Accounting programs prepare people to create and review financial records. Students learn various accounting methods such as cost accounting. They also learn to audit records to ensure they comply with tax laws and other standards.
You probably don't keep a record of every dollar you spend or earn, but businesses do. That wealth of information is kept for more than just tax purposes. It can help to answer questions like these: Is a certain product making a profit? What would be the cost of hiring 20 researchers? If a branch office were to relocate, would the company pay higher or lower taxes?
Accountants are the people who know how to dig into the pile of business data and find the answers to these questions. As an accountant you analyze where and how money and other assets flow within a business. You also produce reports for managers or other coworkers. They use these reports to make the decisions that keep the business running successfully.
Every part of a business keeps records. Thus as a student of accounting you need to study many aspects of business. This is so that you can understand what kinds of records are being kept and recognize various trends based on them. In addition, you need to understand what laws apply to the various transactions that go on in a business.
Most four-year colleges and universities offer a bachelor's degree in accounting. This is enough education to get you a job as an accountant. However, if you want to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), you may need additional education. Usually you need a fifth year of courses to qualify for the CPA exam. Thus many accounting students get a master's degree. A master's degree can give you the chance to learn a specialization such as auditing.
Another option is to get a master of business administration (MBA) degree with a concentration in accounting. Or you may want to get a specialized master's degree in accounting. Over 100 business schools offer one or both types of degree. Typically these programs take two years beyond the bachelor's. Often you do an internship between the first and second years.