If you enjoy working with numbers and are looking for a college major, you may be debating the merits of Accounting vs. Computer Science degrees.
Both are logical choices if you have a mathematical mind, and there are certainly merits to both. The difficulty is determining which is best for you.
Computer Science vs. Accounting Degree Programs
There are several courses that both Computer Science and Accounting majors would be required to take. These include many of the general education classes taken in the first several semesters of college.
In fact, even after the general education classes are completed, the two majors still have courses in common. This is why some students consider pairing these degrees as majors and minors.
But first let’s take a look at what makes each of these degrees unique:
After comparing the courses required for each degree, you can also explore the areas common to both degree programs.
Some of the most commonly required accounting classes include:
- Numerous Accounting classes
- Business Law Classes
- Numerous finance-related classes
- Micro- and Macro-Economics
- Various liberal arts classes
These are only a few of the potential Accounting classes you might be required to take as part of an accounting degree program.
What can you do with an accounting degree? The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the average salary for accountants and auditors is $70,500.
Here are some other jobs for people with Accounting degrees:
- Actuaries – $102,880
- Personal Financial Advisors – $88,890
- Financial Examiners – $80,180
- Forensic Accountants – $70,500
- Cost Estimators – $64,040
You’ll notice all these pay more than the national average.
Some of the most commonly required Computer Science classes include:
- Numerous computer programming classes
- Programming Paradigms/Algorithms
- Various programming language classes
- Systems Analysis
There are many more courses you’d need to take before earning your computer science degree, but these give you an idea of what you’d be taking in each field.
There’s a wide range of available jobs in Computer Science-related fields. Here are five of the highest paying jobs for people with bachelor’s degrees as indicated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Computer Network Architects – $109,020
- Software Developers – $105,590
- Information Security Analysts – $98,350
- Database Administrators – $90,070
- Computer Systems Analysts – $88,740
Again, each of these pays well over the national average.
Classes Both Majors Have in Common
Some of the courses both majors might be required to take include:
- General Education courses
- Logic, Critical Thinking, and Probability classes
- Data Structures courses
- Various math classes, up to and including Calculus
- Business Statistics
- Various numerical computational classes
However, at the higher level of courses, including bachelor’s courses and especially master’s and doctoral courses, the required classes for the two majors begin to branch in different directions.
Accounting vs. Computer Science – What Fits My Personality Best?
Both professions require someone number-centric with superior analytical skills and the ability to pay close attention to minuscule details.
Both accountants and computer scientists must be meticulously methodical in their work. Internal computational and excellent computer skills also benefit both careers.
The Accounting field, though, often appeals to independent people who enjoy working alone. It also attracts those whose interests lie in finance.
Accountants spend much of their work time poring over invoices, bank statements, and other financial documents. They work on people’s taxes and are often required to perform audits.
Although computer scientists also must be computer- and number-savvy, they focus more on writing code and programming computers.
They develop formulas, functions, software, and more. Because there are many components to developing new programs, they often work in teams rather than alone, so if you’re sociable, Computer Science might be perfect for you.
Working so closely with the public, sometimes in awkward or uncomfortable situations, means accountants must have excellent communication and people skills. Empathy’s also a plus when forced to give clients bad news.
Computer scientists, on the other hand, are more behind-the-scenes. They don’t interact with customers often, so they aren’t required to develop the same set of interpersonal, customer-service skills needed by accountants.
Is Accounting an Easy Major?
If you’ve decided to major in Accounting, you probably have a passion and/or talent for numbers. In that case, Accounting shouldn’t give you too much difficulty.
However, these classes are preparing you to take and successfully pass the CPA exam, which certifies you as a licensed accountant, so some will likely be challenging.
Like any other major, Accounting should present you with some easy, no-trouble-at-all classes and some difficult, ratchet-up-your-stress-level classes. Try to adjust your schedule to give you the most time to work on the hardest courses. Remember, nothing worth earning is ever earned easily.
Is Computer Science an Easy Major?
Just as with Accounting, Computer Science will present you with a myriad of different courses. Some will be easy and present you with little to no challenge, and others will be much more difficult and require you to study hard.
Ideally, all college degree paths should work this same way.
College is meant to challenge you in order to prepare you for your chosen career, but if you’re determined to earn your Computer Science degree and willing to work hard for it, we have faith you’ll make it, even through the demanding courses.
Is Accounting Easier than Computer Science?
Which major is easier will depend entirely on you, your skills, your knowledge of the subject matter, and many other factors, all centering around you.
