Many leading thinkers have called accounting the language of business. It is such a shame, then, that so many of us have a degree of prejudice towards the job of an accountant. Boring, dry, mind-numbing. All these adjectives are commonly used to describe accounting.
Reality is something entirely different. These days, a good accountant is not only expected to be a mere supervisor of financial transactions. In the modern business world, an accountant is expected to participate in the financial decisions of an organization. Up-to-date statistics tell us that 42% of businesses expect their accountants to give them financial advice.
So, long gone are the days of dry number-grinding. Modern accountants need to be creative, ambitious, and business-minded. These traits coupled with accounting skills will make you an in-demand asset among the modern workforce. And, with high demand come the high-paying jobs.
Accounting skills, however, are not only essential to finance professionals. Basic accounting principles will also immensely benefit one’s personal life.
“But I already know the differences between profit and loss, I also know how to do my taxes.”, I hear you saying.
No offense, but that’s not enough. If you want to master your finances, you need to “understand” money. Don’t believe me? Well, here’s a challenge. Try budgeting after taking one online accounting class and one online Excel class. By the end of the year, you will be in better financial shape than before. This is not a prediction, this is a fact.
Long story short, accounting is an essential skill. This is why we decided to compile a top 10 of the best online accounting courses. Whether you wish to get a sense of your own finances or are dreaming of a career as a budget analyst of a Fortune 500 company, you will find a suitable course from this list.
These are the best accounting courses and tutorials you can take online.
Best Online Accounting Courses
Best Overall: Introduction to Financial Accounting (Coursera x Wharton)
As far as accounting courses go, “Introduction to Financial Accounting” by Coursera is as good as it gets. Big words? Certainly, but this beginner-friendly accounting class quickly demonstrates why I hold it in such high regard.
First off, allow me to raise my hat to the instructor, Brian Bushee. Bushee knows that keeping the students engaged is as important as the lessons themselves. So, he has put in the effort to make learning about finance feel as captivating as possible.
He has prepared lectures and practical exercises that are easy-to-understand, highly detailed, and applicable in real-life.
Even previously completely number-illiterate reviewers have noted that Bushee’s teachings have been key to them finally understanding accounting basics. So, if reading the balance sheet has previously got you covered cold sweat, this course will finally change all that.
The course itself is medium-length, taking approximately 12 hours to finish. Enough to not only get you acquainted with the accounting basics but to also make you think of finance in more broad terms.
The pace of the course is another highlight. The lessons never feel rushed, yet you never feel left behind either. This makes for a well streamlined learning experience. One that might leave you hungry for more. If so, the sky is the limit. As you know, careers in finance are always lucrative. So, who knows, maybe this accounting class is the start of something big for you.
As far as we are concerned, this is the number one online accounting class currently available. It is a great mix of good structure, beginner-friendly pace, engaging presentation, and detailed lessons. And, as an icing on the cake, the course comes with a shareable certificate of completion.
Best Free Course: Accounting Fundamentals: Understanding Financial Statements (Skillshare)
40% off Annual Membership – use discount code FLASH40 (expires 21 October)
30-day free trial
There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Luckily, we are not talking about food here. As far as accounting classes go, it is entirely possible to learn the basics for free.
This leads us to our pick for the best free accounting course.
The class is presented by none other than Matt Cooper, the CEO of Skillshare. And, if anyone knows the makings of a great online class, then this is the CEO of Skillshare.
In my opinion, “Accounting Fundamentals” by Skillshare share similarities to “Become A Bookkeeper” by LinkedIn Learning. Both of the courses are not only suitable for bookkeepers, but for anyone looking to gain an understanding of basic financial logic. And, some financial skills are essential, whichever career path you might be following.
Do the terms such as income statement, cash flow, and balance sheet ring a bell? No? Well, they should. Gaining some understanding of basic accounting principles will not only benefit your professional life. For example, your budgeting skills will instantly skyrocket after learning some finance theory basics.
And, this is where this 46-minute Skillshare course will come to the rescue. For anyone looking to get a quick leg-up on accounting principles, this Blitzkrieg of a class is one of the best options out there.
