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Accounting: A career that adds up to success for Dallas County Community College District students
By Dallas County Community College District
Aug 15, 2018
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Dallas – Wendy Love wants to rebrand herself in her chosen field: accounting. To do that, she has enrolled at Cedar Valley College, where she hopes to earn a college credential that will increase her chances of finding full-time employment.

“I’m taking extra classes to expand my knowledge,” said Love, who has a degree from Dallas Baptist University and who knows that her field requires additional skills beyond the ones she mastered while working as an accountant for a local chemical company. 

“People often misunderstand accounting,” said Love. “Accounting is not difficult, but it is time-consuming.” Currently, she handles accounts payable for her church in Lancaster, a job she took after her previous employer outsourced its accounting office to an overseas firm. 

Love has adored mathematics since her grade-school days in Mississippi, but she is quick to caution about another accounting misconception.  

“This (career) is not about math. It’s more strategy and problem-solving. It’s not one plus one equals two,” said Love, who also is interested in coding – a career that would make her more savvy. “It would make me more marketable,” she added. "Employers always are looking for workers who have mastered accounting and possess other business skills."  

“Right now, a majority of our students are working students," said Dr. Suryakant Desai, faculty member and coordinator of Cedar Valley’s accounting program.  

Desai, an award-winning teacher, is helping Love market her credentials. The good news is that employers are always in the market for people who have business skills and who can contribute to the fiscal health of their organizations, he added.

“Most of our students are working and taking classes that enhance their skills and give them a chance to take advantage of a promotion,” Desai said.  

Cedar Valley College accounting student Wendy Love and faculty member Dr. Suryakant Desai discuss coursework during class.

It all adds up 

Matusalen Romero, an accounting student at both North Lake and Richland colleges, hopes to be among those who advance professionally. A former restaurant manager, he wants to transfer to a four-year college once he completes his associate degree. Before enrolling, he had the same misconceptions others have about accounting – that the work is too hard and too time-consuming. 

“I hope to become a CPA,” said Romero, who began pursuing accounting after a member of his church urged him to consider it. “At first, I didn’t know what accounting was. I was thinking about becoming an aircraft mechanic. But once I started looking at accounting, I realized there are a lot of job opportunities. It’s not just doing taxes. You can work at a bank or for a company.” 

Accounting, he said, appeals to his sense of order and the type of respect the profession receives. “I like to have things in the right place. When people hear that you’re an accountant, they know there’s a lot of responsibility in what you do. I like that,” said Romero. 

Accountants are quick learners, strategic thinkers  

Successful accountants possess analytical, organizational and communications skills. They also are detail-oriented. They prepare and examine records; they also make sure that taxes are paid on time.  

Many accountants work in offices, but some work from home. They often are hired for tax preparation, bookkeeping, payroll services and other business principles, said Stephanie Swaim, lead faculty and co-coordinator of North Lake College’s accounting program.  A 40-hour workweek could extend into overtime during tax season, too. 

All seven colleges in the Dallas County Community College District offer degrees or certificates in accounting. Students in that field can pursue a number of career areas. Accounting not only focuses on taxes; it also includes payroll, accounts payable and receivable, bookkeeping and auditing among many options. 

Accounting coursework is not difficult, but it is time-consuming, Desai said. He tells students they must be realistic because of the heavy workload. 

“It requires more time than normal classes. You have to study every day and practice every day,” he added. “It’s not a reading class. It is very cumulative. You cannot get behind. You have to have the maturity and discipline to be able to follow a regimen and do things on a regular basis.” 

Aspiring students sometimes confuse accounting with mathematics, a notion not easily dispelled, Desai said. “The only math we use is arithmetic, adding and subtracting. Accounting is very logical. Those who get it enjoy seeing pieces coming together.” 

Accounting offers options, good salaries 

DCCCD offers a variety of options for credentials in accounting:

·         Accounting Clerk Certificate

·         Accounting Assistant Certificate

·         Accounting Associate of Applied Science degree

·         Advanced Technical Certificate (offered only at Mountain View College)

·         Continuing Education Skills Award (offered only at North Lake College)

A student who completes the first semester earns a certificate as an accountant clerk, said Swaim. An accounting assistant certificate is awarded to students who complete the second semester. Both certificates comprise the first two semesters for the associate in applied sciences degree in accounting. 

“We are layering our credentials. It’s so important that we help students hit milestones as they go,” Swaim said. “These milestones are important. Whatever you complete, you can put on your resume.  

“We get students from all backgrounds and all walks of life. We have fresh-out-of-high- school graduates and individuals who went right to work and have an opportunity to come back to school,” Swaim added. “Some of our students have pursued other careers and want to start something new.” 

Successful students are those who come to class ready to learn, meet deadlines and display a strong work ethic, said Swaim. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay is $69,350 per year or $33.34 per hour. The job outlook for accounting is promising, and it is expected to grow about 10 percent through 2026 – faster than many other fields. 

For more information about the accounting program at North Lake College, contact Stephanie Swaim by email at sswaim@dccccd.edu; at Cedar Valley, send an email to Dr. Suryakant Desai at sdesai@dcccd.edu; or visit dcccd.edu/Accounting.