Updated September 04, 2018 by Melissa Harr

The 10 Best Accounting Textbooks

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We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Figuring out budgets is hard, even if you love numbers. From tax returns to corporate financial statements, these accounting textbooks will help you get a foothold. Whether you're aiming to become a CPA or want to more fully understand your business' financial health, something from our selection will get you closer to your goal. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best accounting textbook on Amazon.

10. Fundamental Accounting Principles 23rd Edition

9. Financial Accounting 12th Edition

8. Accounting Made Simple

7. Accounting 27th Edition

6. Barron's Handbook

5. Schaum's Outline of Principles 5th Edition

4. Advanced Accounting 13th Edition

3. Financial Accounting

2. Intermediate Accounting 16th Edition

1. Managerial Accounting

A Brief History Of Accounting

The need for trustworthy bookkeepers skyrocketed, and standardized testing and licensing went into effect in 1896.

For about as long as money's been around, there's been a need for accounting. The practice dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, around 5000 B.C.E., when people used it to track herd growth and crop yields, while the Babylonians and Egyptians developed auditing techniques around this same time.

By the time of the Roman Empire, accounting was seen as an essential practice for both the government and private businesses. The Romans were the first to force merchants to share financial information with them, thereby allowing them to ensure that everyone was rendering unto Caesar all of the things that were due unto Caesar.

The science would truly come into its own in the late 15th century C.E., when an Italian mathematician named Luca Pacioli published his seminal work on double-entry bookkeeping. The backbone of Pacioli's system is still in use today, which is why he's regarded as the father of modern accounting.

Professional accounting began as an offshoot of solicitation, as it was simply a service that solicitors would provide in addition to offering legal advice. It began to be so in-demand, however, that practitioners were able to offer their services full-time.

Once the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, however, financial transactions began to become more complex, thanks to the advent of corporations and an increase in global trade. The need for trustworthy bookkeepers skyrocketed, and standardized testing and licensing went into effect in 1896.

When the Securities and Exchange Commission was created in 1934, it brought accountants to the forefront of public consciousness, as they acted as corporate watchdogs. This eventually led to accountants offering other services, such as consulting — and it left unscrupulous firms open to conflicts of interest.

These issues would come to a head in 2001, when the Enron scandal brought down Arthur Andersen, which was then one of the top firms in the world. This caused Congress to pass the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which restricted consulting practices and required more in-depth disclosures.

However, accountants got the last laugh, as any need for detailed financial information only creates the need for more accountants, causing the field to continue to grow.

Things To Consider When Pursuing A Career In Accounting

Pursuing an accounting degree can be a smart choice, as it's a reliable way to make a comfortable living. However, it's not for everyone, and there are a few things you should consider before signing up for those student loans.

The first is your personality type. If you find yourself drawn to rules and regulations (not to mention comforted by routine), then you could potentially excel in this field. However, if you're more concerned with expressing yourself than you are with following instructions, you might want to consider doing something else.

There are usually tons of opportunities as well, so it's easy to break into the profession when you're just starting out.

Your ability to withstand a grind is also important. Accountants work long hours, and tax season can be a non-stop slog of overtime and weekend work. This can be extremely stressful, , so if you're not adept at handling a strain, accounting can put you in an early grave.

Speaking of which, there are health considerations to keep in mind. You'll be chained to your desk for most of the day, which can be hazardous to your life expectancy. You'll also be tempted to grab fast food for every meal. If you're not able to hold yourself to a reasonable diet and exercise routine, you're probably better off choosing something less sedentary as a profession.

That's not to say that there aren't any positives associated with the profession. You can make very good money, and your job should be recession-proof. There are usually tons of opportunities as well, so it's easy to break into the profession when you're just starting out. Even with the rise of do-it-yourself software, jobs should be readily available.

Accounting is one of those jobs that people either love or hate, with little in-between. If you think you've got the disposition for it, it's a great way to have a stable long-term career.

How To Become An Accountant

If you've decided to pursue a profession in the high-paced world of accounting, you're fortunate in that there's a pretty clear career path that you can follow.

The first thing you need to do is get your bachelor's degree in accounting. In most jurisdictions, this is the absolute minimum amount of education you need to take the CPA exam.

If you've decided to pursue a profession in the high-paced world of accounting, you're fortunate in that there's a pretty clear career path that you can follow.

Once you get that degree (and don't crunch the numbers on the financial intelligence of all those loans), it's time to choose a specialty. The two broad areas are public accounting and corporate or business accounting, each of which has a number of sub-specializations, such as auditing, managerial accounting, and so forth.

Next, decide if you want to become a CPA. It's not required, as you can get a job in a number of businesses without a certification, but you'll earn more as a CPA. The trade-off is that you have to put in a ton of work to pass that monstrous exam.

Once you get that license (or not), it's time for the fun part: landing a job. Ideally, you should have done an internship while you were in school, giving you an "in" at a large firm. Even if you haven't, though, you should be able to grab your ledger and show up to an entry-level job without much hassle.

From there, it's all about climbing the ladder. You might even consider getting your master's degree, or you could just put in the hard work impressing the higher-ups in your organization.

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Melissa Harr
Last updated on September 04, 2018 by Melissa Harr

Melissa Harr is a language-obsessed writer from Chicagoland who holds both a bachelor of arts and master of arts in English. Although she began as a TEFL teacher, earning several teaching certificates and working in both Russia and Vietnam, she moved into freelance writing to satisfy her passion for the written word. She has published full-length courses and books in the realm of arts & crafts and DIY; in fact, most of her non-working time is spent knitting, cleaning, or committing acts of home improvement. Along with an extensive knowledge of tools, home goods, and crafts and organizational supplies, she has ample experience (okay, an obsession) with travel gear, luggage, and the electronics that make modern life more convenient.


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