Like numbers? Maybe that adds up to a future in accounting

May 4, 2017
Two smiling women looking at a computer and paperwork

Maybe numbers get you jazzed, but geometry isn’t your deal. Perhaps you love business but don’t know where to start?

Why not accounting?

Every business regardless of size or location needs an accountant. Tidewater Community College offers a variety of options from two-semester certificates to associate degrees in accounting or business to get you started depending on your goals.

Better yet, no geometry required!

Should you enjoy math? Sure, said TCC’s Bill Conner, associate professor in accounting on the Portsmouth Campus. “But even if you’re bad at math, we can teach you the skills you need to succeed,” he said.

Career opportunities are endless.

student and professorl
Accounting program head Cindy Bird
(on right).

“Not only does every business need an accountant, within accounting itself there are so many specialties,” said Cindy Bird, program head for accounting on the Virginia Beach Campus.

The possibilities include auditing, consulting, corporate tax, international tax and local tax planning with jobs plentiful in the federal government and private industry.

“Not only does accounting require you to get the numbers down, you get to decipher what they mean,” Bird said. “It’s more than crunching numbers.”

Which of TCC’s programs should you choose? That depends.

If you want to be a certified public accountant and you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, consider TCC’s Associate of Science in Business Administration rather than its Associate of Applied Science in Accounting.

The only accounting classes students earning the business associate take are Principles of Accounting I and II.

“If you’re transferring to Old Dominion University or another four-year, they want to teach the accounting classes,” Conner said. “Like any transfer program, by choosing this path, you will get all of your general education requirements at TCC.”

Elizabeth Iman, who will graduate in May with plans to transfer to ODU in the spring, chose that route and is glad she did.

Iman hadn’t been in school for more than a decade but brushed up for TCC’s placement tests by using Khan Academy tutorials. “I knew if I wanted to improve my life, it was a matter of building up my education,” she said. “TCC was everywhere and seemed to be the best and most convenient option.”

In contrast to the business associate, the Associate of Applied Science in Accounting allows you to choose from a plethora of accounting classes ranging from auditing to business statistics to cost accounting. A new class, Advanced Studies in Payroll (ACC 293) will be introduced in fall 2017.

two smiling women looking at paperwork
Laura Harden and Kendall Painter

Students who take that class and Principles of Federal Taxation (Accounting 261) are prepared to sit for the Fundamental Payroll Certificate Exam.

Accounting 261 has a participation component that allows students who take the class at night during the spring semester to assist the public on their income taxes.

Under the direction of Bird, students who pass a certified exam prepare tax returns for the public. The IRS-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program offers free assistance on the Virginia Beach Campus to individuals meeting certain income requirements.

“It’s a great way for students to apply what they’ve learned,” Bird said.

The 67-credit associate is an excellent option for students who want to bring accounting skills to a business as a bookkeeper or auditing clerk or for those interested in working at a tax preparation company.

While tax companies such as H&R Block require new employees to complete in-house training, a candidate who has earned a certificate or associate in accounting at TCC has a leg up in the hiring process.

TCC’s 26-credit Career Studies Certificate in Accounting Technician is geared for those who already have a bachelor’s and want to become more proficient in accounting.

The 34-credit Certificate in Accounting Specialist includes general education requirements in addition to accounting classes. Graduates with either certificate are also prepared to sit for ACAT exams and can gain entry-level employment in the field.

All classes from either certificate can be applied to TCC’s accounting associate.

TCC’s accounting technician certificate is also a wonderful option for those who have graduated with a bachelor’s in any discipline and want to sit for the state’s CPA exam. The Virginia Board of Accountancy requires applicants have a minimum of 24 semester hours in upper-level accounting courses prior to sitting for the exam.

“Some choose to go on and get those hours with a master’s degree, but you can get them at TCC,” Bird said.

Students interested in this option should work closely with an accounting professor for scheduling.

Whatever choice you make, small class size is a bonus. It’s not unusual for visiting students to take Accounting I and II at TCC given the instructor-to-student ratio at the college.

“Here you’re in a classroom capped at 24 with a computer on your desk as opposed to being in an auditorium with 100 others,” Bird said.

The accounting certificates and associate can be earned 100 percent online as can TCC’s business associate. All classes are offered in the evening as well to accommodate working students.

For information on the program, email Bird at cbird@tcc.edu or Conner at wconner@tcc.edu.