One of the most important features of online accounting courses is the use of accounting software. Whether you wind up working for a large or small company or decide to open your own business, understanding financial software packages helps to prepare you for a financial career. Additionally, the technological knowledge gained by using accounting software in online accounting courses often translates from one accounting job to another. Two popular software packages you can expect to use in both an online accounting program and in the working world are QuickBooks and Sage 50.
Produced by Intuit, QuickBooks
is the best-selling accounting software on the market that caters to small businesses. Known for being extremely user-friendly, QuickBooks is easy to navigate, even for those with only a basic understanding of business or accounting. To prepare students for the real world of small business accounting, many online classes require assignments to be completed in QuickBooks.
If you have worked in a small or mid-sized company, you may have used Peachtree software. As of 2013, Peachtree has been renamed Sage 50
, but it is still one of the most popular accounting software packages available, especially for companies concerned with inventory management. Online accounting degree programs use Sage 50 to assist with professional development. Knowledge of this software is also a great resume builder. Online tutorials are available to introduce you to the capabilities of the Sage 50 product.
Turbo Tax is another Intuit product which is popular with consumers and small businesses. This tax preparation software works well with QuickBooks, allowing you to compile financial data and then feed the results through to year-end tax returns. For those interested in the taxation branch of accountancy, Turbo Tax issues a new version each year, incorporating changes to the IRS code. When you are preparing tax returns, you can use Turbo Tax as a resource and ask questions of other users in an online community. Using Turbo Tax for your personal tax return will help you to understand the basic tax forms and the flow of information from tax worksheets and IRS schedules, to the corporate or personal tax returns ultimately filed with the U.S. government.
Many online accounting programs also prepare you for real-life accounting work by requiring that assignments be used with Microsoft Office programs, including Excel or Access. Microsoft Office is used in virtually every company, and even though accounting data may ultimately be input into software such as QuickBooks or Sage 50, many backup computations are still performed in Excel spreadsheets or Access databases.
As accounting technology changes, online degree programs will also shift their focus, striving to offer the best financial software to students. If you have a particular industry (manufacturing, health care, etc.) in mind after you graduate, don't be afraid to ask your professors which accounting software packages are frequently used in those types of companies to better prepare yourself for the road ahead.
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