Best for Bookkeeping: Become a Bookkeeper (LinkedIn Learning)
For people working in a small business, “Become a Bookkeeper” by LinkedIn Learning should be mandatory. And yes, this goes for the CEOs as well. Why? Before I explain the all-around benefits of this accounting class, allow me to explain the structure of the course.
This 15-hour accounting class is split into six different modules. The first three modules will give attendees a throughout overview of the foundations of bookkeeping. The key theme here is cash flow management. Bingo! This is exactly why the benefits of this class are not exclusive to bookkeepers. Nearly everyone handling money should learn the basics of cash flow. It is key to profitability, sustainability, and the overall health of an organization or a personal budget.
The second part of this accounting course is laser-focused on QuickBooks. For small businesses, QuickBooks is invaluable software. And the lessons here are streamlined magnificently.
They are beginner-friendly, engaging, and highly detailed. So, even total beginners to the software will be handling it with confidence by the end of this course.
All in all, for people managing finance of a small business, this is one of the best accounting classes available.
Most Comprehensive: MicroMasters Program in Accounting (edX x Indiana University)
NOTE: The MicroMasters is being replaced by a full online Masters Program from Indiana University
“MicroMasters Program in Accounting” from edX is delivered by the Kelley School of Business (ranked no. 23 in the USA as of 2020). The lectures are of elite-quality and will give you the real-life skills needed to launch a career in finance. However, enrolling in a course such as this doesn’t come without a few sacrifices.
For one, this a nine-month-long course, so you will be investing a considerable amount of time into attending. To help you decide, allow me to do a quick breakdown of the three courses included in this class.
The first of the three courses is designed for teaching students the fundamentals of business transactions. Here, you will learn all the essential skills to analyze, interpret, and create financial statements. A foundation for your career as an accountant.
Once you are well-versed on the technicalities, you will move on to the second module. Here, you will learn to harness your accounting skills to start making business decisions. In these lessons, accountants are taught to be accountable (pun intended) for the financial direction a company takes. In my opinion, a good accountant should be the key financial advisor of the company. This is a course for becoming a proactive financial thinker, not a glorified assistant with some basic balance sheet knowledge.
The third part of this class also deserves special attention. Here, you will learn how to minimize the taxes of the company or the individual. Legally, of course. E-student is not interested in preparing future white-collar criminals.
The course is long, detailed, and somewhat challenging. But for people serious about a career in finance, it is a great resource.
Best for CPA Exam Prep: Fundamentals of Accounting Specialization (Coursera x University of Illinois)
For those of you looking to launch a career as an accountant, the “Fundamentals of Accounting Specialization” from Coursera and University of Illinois is among the best accounting classes available. It is beginner-friendly, in-depth, engaging, and developed considering the real-life demands of accountants.
This accounting masterclass is spread into five different courses, that take approximately 6 months to complete in full. Yes, it is certainly a time-consuming course. However, this class is far more than your standard introduction to basic accounting principles. So, if you are willing to sacrifice the time and effort, the benefits will be substantial.
So what makes this course stand out among other accounting classes?
Well, in this course, accountants are seen as the very lifeblood of the organization. In this masterclass, students will not only learn to interpret, analyze, and organize the financial terms of a company. They will also learn to optimize it for growth. Impressive? I agree.
In a nutshell, for people wishing to embark on an accounting career path, this Coursera class will provide a great base. Not only will you be getting a solid introduction to the basics, but you will also learn to think of finance in broader terms. And, allow me to give you a small hint. In-depth courses such as these will give a solid leg-up for those of you planning on taking the (notorious) CPA exam.
Best for Financial Accounting Theory: “Financial Accounting Fundamentals” (Coursera x University of Virginia)
The “Financial Accounting Fundamentals” course from Coursera was developed by the Darden School of Business at University of Virginia. Darden is regularly ranked as one of the top 15 business schools in the US. This fact alone should get you excited about this online accounting class. And, it does not disappoint.
The course itself is medium-length, taking about 13 hours to complete in full. However, don’t let the length of the course scare you. Materials are beginner-friendly and require no prior accounting experience. And, the deadlines are flexible as well. So, in order to get the most out of this accounting class, I would advise taking your time.
