What degrees can I earn?
When it comes to fund accounting, the only degree level available is a certificate earned in fund accounting graduate programs. Programs that offer degrees allow you to take graduate level courses without having to complete a masters degree. In addition, some programs offer a similar certificate in government and nonprofit accounting.
These programs generally do not have any prerequisites, though they are often meant for accounting professionals and recommend that you have you some background in accounting. The programs usually take less than a year to complete and consist of 10 to 20 credit hours.
Are there any programs online?
When searching for schools online, you will find that there are many accredited online colleges that can accommodate your distance learning needs. An online college that also has a traditional campus will typically offer the best program since you will have opportunities to meet with other students as well as the flexibility to learn at your convenience.
Since you cannot earn an associates orbachelors degree online, most courses are taught at the graduate level and require some background in accounting principles. You can expect to take courses in government accounting and reporting, nonprofit accounting and budgeting for government and nonprofit organizations. Remember, though at the graduate level, these courses do not lead to a masters degree.
An online MBA is not usually offered by colleges, but some MBA accounting programs do feature an in-depth fund accounting course as a part of the curriculum or as an elective. Since your degree will not specify fund accounting, make sure to communicate to employers through your resume or during job interviews that you have taken colleges courses in the subject to highlight your specialized knowledge.
What kinds of classes will I take in my program?
Fund accounting is different from financial accounting, but it builds on the same topics. For this reason, courses are usually offered at the graduate level or at least require some foundational accounting knowledge.
At all levels, you will take a fund accounting principles course that covers the basics of the subject as well as how it differentiates itself from financial accounting. Because fund accounting is predominately used in government and nonprofit organizations, you will also take courses that cover how accounting works in these types of entities, including courses on public budgeting and financial management.
What careers can I choose from?
Fund accounting is used by nonprofits and government agencies, meaning that fund accounting jobs typically involve working within the accounting systems of these kinds organizations. You can get a job as a staff accountant, grant manager or even chief financial officer, but since these jobs are in the nonprofit industry, a fund accounting salary is usually not as competitive as a salary at a private corporation.
Staff accountants prepare financial reports for decision makers such as upper management and executive officers. As a staff accountant, your responsibilities would include accounts receivable, accounts payable, grant reporting and budgeting. You typically need a 4-year bachelors degree in accounting to get this position. The salary for these accounting jobs at a nonprofit is around $45,000.
Nonprofit organizations often rely on grants as a main source of cash flow in order to maintain operating costs. Grant managers are skilled in finding grants, writing and preparing grant applications and budgeting the use of grant money. Usually you need a 4-year bachelors degree to gain employment, though some places require a masters degree, which can take 2 years to complete. On average, grant managers make a salary of about $55,000.
Chief financial officer
Nonprofit organizations need individuals who are well versed in fund accounting in order manage the company’s finances. The chief financial officer is in charge of all financing activities as well as overseeing legal compliance regarding the nonprofit. To get this position, in addition to a 4-year bachelors or a 2-year masters, you will need at least a few years of experience in the industry. Depending on the size of the nonprofit, these can be one of the best careers in fund accounting, as salaries can range from $30,000 to over $100,000.
Is there anything else I should know about getting a degree?
There are organizations that offer a fund accounting certification. The Government Accountants Association grants the certified government financial manager (CFGM) designation and the National Association of Nonprofit Accountants and Consultants can designate you as a certified nonprofit accounting professional (CNAP). Getting an accounting certification can help distinguish you among other applicants when you search for a job, but it is not essential.
There are no continuing education requirements for CNAPs, but CFGMs must complete 80 hours of training every 2 years as a part of renewing their certification. Although it is not required for CNAPs, continuing professional education is a great way to keep up with the latest updates in the industry.