Being a successful accountant requires more than having a knack for numbers; the best accountants have an eye for detail and a passion for precision, as bringing order to a disparate figures is one of the main tasks accountants are responsible for.
Fortunately, both prospective and professional accountants have access to a wide variety of useful online resources, including open-access journals, magazines, videos, blogs, and professional organizations.
Open Access Journals
Accounting journals are periodicals which are different than magazines and trade publications in that they are peer reviewed. The peer review process ensures that the new research and insights presented is accurate and free of material inaccuracies and adheres to a higher standard than other sources.
Students and working professionals both benefit from access to these empirical sources of information. The journals listed in this section are free open access journals that can be read online.
- Open Journal of Accounting (OJA) – OJA is an international journal that delivers peer reviewed articles with a global perspective by academicians and scientists from around the world. Published quarterly the Open Journal of Accounting is only available online.
- Journal of Finance and Accounting – Published twice a year this U.S. based journal publishes original studies regarding finance and accounting topics in business and education. Topics include; budgeting, taxation, methods, investments, regulatory procedures and business financial analysis.
- Research in Business and Economics Journal (RBEJ) – The RBEJ publishes two regular and one special addition annually of original, unpublished empirical research on business and economics. The journal also includes studies in accounting, finance and international business.
- Journal of Business Studies Quarterly – This quarterly publication is intended for business professionals including accountants. They publish peer reviewed articles on topics ranging from accounting to strategic management.
- Journal of Accounting & Marketing – This peer reviewed journal explores the confluence of accounting and marketing and aims to publish complete and reliable information on the discoveries and current developments in accounting and marketing. It is published three times a year and is only available online.
- Journal of Accountancy – Continuously published for almost 110 years, this is the lead publication of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The journal covers most areas of accounting including financial reporting, taxation, auditing, financial planning and ethics.
OCW or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are online courses that may be recordings of traditional lecture hall class setting, live streaming presentations, podcasts or multi-media that deliver university level educational opportunities to large numbers of people via the web. MOOCs or OCW classes are offered by top academic institutions from around the world and afford participants the opportunity to expand their own knowledge base by having gaining access to leading teachers and experts at institutions that they would not otherwise have access to.
- Financial Accounting – MIT's Sloan School of Management offers this course, taught by Professor George Plesko. The goal of this graduate level course is to foster an understanding of financial, managerial and tax reports. The course is delivered from a decision maker's point of view by focusing on the relationship between accounting data the underlying economic events driving them.
- Introduction to Financial Accounting – The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business presents this introductory financial accounting course, taught by Brian Bushee. The program is designed to supply an overview of financial accounting fundamentals for users of corporate financial information. The course also covers topics such as how economic events are recorded.
- Introduction to Finance – Presented by Gautman Kaul, this University of Michigan introductory course is devoted to the root principles of valuation. Participants will learn the concepts of time, value of money, and risk in order to understand the determinants of value formation. This program is available with subtitles in English, Chinese, Portuguese and Ukrainian.
- Taxes and Business Strategy – MIT Professor George Plesko teaches this graduate level course. Plesko desires to build a framework that will enable students to identify tax planning opportunities and implement basic principles of tax strategy. The course incorporates analytical tools in presentation.
- Management Accounting – Dr. Asokan Anandarajan, Professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology, teaches this class on the key financial accounting concepts necessary for effective decision making. The course discusses how to record transactions using T accounts and preparing adjusted trial balances. Also covered are techniques for analyzing financial statements.
- Financial Accounting and Reporting – Portland State University Professor Elizabeth Dreike Almer, PhD, CPA, instructs this course, which covers preparation of GAAP financial statements and financial disclosures. The course addresses requirements and expectations of users of financial statements. International financial accounting standards are also discussed.
- Accounting: The Language of Business – Susan Crosson and Greg Waymire of Emory University review the history of accounting from its origins in ancient Mesopotamia to today. The course examines the principles that form the foundation of modern accounting. This course requires about 3-4 hours of work each week.
- Management Accounting and Control – Mozaffar Khan, Professor at Sloan School of Management at MIT, teaches this graduate level course. This is an introduction to the use of accounting by managers for decision making, performance evaluation and control. The course is ideal for those interested in becoming management consultants.
Textbooks are great for gaining an understanding of the nuts and bolts of accounting, but they are often short on real world context. Books that are written for accountants working the field usually take a more hands on approach to various discussions. Another distinction that may be drawn between textbooks and non-textbooks is that non-textbooks are free to spend their entire length delving into very specific areas of interest thus providing much deeper insight.
The e-publishing revolution has served two purposes; first, to increase the quantity and timeliness of available books and second, to reduce the cost of books. E-books can be read via a wide range of platforms and are generally less expensive than their print counterparts.
- MBA Jargon 101 – Written for an audience that is U.S. centered, this business glossary's intent is to help you survive and thrive in a competitive environment. The book covers 5,000 enterprise wide terms and phrases, ensuring you are never caught not being able to understand what is being said.
- Accounting Dictionary – Accountants need reference books, too, and this e-dictionary includes 4,000 US-GAAP terms. Having this volume on hand at all times can be a real time saver for students and professionals alike.
- The Business Plan and Beyond – Accounting professionals and students understand the numbers that are used to evaluate a business, but there is more to a developing a business plan than numbers. This book by R.G. Bud Phelps, who has 50 years of accounting and management experience, guides readers through the process of creating a business plan and seeing it through.
