As technology has weaved its way into our lives, many students and their parents can hardly recall the days of manually calculating a gratuity or solving algebraic formulas because we all travel with a calculator app built into our cell phones. And since unfamiliarity often breeds contempt, the whole world seems to have developed a collective math phobia.
Darrell Smith, a business and accounting instructor with NCTC, is well-acquainted with this fearful approach to math. He sees it all the time while talking to students about accounting — and offers the wise reminder that even if the intricacies of advanced mathematical equations inspire nail-biting, the basic functions of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are core lessons that date back to our grade school years.
“A lot of students are intimidated by accounting, and even math,” Smith says. “But if you can complete a college algebra course, you can easily do any accounting problem.”
Spreading his message that most of us know more math than we think, Smith is optimistic that NCTC’s launch of a new Accounting program for Fall 2019 is welcome news — and not just for people who don’t run away screaming when they hear terms like “ledgers” and “financial analysis.”
The Accounting program entails a new 60-credit-hour Associate of Applied Science degree with two concentrations. The first focuses on training as a staff accountant, typically a position within a large corporate environment and requiring a foundation in accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll and reporting collaboration in order to facilitate corporate financial reporting. A staff accountant usually serves as “the backbone of the corporate accounting department,” Smith explains, and might also continue to develop through education and training on a career path to become a CPA or accounting manager.
NCTC’s second accounting concentration focuses on the role of an accounting technician (bookkeeper) and predictable job skills such as manual accounting and software-based accounting — or a combination of the two — in a small business environment. The accounting technician (bookkeeper) concentration also has an associated Level 1 Certificate that a student can complete in one year. Potentially, a student might use this certificate to enter the workforce and/or continue on with the full Associate of Applied Science program.
Another unique aspect of the new program, Smith says, is its mixture of both digital technologies and old-school pen-to-paper number crunching. Several classes focus on the mechanics of accounting while others offer instruction about the modern accounting workplace.
Both of the new accounting concentrations (plus an Occupational Skills Award in Accounting certificate) are tailored to prepare students for associated industry certifications. For example, the accounting technician (bookkeeper) concentration preps students for the testing portion of the American Institute of Professional Bookkeeper (AIPB) certification — the industry standard for bookkeepers and something that Smith says looks great on a resume and enhances any student’s employment potential.
Other certifications being integrated into the Business/Accounting program are Microsoft Excel (accounting concentration), QuickBooks Software and Payroll. Several classes focus on the mechanics of accounting while others offer instruction about the modern accounting workplace.
“All of these items make the new Accounting program unique in North Texas and in Texas overall,” Smith says.
He attributes both the idea and the structure for the new program to the efforts of an outstanding Accounting Advisory Board comprised of a mix of large corporate and small business accounting professionals. The staff accountant concentration is tailored to the corporate environment, while the accounting technician (bookkeeper) concentration provides CPA firms with trained staff.
Currently, NCTC offers four courses in the field of accounting that benefit students seeking to major in the field at four-year institutions or working towards associate degrees in business, and most of the college’s Business/Accounting classes include dual credit offerings.
Easy As 3-6-9
A great way to “test the waters” and remember basic math skills you possessed in fifth grade comes in the form of a 9-credit-hours certification — the Occupational Skills Award in Accounting.
Business and accounting instructor Darrell Smith says this certificate is aimed at individuals and business owners looking to obtain basic knowledge about accounting for a small business, and if a student wants to continue further coursework, the hours apply to both the Associate of Applied Science degree with the accounting technician (bookkeeper) concentration or the Level 1 Certificate.