Your personality and interests will also determine which classes are easiest for you. For instance, if you love numbers and computation, an algebra class will probably be no problem. If you hate reading and writing though, you may struggle in English.
However, according to many published statistics, like the one published by the University of Nevada, the average GPA of Accounting majors (3.18) seems to be just a bit higher than that of Computer Science majors (3.14).
Similar studies have been published at other schools with similar results, so perhaps Accounting could be a tiny bit easier than Computer Science.
Computer Science vs. Accounting Jobs
The great thing about both these degrees is that there’s a pretty large market for available jobs in each. Being an accountant is a relatively steady career choice, and the job market for people with Computer Science degrees is booming right now.
Jobs for People with Accounting Degrees
In addition to becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) for individuals or a private accountant for businesses, there are other potential jobs out there for someone with an Accounting degree. Five of the most popular are:
- Cost Estimator
- Forensic Accountant
- Financial Analyst
A Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting could significantly improve your chances of getting any of these jobs. Actuaries, especially, are in very high demand right now. Cost estimators, too, are often sought after with all the new businesses popping up everywhere.
Jobs for People with Computer Science Degrees
There’s never been a better time for people with Computer Science degrees to find employment than right now. This is the technological and digital age, and computer-related jobs are all the rage. Five of the most popular Computer Science-related jobs are:
- Software Developer
- Database Analyst
- Information Security Analyst/Cyber Security Specialist
- Web Developer
- Computer Hardware Engineer
These are only five of the vast number of Computer Science-related jobs that have been dominating the job market lately. While having a degree in Computer Science isn’t required for some of these jobs, having one could help your chances of getting one.
Oftentimes, people with degrees in Computer Science also get paid more than people with no formal education working in these jobs.
Can I Become an Accountant with a Computer Science Degree?
Yes, you can become an accountant with a Computer Science degree, but with limitations. Becoming a CPA, for example, requires passing the CPA exam, but it isn’t open to anyone who wants to take it.
Different states across the U.S. have different rules and regulations concerning what exactly qualifies you to take the CPA exam, but most agree that you must have a bachelor’s degree in either business or Accounting and have met specific coursework benchmarks.
For a list of requirements specific for your state, contact your state board using the directory on the Accounting Institute for Success website.
If your degree is in Computer Science, it’s unlikely you’ve had all the right requirements that would allow you to take the CPA exam. However, if you double majored in both subjects or if you majored in Computer Science but minored in Accounting, then it’s possible you could become a CPA.
You may have to jump through a few extra hoops first though.
Accounting vs. Computer Science Salary
Another great thing about both these fields is that when it comes to pay, they both rank above the average national yearly salary. This means jobs in these fields generally pay quite well.
According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website, the median pay for accountants and auditors was $70,500 a year. That beats the average salary of the average American worker, which is $51,960 a year by nearly $20,000!
People with Computer Science degrees can hold a wide range of jobs, but the average yearly salary for these jobs runs anywhere from $53,470 at the low-end, which still beats the national average, and $109,020 at the high-end, which more than doubles the average.
Below, you’ll find some of the highest paying jobs for each degree.
Certifications Following an Accounting or Computer Science Degree
If you’re looking to become certified while earning your degree in Accounting, you have three primary options. These include certifications as a CPA, CMA, and CIA.
CPA: Certified Personal Accountants can be accountants, tax consultants, auditors, business advisors, and more. They work with individuals and small businesses, advising them on financial matters, estimated costs, and helping them out at tax time.
CMA: Certified Management Accountants are similar to CPAs, but they usually work on a larger scale with businesses, non-profits, corporations, and more. They’re experts in Accounting, professional ethics, decision support, analysis and control, and all other fields of financial planning.
CIA: Certified Internal Auditors work with businesses and corporations as in-house auditors.
The certifications you can receive while working towards your Computer Science degree are almost as numerous as the number of jobs available to degree holders after graduation.
This list shows some, but certainly not all, of certifications available to Computer Science professionals.
Which Should You Choose – Accounting or Computer Science?
Which degree path you should choose is entirely up to you. You must weigh your own personal interests, knowledge base, and study habits against your future career goals.
Do you want to potentially work a little harder and likely make more money with a Computer Science degree? Or would you rather do less math and still possibly make a comfortable living as an accountant?
The great thing about these two fields is they’re both excellent choices. There are numerous job opportunities available for people with both degrees, and those jobs pay well. Furthermore, if you’re great at math, you’ll more than likely do well at either one.
Whichever you choose, don’t waste another second dreaming about your future. Instead, get online and find a great program at a college near you. Start working towards building your future today instead of just dreaming about tomorrow.