Accounting Program

Accountants are always in demand. After all, businesses run on money, and people have to pay taxes. Professionals who understand the ins and outs of commerce are incredibly valuable. If you are interested in finance and want to pursue a reliable and respected career, accounting could be a great program for you.

Oakton's Accounting curriculum is designed to prepare you for employment in an accounting position upon completing the degree or certificates. In the Accounting program, you'll learn about various aspects of accounting and become familiar with the most commonly used accounting technology. The skills you develop will serve you well as you pursue a career in various accounting-related fields, including working as a certified public accountant (CPA), tax accountant or staff accountant.

A Path For Your Future

Oakton and Roosevelt University have a transfer pathway for students completing the A.A.S. degree in Accounting degree. See Partnerships and Transfer Pathways for more information. The transfer pathway with Roosevelt allows students who have completed the A.A.S. degree to transfer accounting courses that would typically not transfer to the four-year university.

If you're interested in beginning an entry-level career in accounting, such as staff accounting, accounts payable, payroll or income tax preparation, you can pursue the two-year Associate of Science (A.A.S.) degree. A bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field is typically required to become an accountant or auditor. If you plan to pursue a bachelor's degree, you can take your transferrable general education courses at Oakton through the Associate in Arts (A.A.) pre-major pathway for Business and Accounting.

Degrees and Certificates

This comprehensive program encompasses financial accounting, accounting technology, managerial accounting, taxation and business ethics. The primary difference between the A.A.S. in Accounting and the Accounting Associate Certificate is that the A.A.S. requires students to also complete 18 hours of general education courses. Students will be eligible for a variety of accounting jobs, including staff accounting, accounts payable, general ledger, payroll or income tax preparation.

Learn More About the A.A.S.

Learn More About the Certificate

The following pre-major is recommended for students who are considering completing a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Business and/or Accounting after transferring to a four-year institution. It is designed for students who have not decided upon a specific four-year college or university.

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This is a comprehensive program that encompasses financial accounting, accounting technology, managerial accounting, taxation, and business ethics. Graduates will be eligible for a variety of accounting jobs, including staff accounting, accounts payable, general ledger, payroll, or income tax preparation.

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This certificate provides extensive practice in general accounting procedures, including training in Microsoft Excel, QuickBooks and cloud accounting systems. Graduates will be qualified for jobs in accounts payable, credit and collections, general ledger, payroll or other staff accounting positions.

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This certificate covers a thorough understanding of the accounting cycle as well as the same tax preparation courses taken by CPA candidates. The program also includes including training in Microsoft Excel, QuickBooks Online, and other cloud platforms. Graduates will be eligible for jobs as tax accountants, as well as jobs in accounts payable, general ledger and other staff accounting positions. Students will also be qualified to sit for the IRS Enrolled Agent Exam.

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This certificate prepares students for the CPA exam. Students will complete 30 hours of accounting and satisfy the education requirements of the Illinois Board of Examiners. The courses cover extensive topics in financial accounting, managerial accounting, taxation, and auditing. Students will be eligible for higher-level jobs as staff accountants, tax accountants, internal auditors, assistant controllers or external auditors.

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Job Outlook

The employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow seven percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 135,000 openings for accountants and auditors are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

The median annual wage for accountants and auditors was $73,560 in May 2020.

 Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Oakton tree in the spring time.
Maria Gutierrez
"I am learning things like how to do income statements, how to do inventories, and figuring out what will make profits and how to decide if you should make investments. When I start my own business I’ll need all of these skills. My teachers are so nice and helpful and reply to my emails right away. I can manage my busy life with the kids and work and school."

Maria Gutierrez

Accounting student

Maria's Story

Meet Your Faculty and Experts

Oakton's accounting faculty is composed of distinguished professors and lecturers who are also qualified and certified CPAs. 

In addition, the accounting curriculum is guided by a panel of experts.

