing for careers in other fields. An aspiring CPA will need to spend an additional year in school. This fact could prove to be a problem if you only learn that you need more education when you’re nearing what you thought was the end of your studies. You will need to pass an intense exam to attain licensure, while your peers in other career paths will undergo different credentialing requirements or avoid a need for licensure altogether.
You might be surprised at how much of this preparation can, and should, be done while you’re still in high school. Summer break during your high school education is the perfect time to visit top business schools, according to U.S. News & World Report. Some accounting schools offer high school summer programs that equip students with new skills and allow them to discover what the college experience is really like.
If you’re interested in a career such as FBI forensic accountant, you could benefit from FBI opportunities for high school students, such as the Teen or Youth Leadership Academy.
Connect With Accounting Professionals and Students
You don’t have to wait until you’re a full-fledged accountant to start networking. Whether you’re looking for your first internship opportunity or simply wondering what life as an accountant is like, connecting with others who are studying or working in accounting can help you prepare for your own career path.
During college, many accounting students complete internships to gain work experience, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Networking early on can help you get access to the internships in the highest demand, which in turn can help you expand your network.
There are many ways to start networking. You can check with your state’s society of CPAs to see if it offers any kind of career day or other networking event for high schoolers. Finding a mentor in the field of accounting can also help you prepare not just for college, but for your career success beyond the degree. The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) even launched its “Start Here, Go Places” website to help high school students interested in accounting. Students who join this community can learn about different career opportunities and accounting terms.
The AICPA also created an interactive online accounting game, Bank on It, to help high school students learn, according to Accounting Web.
Accounting degrees are among the most popular fields of study, with it and other business subjects making up 20 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in the U.S., according to The Washington Post. Taking the right steps in high school can help you stand out from the crowd of college applicants and ultimately graduate at the top of the class with your accounting degree.