A career in accounting can be extremely lucrative. Yet, I know some of you have number-related traumas from high school. For those people, this engaging course is one of the best choices available.
The income statement, cash flow, balance sheet. All these terms might sound boring. But, trust me, they are not. The best accounting courses make finance theory seem like an art form. And, this class from Coursera is one of them.
As a cherry on top, the course comes with a shareable certificate. And, as avid E-learners already know, an online certification can take you places. Especially if it is from one of the top business schools in the USA.
Best for Practical Application: Financial Accounting Part 1 & Part 2 (LinkedIn Learning)
Let’s continue with another solid accounting class from LinkedIn.
If you have been paying attention, Kay Stice should be a familiar name.
That’s right, he was one of the instructors of our choice for the “best bookkeeping” course. This time, he is joined by his brother, Jim Stice. Both of them are celebrated accounting professors with decades-long experience. Rest assured, when it comes to teaching finance, their expertise is well grounded.
The syllabus of “Financial Accounting” class (Part 1 and Part 2) takes approximately seven hours to complete and is suitable for both beginner and intermediate level learners. It is a very logically structured course, starting with the rudiments of accounting. Such as interpreting the balance sheet, statement of cash flow, and the income statement. As the course progresses, students can start putting their newly-developed number-crunching skills into practice.
If you are like me, you need captivating practical exercises for efficient learning. And, this is where this course knocks it out of the park.
Interpreting financial statements of Walmart and estimating the value of McDonald’s. These are just a few examples of fun practical exercises attendants will be doing. You will be so captivated by the case studies and exercises that it is easy to forget that you are enrolling in an MBA-level online accounting class.
All in all, for those who value engaging practical exercises in their learning experience, this might be one of the best accounting classes available.
Engaging Accounting Course: Introduction to Finance, Accounting, Modeling, and Valuation (Udemy)
Steep discounts for new users – courses from $14.99 (expires 31 Oct)
IT certification prep courses from $12.99 (expires 31 Oct)
This is precisely why we have selected the accounting courses that are not only resourceful but also easy-to-follow and engaging.
This leads us to our next choice, “Introduction to Finance, Accounting, Modeling, and Valuation” from Udemy.
Our list of best accounting courses would have been incomplete without including this best-selling Udemy class. I can already hear you asking, “What makes this accounting class so special?”
Well, for one, it is delivered by none other than Chris Haroun. Chris is an award-winning MBA professor, venture capitalist, author, and a self-development superstar.
I am a long-time fan of his book “101 Crucial Lessons They Don’t Teach You In Business School.” So, needless to say, I was very excited about what Chris would bring to the table with his online accounting class.
And, I’m glad to say, I wasn’t disappointed. To say Haroun is an excellent speaker would be a gross understatement.
This class takes approximately four hours to complete.
And, during all the lessons, Haroun makes key accounting concepts seem as captivating as a Chris Nolan movie.
Yes, he is that good of a speaker.
If you are one of those people that need your courses to be entertaining, then look no further. This medium-length accounting class shines in engagement and accessibility.
An Excellent Crash Course: Accounting and Financial Statement Analysis: Complete Training (Udemy)
Let’s move forward with one of the best-selling online accounting courses of Udemy. Throughout the years, Udemy has delivered some of the best beginner-friendly online courses on various topics. So, the “Accounting and Financial Statement Analysis” three-hour accounting class certainly deserves further inspection.
It quickly becomes clear why this course is such a success. For one, engagement-wise, this course is in a league of its own. In this accounting class, the lessons and the assignments are constructed to capture even the most financially illiterate out there. So, for beginners, this course is certainly among the best options currently available.
In addition to being supremely accessible, the course has several other strong points. For example, the production quality of the video lessons, the number of practical lessons, and the clarity of the lectures.
However, let’s be clear on the target audience for this course. This is not the class for people looking to nail their CPA exam and launch a star-studded career as a certified public accountant. This class is strictly for people looking for a medium-length course to get a hold of the basic truths of the finance world. And, for people with such goals, it is a great choice.
Overall, my impression of this accounting class is positive. It is a Udemy best-seller for a clear reason. It is concise, captivating, and very beginner-friendly.