Leslie Van Wolvelear, EdD, CPA, CGMA
Chair and Student Advisor

Distinguished Professor of Accounting
A.A. William Rainey Harper College
B.S. University of Illinois at Chicago
B.G.S. Roosevelt University
M.S. Roosevelt University
M.O.T. University of Illinois Springfield
Ed.D. in Leadership American College of Education
lvanwolv@oakton.edu
847.376.7135
Room 3610, Des Plaines
Faculty Homepage

Anita Cotton, CPA, CMA
Professor of Accounting
B.S. Illinois State University
M.A.Ed. Concordia University
M.B.A. University of Chicago
acotton@oakton.edu
847.635.1462
Room B224, Skokie

Prashant Rawal, CPA
Professor of Accounting
A.A. William Rainey Harper College
B.S. Roosevelt University
M.B.A. University of Phoenix
prawal@oakton.edu
847.635.1814
Room 3616, Des Plaines


Meet our part time faculty

Rebecca Birg, CPA
Lecturer
B.S. Tulane University
M.S. Tulane University
Career and Technixal Educator License
rbirg@oakton.edu
847.635.1910
Room 2180, Des Plaines

Larry Cohen, CPA
Lecturer
B.S. Roosevelt University
M.S. Roosevelt University
J.D. John Marshall Law School
L.L.M. John Marshall Law School
lcohen@oakton.edu
312.339.5555
847.635.1910
Room 2180, Des Plaines

Mark Gershman, CPA
Lecturer
B.S. Indiana University
M.B.A. DePaul University
mgershma@oakton.edu
847.635.1910
Room B206, Skokie

Ruizhen Hardin, CPA
Lecturer
B.A. East China Normal University
M.P.A. Georgia State University
rhardin@oakton.edu
847.635.1910
Room B206, Skokie

Mitchell Helfand, CPA
Lecturer
B.A. University of Illinois Champaign
M.B.A. Northwestern University - Kellogg Graduate School of Management
mhelfand@oakton.edu
847.635.1910
Room 2180, Des Plaines

Eralda Kanacevic
Lecturer
B.A. Robert Morris University
M.B.A. (concentration in Accounting) University of Phoenix
ekanacev@oakton.edu
847.635.1910
Room B206, Skokie

Jonathan Mrowiec
Lecturer
BS Millikin University
MBA University of Illinois Urbana
MSA University of Illinois Urbana
jmrowiec@oakton.edu
847.635.1910
Room 2180, Des Plaines

David Polster, CPA
Lecturer
B.A. University of Colorado
M.B.A. Kellogg Graduate School of Management
dpolster@oakton.edu
847.635.1910
Room B206, Skokie

Paul Simkus, CPA
Lecturer
B.S. Ball State University
M.B.A. Ball State University
psimkus@oakton.edu
847.635.1910
Room 2180, Des Plaines

Michelle Wray, CPA
Lecturer
B.S. Truman State University
M.A.S. Northern Illinois University
mwray@oakton.edu
847.635.1910
Room B206, Skokie

Mary Mindak (2021-2023)
Associate Professor
DePaul University - School of Accountancy

Jody Padar (2022-2024)
CEO and Principal
New Vision CPA Group

David Perry (2022-2024)
Partner
Friedman & Huey Associates LLP

Starr Robinson (2022-2024)
Principal
Starr M. Robinson & Associates PC
Rebecca Rosenblum (2021-2023)
Career and Technical Education Teacher
Glenbrook High Schools

Margaret Tower (2021-2023)
Instructor of Accounting
DePaul University - School of Accountancy

Marc Battista
Associate Vice President of Workforce Education/Dean of Business and Career Technologies
Oakton Community College

Leslie Van Wolvelear, EdD
Accounting Program Chair
Oakton Community College

What's Next?

We are glad you are considering attending Oakton Community College. No matter where you are in your decision-making process, we are here to help you with your next steps. Whether you're ready to apply now, need information on paying for college or have questions and want to contact someone, we're here to help.

