Thousands of Canadians are learning accounting every day, and it’s not hard to see why. Accounting remains one of the most in-demand, challenging, and financially rewarding careers. Accountants play essential roles in companies and organizations, keeping financial information organized and supporting leaders in making fiscally responsible decisions. Personal accountants similarly enjoy supporting households and helping them to manage their finances responsibly.

Becoming an accountant, however, is no walk in the park. You need strong math skills, a penchant for problem solving, and a knack for communicating data. Technical knowledge of different accounting software is also essential, as is understanding the business or industry you want to work in. Thankfully, there are plenty of schools across Canada that will ensure you are well equipped to handle the work of an accountant.

So how do you get started in accounting? What kind of education do you need to work in the field, become a certified accountant, or a business leader? Where can you find the best accounting programs?

If any of these questions have crossed your mind, you are reading the right article. Let’s get started by discussing what kind of background you need to get into an accounting program.

What skills are valued in an accountant? A good work ethic, strong mathematical skills, and organization are just a few!

bachelor of accounting
Accountants are among the most well paid and well respected professionals. Source-Unsplash.
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How do I Prepare for Postsecondary Accounting Programs?

Believe it or not, you have already started preparing for accounting since you were a child and developing financial literacy. It doesn’t take long to figure out that money is important and essential to getting the things you wanted, whether it was a toy, a video game or a new outfit. Even as kids, we quickly develop an awareness that we need to accumulate money or ‘save up’, and do extra chores or take a part time job to achieve simple financial goals. Our parents may tell us things like ‘it’s too expensive’, and we get a sense of what is affordable for our families. If you are lucky enough to spend time in a family business, you have probably developed a fairly significant skill set from simply listening to your parents or helping out with their work.

Obviously, becoming an accountant will take much more hard work and study - but it’s important to remember that we start learning with plenty of prior knowledge that will set us up for success.

Getting started in accounting takes some planning, and much preparation at the secondary school level. The first thing to do is determine what type of program you want to take after high school. Are you looking to get a university degree? Do you want to become a chartered or certified accountant? Do you see yourself attending community college and working in a role such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, or bookkeeping?

Whatever pathway you see yourself following, you will likely need to have a math course in your transcript. Those who are looking to get a university degree in accounting or a related field like commerce or mathematics should ensure they have a strong grade in academic stream, senior level math. In academic or university track courses, you will learn math at a more complex and abstract level so you can be prepared for the rigours of university. You will also likely need academic courses in other subjects like English and Business.

University bound students should keep in mind that acceptance into programs can be competitive, so you will want to have a strong transcript and be well-rounded as a student. If you are a mature student and have already left high school, you may want to look into getting academic upgrading credits at the university you plan to apply to, or re-take secondary credits at your local school board.

Should you see yourself pursuing accounting and business programs at the college level, you will also need a strong transcript but your courses may not need to be in the academic stream. You may also be able to simply enroll in the program or courses you want, depending on the program. For example, many continuing education programs will enable you to sign up for the course you want and request a certificate once you have satisfied the program expectations.

Irrespective of your situation, you will learn a lot by consulting with your school’s guidance counselor and the admissions department of the schools you would like to apply to. Every school will be different, offering different programs and recommendations for applicants. It is highly recommended that you take the time to research multiple schools so you have a full perspective on which programs will be best aligned with your ambitions and academic background.

Is accounting the right career pathway for you to pursue? You may be surprised to learn what it takes to be an accountant!

accounting basics
Speak to your school's guidance counselor. Source: Unsplash.

Where Can I Learn Accounting Basics?

You can start learning the basics of accounting at any point in your life, though most people who are interested get started in high school. Many high schools in Canada offer accounting and business programs that are intended to introduce students to basic accounting terms and processes. Some of the terminology you can expect to learn includes:

  • Accounts Receivable
  • Accounts Payable
  • Assets
  • Balance Sheets
  • Capital
  • Cash Flow
  • Credit
  • Debit
  • Diversification
  • Expenses
  • Equity
  • Insolvency
  • Ledger
  • Net Income
  • Return On Investment

If you have already graduated high school and want some accounting basics so you can get a job in a business or for your own entrepreneurial endeavours, you can learn accounting essentials at any local community college. While these courses will not get you the same level of certification that a university degree will, they are a perfect way to learn the basics of bookkeeping.

Another option you could take is to learn accounting from an online course. You can find plenty of free or low cost accounting classes: check out massive open online courses offered by major colleges and universities, or simply do a search and find self-paced modules you can do on your own time.

Are you in high school and trying to figure out which career to pursue? Accounting should be on your list!

Which Schools offer Bachelor of Accounting or Commerce Programs?

Most universities across Canada have business schools or programs where you can apply for a degree that will enable you to become a chartered professional accountant or CPA. The CPA is recognized around the world and is known as the top standard of accounting certification. With a CPA, you will have access to a higher tier of accounting jobs and be well equipped to become a business or financial leader should you choose to do so.

To become an accountant, you will need to complete the chartered professional accountant certification program after you graduate with a relevant business degree, such as a Bachelor of Commerce. The following universities offer Bachelor of Commerce programs:

  • University of Toronto
  • University of Western Ontario
  • University of Manitoba
  • Dalhousie
  • McGill
  • University of Alberta
  • University of British Columbia

After graduating from a relevant business or accounting program, you can apply for a Chartered Accountant Professional Education Program through the CPA (Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada). You’ll have to gain some practical experience even after taking the course, and write an exam that will enable you to achieve the illustrious certification.

Accounting is one of the best careers you can pursue: it pays well, offers stability, and is one of the most well-respected professions. Learn all about accounting careers in Canada.

chartered accountant
You will need to get practical experience prior to getting accounting certification. Source: Unsplash.

It’s important to keep in mind that you don’t have to be a CPA to work in accounting - in fact, many people work in accounting with college diplomas and degrees unrelated to business. The most important thing is to identify your own career goals, and take the programs and jobs that will enable you to reach your objectives.

How much money can you make as an accountant in Canada? Accountants are high earning professionals whose skills are always in demand.

Where can I Enhance my Accounting and Auditing Skills?

If you are looking to brush up on your accounting and auditing skills for a course or for work you will want to consider hiring a private tutor. Accounting tutors are a great, cost-effective and high-impact way to brush up on your mathematics or accounting knowledge. A tutor can focus on the concepts and skills you need the most help on, or help you study the basics to prepare for a big test or exam. Accounting tutors are often students of accounting or accountants themselves, so they will be well-equipped to support you in your studies.

Finding an accounting tutor is easy thanks to Superprof Canada. On the Superprof site, you can easily and quickly search accounting tutors near you or in Canada that can help you virtually or safely in person. All you have to do is type in a description of the help you need, such as “accounting basics” or “certified accounting” in the search window and you will see profiles of prospective tutors.

Once you take some time to browse tutors, you can contact them safely over the site to check their rate and see if they will be a good match for you. Many tutors will offer the first hour free so they can take some time to get to know you and identify your greatest areas of need. Another great feature of the site is that you can pay your tutor safely using a credit card or Paypal.

Enhance your accounting skills by checking out Superprof today!

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Colleen

Colleen is a Toronto-based educator, mom and freelance writer who believes in lifelong learning and strong coffee.