Is Accounting Hard? How Hard Is An Accounting Major?

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  • Post last modified:July 11, 2021

Accounting is one of the most popular majors. If you want to major in accounting, you likely are wondering how hard it will be. Is accounting hard?

Accounting is hard. It is the language of business and will take at least a few years to become fluent. An accounting major is easier than chemistry, mechanical engineering, computer science, and other science-based bachelor’s degrees. However, accounting is considered the most difficult business major when it comes to business courses.

Once you become fluent in accounting, you will have the skills required to analyze a business and its financial performance. This will make it easy to find a job as all businesses can use a good accountant.

Read on to learn if taking up accounting in college is hard or not, what it requires, why it could be hard, and tips on majoring in accounting.

Is Accounting Hard?

is accounting hard

Is accounting a hard major? It is easier to compare accounting with science-based college courses such as mechanical and electrical engineering, computer science engineering, and chemistry. However, among business courses, accounting is the hardest.

In that sense, accounting is hard. It is the language of business that takes many years to master and become fluent. While studying it, you will be forced to spend most of your time at the library instead of spending time with your buddies.

Accounting does not involve hard-core math. It only requires basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Sometimes you may need to use some entry-level algebra to solve certain problems. Certainly, you won’t be required to understand calculus to pass this college course.

Accounting is a rigorous business major. Some even consider it to be the hardest major in business school. If you want to major in accounting, you will need to take financial, auditing, business law, governmental, managerial, and tax accounting courses.

How Hard Is Accounting? [It Requires Hard Work]

The common perception about accounting is that it is extremely challenging. How hard is accounting? In terms of difficulty, it will depend on whether you can acquire the proper skills and how you apply them in the area that suits your personality and interests.

Some aspects of accounting can be complicated. Ultimately, you really need to give some effort to study it, just like you would do with other college courses. If you consider the advantages of being an accountant and its perks, you will be inspired to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed.

You must be willing to work hard to take advantage of the great opportunities in this lucrative field. Studying accounting is very demanding, just like any other college course with lucrative potentials. The reward is great if you will put your hand to the task.   

Why Is Accounting Hard?

There is no question about it. Accounting is really a hard major. You must have the will and talent if you decide to take it up in college. Why is this course hard? If you know the reasons why accounting is hard, you will be able to anticipate the hardships that you will be facing:

1. Rigorous Topics and Intensity of the Courses

Accounting courses consist of intensive courses in economics, business, mathematics, and accounting. In your first year alone, you will be required to pass courses in business statistics, algebra, and elementary calculus.

If you don’t have any background in these subjects, you will be like a duck out of the water. So, if you want to be a successful accounting major, you should browse these subjects for at least one year before enrolling in the course.

2. Lack of Analytical Skills

If you don’t have analytical skills, you will find accounting courses hard to pass. One way to know if you have this skill is to ask your parents, siblings, and close friends. Their close contact with you will help them give you their honest opinion. This skill can be developed, but it would be better if you already have some morsels of it in the first place.

3. Thick Accounting Books

Thick books are very intimidating to learning students. This is especially true with accounting books. If you know that that thick accounting book is full of numbers, statistics to analyze, and problems to solve, would you be inspired even to take a look at it? But if you are really bent on becoming an accountant, you will steel yourself to love those books.

4. It’s Not Your Type

You must love numbers to be able to succeed in accounting. If you only took accounting as your college major because of your parents or friends, passing the classes and exams will be difficult. You must be interested in accounting to succeed in it. It is the same with any college course that you may want to take up.

5. Lack of Time Management

Taking up accounting as your major is not a joke. You should be willing to devote most of your time to study the courses you need to pass. There are too many subjects in economics, statistics, and so forth that you need to learn.

If you don’t commit yourself, the accounting will really be difficult. That is why you should not take this major if you are not really interested in it and you don’t have the required natural abilities. If your talents and inherent abilities are suited to accounting, you won’t have to beat yourself up to study the subjects.

6. Lack of Mentoring

When things get difficult, they will need to have somebody you can lean on. A lot of students, no matter their course, would be helped a lot if they only have mentors helping them when hard times fall. So, if you can enlist the help of a mentor, your chances of being an accounting graduate will increase.

Hardest Accounting Courses

is accounting a hard major

Part of your preparation is to know the accounting courses that are the most difficult to learn and to pass. You need to anticipate the difficulties that you will encounter in these courses so that you won’t be surprised. What are these hard accounting courses?

1. Financial Accounting and Reporting II

This course is the continuation of Financial Accounting and Reporting I. The preceding course is primarily focused on assets. This course concentrates more on shareholder’s equity and liabilities.

2. Advanced Financial Accounting and Reporting II

This course is the most dreaded by accounting students. It precedes Advanced Financial Accounting and Reporting I. The topics included in this course are all difficult because of the always-changing amendments in the standards of the subjects included in this course. This course also involves the solving of long and outrageous problems.

