The bachelor of science degree in Accounting provides the body of knowledge necessary to pursue a variety of accounting careers and professional certifications. The program prepares students for positions in industry, government, and business advisory services conducting financial planning, analysis, control, and decision support.
Students can obtain the following designations:
Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
Management accountants provide forecasts, compute costs and benefits, perform variance analysis, and review and monitor performance. Managerial accountants also design systems that provide information to decision-makers. Students may also wish to pursue positions in industry and government as internal auditors.
Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
Internal auditors are employed by the organization they audit. Internal auditing is a systematic approach to evaluating and improving the effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance processes. Internal auditors also review compliance with standards and assess the organization's risks.
Certified Public Accountants (CPA)
Public accounting is carried on by independent practitioners, most of whom are CPAs. In addition to statutory audits, CPAs render other assurance, tax, and management advisory services. To be licensed as a CPA in nearly every state, including Pennsylvania, individuals must complete 150 credit hours of education (including 36 credits of accounting and related areas), pass a demanding professional examination, and meet certain experience requirements.
The education requirements for licensure can be met in a variety of ways, such as completing the B.S. in Accounting and then enrolling in the Masters of Accounting (MAcc) program at Penn State University Park or a similar program. It may also be completed by selecting additional credits at Penn State Altoona. Many students complete most of the additional credits by completing the Information Systems Auditing Certificate or a minor such as the minor in economics or the minor in entrepreneurship. Graduating from the MAcc program guarantees that students complete the correct combination of credits in accounting and auditing to qualify to become Certified Public Accountants.
Students pursuing other paths must exercise care to assure that, in addition to 150 credits, they complete appropriate amounts of accounting and auditing.
Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
The Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) is a credential awarded by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). CFE training involves imparting knowledge of complex financial transactions and understanding of forensic methods, law, and of how to resolve allegations of fraud. Fraud examiners are trained to understand how and why fraud occurs.
In addition to passing the CFE exam, Certified fraud examiners are required to do the following:
- Get a bachelor's degree in accounting and have no less than two years of work experience in a field related to fraud, such as auditing, loss prevention, law, or accounting. Requirements vary between state and federal governments.
- Be of high moral character
- Abide by the bylaws and code of professional ethics of the ACFE.
CFEs have a wide range of career options. A CFE can move into an executive position, such as a special agent, an inspector general, a chief compliance officer, a chief risk officer, or a chief audit executive. A CFE can specialize as an internal auditor, a government accountant, a local investigator, an external auditor, a state investigator, or law enforcement.