Accounting vs. Computer Science [2021 Guide]

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.

Accounting vs. Computer Science

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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

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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.

Accounting

accountant working on her computer

Some of the most commonly required accounting classes include:

  • Numerous Accounting classes
  • Business Law classes
  • Numerous finance-related classes
  • Micro- and Macro-Economics
  • Communications
  • 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.

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What can you do with an accounting degree? The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the average salary for accountants and auditors is $73,560.

Here are some related career paths that graduates with Accounting degrees may pursue:

Careers Annual Median Salary
Actuaries $111,030
Personal Financial Advisors $89,330
Financial Examiners $81,430
Forensic Accountants $71,550
Cost Estimators $66,610

The median wage for these careers is more than the national average.

Computer Science

web developers working together on a project

Some of the most commonly required Computer Science classes include:

  • Numerous computer programming classes
  • Programming Paradigms/Algorithms
  • Various programming language classes
  • Systems Analysis
  • Networking
  • Cybersecurity

There are many more courses you’d take when pursuing a computer science degree, but these give you an idea of what kind of topics you’d be studying in each field.

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What makes computer science a good major is that there are a wide range of job opportunities in the Computer Science-related field. In addition, a post baccalaureate computer science online degree can pair well with a variety of other bachelor degrees in case you’ve already earned one.

Here are five of the highest paying jobs for computer science professionals with bachelor’s degrees, as indicated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Careers Annual Median Salary
Computer and Information Systems Managers $151,150
Computer Network Architects $116,780
Software Developers $110,140
Information Security Analysts $103,590
Database Administrators $98,860

Again, the median wage for each of these positions is well over the national average.

Classes Both Majors Have in Common

college students working together in library

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

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?

accountants working on financial reports

Both professions are suitable for someone who’s number-centric with superior analytical skills and the ability to pay close attention to minuscule details.

Both accountants and computer scientists are 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 may spend much of their work time poring over invoices, bank statements, and other financial documents. They may work on people’s taxes and are often required to perform audits.

computer programmer working in the office

Although computer scientists are also computer- and number-savvy, they focus more on writing code and programming computers.

They may 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, you might enjoy the teamwork aspect of Computer Science.

Working so closely with the public, sometimes in awkward or uncomfortable situations, means accountants can benefit from having 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?

accountant working on her laptop

If you’ve decided to major in Accounting, you may have a passion or talent for numbers. If that’s the case, Accounting may not give you too much difficulty.

A number of your classes, though, may be preparing you to take and successfully pass the CPA exam, which certifies you as a licensed accountant. These advanced courses are likely to be more challenging.

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Like any other major, Accounting will likely present you with some easy, no-trouble-at-all classes and some difficult, ratchet-up-your-stress-level classes. You can try to adjust your schedule to give yourself the most time to work on the hardest courses. Remember, nothing worth earning is ever earned easily.

Is Computer Science an Easy Major?

web developers working together in an office

Just as with Accounting, Computer Science will present you with a myriad of different courses. Some may be easy and present you with little to no challenge, and others may be much more difficult and require you to study hard.

In general, all college degree paths work this same way.

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College is meant to challenge you in order to prepare you for your chosen career. If you’re determined to earn your Computer Science degree and willing to work hard for it, it may be easier for you to persevere through the demanding courses.

Is Accounting Easier than Computer Science?

accountant working in his office

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 can also determine which classes are easiest for you. For instance, if you love numbers and computation, an algebra class may not seem difficult. If you hate reading and writing, though, you may not enjoy an English course.

According to many published statistics, though, 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 some students would consider Accounting to be a tiny bit easier than Computer Science.

Computer Science vs. Accounting Jobs

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

accountant working in her office

In addition to becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) for individuals or a private accountant for businesses, there are other potential career paths out there for someone with an Accounting degree. Five of the most popular are:

  • Auditor
  • Actuary
  • Cost Estimator
  • Forensic Accountant
  • Financial Analyst

A bachelor’s degree in Accounting could help you qualify for a number of opportunities in the field. Actuaries are especially 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

software developers working together on a project

Professionals with Computer Science degrees may be needed now more than ever. 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 increase your competitive edge in the job market.

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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?

accountants working together on financial reports

Yes, there are accountants who have a Computer Science degree, but there can be 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. Most agree, though, that applicants 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, you can contact your state board using the directory on the Accounting Institute for Success website.

If your degree is in Computer Science, you may not currently have all the requirements that would allow you to take the CPA exam. If you double majored in both subjects, though, or if you majored in Computer Science but minored in Accounting, then it’s possible you could qualify to take the CPA exam.

You may have to jump through a few extra hoops first, though.

Accounting vs. Computer Science Salary

financial manager talking to a client

Another benefit 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, the median pay for accountants and auditors is $73,560 a year. That beats the median salary of the average American worker, which is $41,950 a year, by nearly $30,000!

People with Computer Science degrees may hold a wide range of jobs, but the median yearly salary for these jobs runs anywhere from $55,510 at the low-end, which still beats the national average, and $151,150 at the high-end, which more than doubles the average.

Certifications Following an Accounting or Computer Science Degree

professional receiving a certificate

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 may be accountants, tax consultants, auditors, business advisors, and more. They can 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 may receive while working towards your Computer Science degree are almost as numerous as the number of jobs available to degree holders after graduation.

  • Citrix
  • PMP
  • CCNP
  • CEH
  • CISA
  • CISSP
  • AWS

This list shows some, but certainly not all, of the certifications available to Computer Science professionals.

Accounting or Computer Science

Which Should You Choose – Accounting or Computer Science?

Which degree path you should choose is entirely up to you. It can help to weigh your own personal interests, knowledge base, and study habits against your future career goals.

Do you want to maybe work a little harder and potentially 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?

Both of these fields are lucrative, growing, and rewarding. There are numerous job opportunities available in both fields, and those jobs often pay above average salaries.

Whichever you choose, you don’t have to waste another second dreaming about your future. Instead, you can get online and find a credible program at an accredited college near you. You can start working towards building your future today instead of just dreaming about tomorrow.

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Joy Cromwelle
WRITTEN BY
Joy Cromwelle
Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration. Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.