3. Applied Auditing

This course will prove if the students have learned the topics discussed in Financial Accounting and Reporting parts I and II courses. It is the application of what they learned to solve auditing problems. In solving such problems, the students must apply audit principles, techniques, standards, and procedures to evaluate a business’s financial statements.

4. Cost Accounting and Cost Management

In this course, the accounting student will learn the cost accounting and cost management structure of a business. This subject is primarily related to management accounting. However, it involves a more in-depth discussion of the various costs of a commercial enterprise.

Most students will be confused with the subject matter because of the many accounting methods used for various business costs.

5. Managerial Accounting II

This subject is part 2 of Management Accounting I. The student will learn how to apply concepts and methods that focus on profitability analysis, decentralization, and segment reporting. It will also teach the student about non-financial indicators like per service unit or productivity per worker.

Other topics that are included in this course are:

  • Use of information for decision-making (short-term and long-term)
  • Decision making that affects short-run operations of a business

Again, is accounting hard? Is accounting a hard major? Accounting is hard. It is the language of business and will take at least a few years to become fluent. Accounting is easier than many other subjects, but accounting is one of the hardest business courses.

Once you learn the basics of accounting and become fluent in it, you will have the skills required to analyze a business and its financial performance. This will make it easy to find a job as all businesses can use a good accountant.

Things to Consider When Taking Up Accounting

how hard is accounting

Before taking up a college or university accounting course, you should first look at what’s in store for you if you can pass the CPA board exams. Here are some of the things that you need to consider:

1. Accounting Is a Mundane Job

An accountant is critical in running a successful business. However, accounting itself can be mundane. There would be times when you will be spending one whole day inputting invoices. A month will just quickly pass by when it’s time for you to prepare the financial statements of your client or your company.

Hopefully, as you progress in your career, you may hold accounting positions that will be more exciting. But you will always be faced with mundane tasks in nature, whatever your accounting position is.

2. Accounting Is Hard

Considering that accounting is the language of business, just completing a four-year accounting major and passing the CPA board exams are not enough to master the jargon. For some, it will take a lifetime.

When you are already employed in an accounting firm, you will know that the tax season is no joke. You will be forced to stay late at night balancing the books of your clients or your company, including equity reserves and other complicated numbers. This job is both mentally and physically challenging.

3. You Have Many Different Career Options

While the task may be mundane and difficult, your career as an accountant can take many possible routes. You have two general options: you can go public, or you can go private. Here are some of the possibilities:

As a Public Accountant

You can pursue your accounting career by providing accounting services to your clients in the areas of:

  • Tax
  • Audit
  • Advisory or consultancy (valuation/M&A/technical accounting

As A Corporate Accountant

If you choose to join a company or a business, you will be asked to perform the following tasks:

  • Financial reporting
  • Internal auditing
  • Technical accounting
  • Corporate tax
  • SEC reporting
  • Treasury
  • Forecasting
  • Transfer pricing

4. Job Security

Good times or bad times, most businesses still need accountants. Even in sharp economic declines, companies in operation still need to be audited, and their financial statements and their taxes still need to be prepared. On average, accountants enjoy job security more than other professions.

Tips on Learning Accounting

Your success in college depends a lot on you. Outside help can only go so far. You have to do all the donkey work. Generally, to succeed in any college course, you should follow three rules:

  1. Be present in all your classes
  2. Participate in your classes as much as possible
  3. Always pay attention to what is being taught in the class.

In addition to these three rules, here are some tips that will help you get your degree in accountancy:

  1. Watch out for patterns in equations. You can devise your own calculation methods, such as a list of steps that can help you solve assigned problems.
  2.  Always review the meaning of accounting terms and their differences. They are used in identifying complicated problems that are unique in this profession.
  3. In class, you will be staring at a lot of numbers on the board or your computer. Keep in mind that it is not the numbers that really matter. It is how they are applied. You need to make sense of these numbers and realize that they play a critical role in running a business smoothly.
  4. Be conscious of the style of learning that enables you to learn more. Do you have to see how it’s being done, or just plain listening is enough for you to learn? Whatever method can help you remember a concept better and faster, use that method.
  5. Understand the concept instead of just trying to get the right answer. Don’t try to memorize solutions. You need to have the concepts solidly etched on your mind to choose the right method to get the right answer.
  6. Spend more time to improve your weak points instead of pampering yourself with your strengths.

Conclusion: Is Financial Accounting Hard?

Accounting does not require hard-core math. You will only need to do basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. There could be instances where you have to use entry-level algebra. But in accounting, you don’t really need to understand calculus.

Compared to science-based bachelor’s degrees such as mechanical engineering, chemistry, and computer sciences, accounting is easier. However, among college business courses, many people consider accounting as the most difficult business major.