FAQ

Oakton accepts the national CLEP exam for financial accounting to count as ACC 153 Principles of Financial Accounting. For students who are receiving Oakton degrees and certificates, this will satisfy the requirement for ACC 153. For students who plan to transfer, you need to check with your transfer institution to ensure that CLEP accounting exam will be accepted. If the four-year school does not accept it, please consider taking ACC 153 at Oakton since ACC 153 is a transfer course.

Yes. Oakton is a qualified provider of CPE credits. Accountants may receive 15 hours of CPE credit for every credit hour of class. The most popular classes to be taken for CPE credit are ACC 170 Payroll (15 CPEs), ACC 180 Excel (45 CPEs), and ACC 183 QuickBooks (45 CPEs).

In order to obtain these credits, students need to submit an official transcript to Beth DiGiacinto at Oakton’s Alliance for Lifelong Learning. Beth can be reached at 847-635-2604 or bdigiacinto@oakton.edu.

Licensure Requirements: Each state and territory has different licensure and certification requirements.  Oakton has researched and/or contacted state licensing authorities to confirm that the program meets the educational requirements leading to professional licensure.  Other licensure requirements may include professional certification exams, background checks, years of work experience, fingerprinting, etc.

Licensure information is reviewed and updated on this site in June of each year. As of July 1, 2020, we have determined that individuals that successfully complete Oakton’s Certified Public Accountant Preparation Program curriculum:

Meets the education requirements leading to licensure/certification in these states and U.S. Territories: Illinois

Does NOT meet the education requirements For licensure/certification in these states and U.S. Territories: 

We have not made a determination if the program curriculum meets the requirements for licensure/certification in these states and US Territories: Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

If you intend to practice in any state other than Illinois, you should contact the appropriate licensing agency to independently verify whether Oakton’s program satisfies the educational requirements for licensure in a particular state before beginning Oakton’s program. Be aware that state licensure requirements may change from time to time and that states may have conditions for licensure in addition to educational requirements.

This information is provided to meet the Disclosure Requirements for Academic Programs Leading to Professional Licensure or Certification.

There are two kinds of associate's degrees. The first is the transfer degree. This is the AA degree. All the courses will transfer to the 4 year institutions, and you can seamlessly move on to a university without losing any hours. In accounting, you would only be able to take two accounting courses (ACC 153 and 154) as these are the only courses that are guaranteed to be accepted by the 4-year schools.

In the AA degree, you would take all of the general education core and the business core. These are the same courses that any freshman and sophomore would take at any business school. Colleges don't offer the upper level courses for the major until junior or senior year. Visit the AA for business transfer description, in the Oakton College Catalog for more detail.

The other kind of associate's degree is the career degree (AAS). This is for students who are not planning to transfer. Some people already have a bachelor's degrees in another field. Some students just want job skills. Some students do not feel that their lives will allow them the time to get a 4-year degree so they pursue the 2-year degree. Some students need any degree in order to move up with their jobs.

The AAS in accounting is a career degree program. We cut back on some of the general education classes and focus more heavily on business and accounting classes. If you get this degree, you will have taken more accounting courses that will prepare you for a job in the accounting industry. You will not, however, have taken many of the general education classes. The good part of the AAS is that you develop very strong accounting skills, including a strong focus on working with accounting software.

There are two problems with the AAS. First, the upper level accounting courses do not transfer to the four year schools. The universities want you to take the accounting major courses locally at their institutions. Second, many employers require a bachelor's degree as the minimum job requirement.

If you looking for some job skills, it is much faster to pursue one of our certificate programs than the AAS degree.

Accounting Associate Certificate (42 cr.)
This is OCC’s broadest accounting certificate. It includes most areas of accounting, including financial accounting, managerial accounting, and income taxes. It also includes some general business courses. It prepares students for entry into most areas of accounting, including training in accounting software.  It does not include all CPA-track courses.  Students who are planning to pursue the CPA should follow the CPA Preparation Certificate.