- 20 Tips for Effective Financial Presentations with PowerPoint – Presentation expert, Dave Paradi, is the author of seven books on effective PowerPoint presentations. In this e-book, Dave teaches you how to bring your facts and figures to life so that decision makers can understand your analysis and take necessary action.
- The 25-Hour Day – Often, the first thing that young accountants learn after graduation is that there are never enough hours in a work day to get everything done that needs to be done. Author Jenna Myerson provides insight into the skills you need to effectively and efficiently manage your time. Filled with practical tips and techniques to improve your time management skills, this book is a must read.
- The Accounting Interview Guide – This is an insider's guide to acing accounting interviews. After spending years in school learning the foundations of accounting and finance, and gaining relevant experience through part-time jobs and internships, it's time to hit the big time. Convincing an interviewer that you are the best candidate for your dream job doesn't have to be difficult.
- Bankruptcy Tax Guide – Part of the Tax Bible Series, author Alexander Schaper covers the federal income tax ramifications of bankruptcy. This book is an important one because not all businesses succeed and bankruptcy can be wrought with tax issues. This book covers chapter 7 and 11 bankruptcies as well as bankrupt estates.
- Excel for Accounting & Finance Professionals – John Masui points out that "Microsoft Excel is a rich and powerful tool, but learning to take advantage of its features can be daunting." Whether you already have some experience or are transitioning to a newer version, this book will help ease the way, making you a more effective excel power user.
- Power-Up Using Excel Ranges – CPA, Rich Locus, has created hundreds of applications for clients, such as Nike, and in this book he explains the importance of Ranges. This is an introduction into the wonderful world of application development using VBA in Excel.
- Ratios Made Simple – In addition to understanding how to report profit and loss and maintain balance sheets, accountants can benefit from understanding the ratios behind investment decisions. Learning which bits of public information to divide by can reveal a world of otherwise hidden information that investors, including clients and employers, use to guide investment strategies.
Online Magazines and Industry News Websites
The websites and magazines in this section focus on the profession of accounting in its various applications including tax, corporate and small business. Unlike journals, these publications are not peer-reviewed but are nonetheless written, more often than not, by accounting experts.
- AICPA – The AICPA is the largest member association representing accountants in the world. The AICPA website news and publications page has links where visitors can sign up for several free newsletters published by the organization. The newsletters include:
- CPA Practice Advisor – This monthly publication has both print and digital editions. The magazine has regular sections that cover Accounting & Audit, firm management and tax, and compliance. Most issues also include useful product and service reviews. The magazine is widely read by CPAs and public accountants alike.
- The CPA Journal – This is the official publication of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants. In addition to general accounting, auditing and finance articles, the magazine covers topics of particular interest to New York accountants and accountants with clients who have business interests in New York State.
- New Accountant – Focused on individuals who are interested in a career in accounting, this publication is available in a high school edition and an international edition. New Accountant includes articles and white papers on a variety of topics as well as an education and career center.
- Accounting and Business – This international association of accountants provides members and subscribers with a plethora of digital and print publications on a wide range of topics of interest to accountants. The global reach and view of this site make it a valuable asset in an ever increasing global marketplace.
- Inside Public Accounting – This website and newsletter features independent reporting and benchmarking that is of relevance to public accountants and CFOs. The information contained is timely, focused, accurate and intended improve operations and best practices.
- International Accountant – The Association of International Accountants website and International Accountant magazine is for global accountants. The site and magazine provide relevant news and research for accountants who are involved in multi-national accounting.
- AICPA – AICPA is the largest membership organization for CPAs in the world. The AICPA defines standards for audits, financial reviews and financial statement preparation. The institute provides education for members and the public on a wide range of tax and accounting issues.
- The Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business (IMA) – IMA serves as a forum for research, practice development, education and knowledge sharing as well as advocacy for the highest ethical standards in management accounting. The association offers a credential of Certified Management Accountant (CMA).
- American Accounting Association – This organization primarily represents accountants who are in academia. The group, first formed in 1916, publishes several journals and newsletters that are of interest to public and corporate accountants and accounting students.
- National Society of Accountants (NSA) – The NSA provides leadership through helping its members gain success in the profession of accounting and taxation through high standards in ethics, education and professional excellence. The society develops and delivers continuing education materials for members. It also publishes a newsletter and blog with information on relevant tax and accounting issues.
- The National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) – NABA is a membership based organization that addresses the professional needs of its members. Founded in 1969, the association works to build and shape future leaders in accounting and finance.
- The Professional Association of Small Business Accountants (PASBA) – PASBA represents CPAs, Public Accountants and Enrolled Agents who provide tax and accounting services to small businesses. By utilizing the collective resources of the association, all members benefit from the expertise of the group as a whole.
- American Association of Finance & Accounting (AAFA) – AAFA was founded in 1978 as an alliance of executive search firms that specialize in recruiting and staffing of finance and accounting professionals. The association seeks to benefit members, employers and job seekers in delivering the highest quality services.
Each state has its own requirement for licensure; the table below provides links to each of the 50 states' Board of Accountancy.
The information contained in this guide was accurate and up to date at the time of publication but as with the tax and accounting profession in general everything is subject to change with little notice. Diligence should be paid to the IRS News and Events page for changes to filing requirements dates and changes in the law. The same applies to each state and municipality.