Accounting Technology Certificate (formerly known as Bookkeeping Certificate) (20 cr.)
This certificate is a good base for someone entering the field. It covers financial accounting, managerial accounting, QuickBooks, Excel, Cloud Accounting, Cloud Drives, and payroll.  Coursework includes a great deal of hands on skills training to help students become ready for jobs in the accounting field.

Income Tax Preparation Certificate (18 cr.)
This certificate will prepare students to become tax preparers.  It includes many hands on bookkeeping skills such as QuickBooks and Excel, and also covers the tax content of the CPA exam.  Students who complete this certificate might consider becoming IRS Enrolled Agents.  This exam is given by the government and tests tax law knowledge.  If a tax preparer passes this Exam, it allows him/her to represent a client before the IRS.  This is a privilege that is usually restricted to CPA's and attorneys.

Professional Accounting/CPA Preparation Certificate (36 cr.)
This certificate is designed to help candidates prepare for the CPA exam and meet the minimum number of accounting hours required to sit for the CPA exam.  See our CPA Exam page for more information about the education requirements from the Illinois Board of Examiners.

Most courses with the ACC prefix will count as part of the 30 accounting hours required.  The only exception of ACC 255 Accounting Careers.  ACC 255 is part of the 150 total hours for the CPA exam, but not part of the 30 accounting hours.  All other ACC courses will count toward the 30 accounting hours.

Students who follow our CPA Preparation Certificate will have learned all the accounting knowledge that they need for the CPA exam.  After completing these courses, students are encouraged to take a CPA Review course which will review all of this content as well as provide many practice questions. There are live CPA Review courses, online courses, and study books that can be purchased. Oakton does not offer this program, but you can view providers at Illinois CPA Society - CPA Exam Resources.

Aside from the 30 credit hours of accounting that are required to sit for the CPA exam, candidates must take 24 hours of business courses other than accounting.  Within these 24 hours, there must be at least 2 hours of business communications and 3 hours of business ethics.  At Oakton, the business communications can be fulfilled by MGT 118 Effective Management Communications.  The business ethics requirement can be fulfilled by taking either BUS 107 Business Ethics or MGT 276 Corporate Social Responsibility. 

If students still need to take other business courses at Oakton, it is highly recommended that they take BUS 221 and BUS 222, the two business law courses.  These include many topics that are tested on the Regulation section of the CPA exam.  It is also recommended that they take ECO 201 and ECO 202, the two economics classes.  These include some topics that are tested on the Business Environment section of the CPA exam.  Other than that, students can take anything from the following disciplines: Business, Economics, Global Business, Management, or Marketing.

The Illinois Board of Examiners does accept credit from foreign colleges. Please visit www.ilboe.org for further information.

The cost of the transcript evaluation is $225 and as long as you sit for the CPA Exam within three years, you won't need to pay the evaluation fee again. It is highly recommended to have your transcripts evaluated immediately as it will guide your choices of which courses to take when preparing for the CPA Exam. Once you have completed the evaluation, you will be able to contact the Board of Examiners to make sure you do not take any duplicate courses.

In order to represent clients before the IRS, a tax preparer must be an attorney, a CPA, or an IRS Enrolled Agent. The Enrolled Agent designation is made by the IRS for candidates who pass a comprehensive exam offered by the IRS. There is no official education requirement, but it is recommended that students take at least 2 tax courses and an  exam review course in order to prepare for the exam.

At Oakton, we offer ACC 244 and ACC 274 as the two tax courses. After completing these two courses, it is recommended that you complete a test preparation course. Oakton does not offer offer this program. For more information about the IRS Enrolled Agent exam, please visit www.irs.gov and search Enrolled Agent exam.

See table below for course offerings planned for the 2018-2019 school year. Please note that "Every Term" indicates that the course will be offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2019, and Summer 2019.

Course

Des Plaines

Skokie

Online

ACC 153 Financial Accounting

Every term

Every term

Every term

ACC 154 Managerial Accounting

Every term

Every term

Every term

ACC 170 Payroll Tax Accounting

n/a

n/a

Every term

ACC 180 Accounting with Microsoft Excel

n/a

n/a

Every term

ACC 183 QuickBooks Certified User

Fall/Spring

n/a

Every term

ACC 188 Cloud Accounting

n/a

n/a

Fall, Spring

ACC 241 Intermediate I

Fall/Spring

n/a

Every term

ACC 242 Intermediate II

n/a

n/a

Fall, Spring

ACC 243 Accounting Research

n/a

n/a

Every term

ACC 244 Income Taxes

Spring

n/a

Every term

ACC 245 Cost Accounting

n/a

n/a

Spring

ACC 253 Practicum (Independent Study)

by request

by request

n/a

ACC 255 Accounting Careers

Fall

n/a

Spring

ACC 260 Auditing

n/a

n/a

Every term

ACC 266 Advanced Accounting

n/a

n/a

Fall, Spring

ACC 274 Advanced Taxes

Fall

n/a

Fall, Spring

ACC 275 Enrolled IRS Agent (inactive)

n/a

n/a

n/a

Please note that "Every Term" indicates that the course is offered in Fall, Spring and Summer.

ACC 153 and 154 are required by all business programs, and are transferable to almost every four year institution. ACC 241 and ACC 245 transfer to a few institutions. Students should contact the individual institution if they are concerned about transferability of coursework.

For students who are looking for an accounting job or an internship, there are a couple of options:

1. Visit www.collegecentral.com/oakton to find local employers who have posted jobs for community college students. All you need is an e-mail address to enroll. Keep checking every week. There are some weeks with 5 posted jobs and other weeks with 40 posted jobs.

2. Students who are at least in their third accounting course are eligible for Oakton's internship program. See our internship page for more information.

The ACC 253 Practicum course requires that students have employment in the accounting field. Students who already have accounting jobs can use their current employment to meet this requirement.

Job opportunities are increasing. Due to changes in the law companies have more reporting requirements and a need for more accountants.

CPA's are particularly in demand, and "accounting clerk" is among the 50 occupations expected to have the largest number of job openings each year in Illinois.

Accounting work experience is very important, so students are advised to start working an entry-level job as soon as possible. Some students can find work after completion of only ACC 153. Oakton has an internship program for accounting students who are in their third accounting course or later.

The small and mid-sized companies are largely looking for experience and skills, but will hire students with knowledge if they don’t have experience. Employers look for students with good language skills (especially important to be able to talk to clients on the phone), motivation, people skills, and quick learning ability. Candidates looking for an entry level job will find some or all of the following courses very helpful: ACC 153, 170, 180, 183, 244 and 250.

There is also a large demand for tax preparers. Any high school graduate can sit for the IRS Enrolled Agent Exam. Oakton’s Income Tax Preparation Certificate includes ACC 153, 244 and 274, which are good preparatory classes for the exam.

Accounting clerks, assistant accountants, and bookkeepers usually start at $13-$16/hr. for part-time positions, and $30-36,000 with a little experience. With 3-4 years of experience, these same positions may pay from $36-42,000+/yr.

CPAs can expect to start at $48,000-55,000/yr in small firms. Larger firms pay $60,000-75,000+/yr. as starting salaries.

ACC 153 and 154 are the only accounting classes are offered on days, evenings, and online.  All other courses are offered on evenings or online.  See table above for when each class is offered.

ACC 153 Principles of Financial Accounting
ACC 154 Principles of Managerial Accounting
ACC 170 Payroll Tax Accounting
ACC 180 Accounting with Microsoft Excel
ACC 183 QuickBooks Certified User Preparation
ACC 188 Cloud Accounting
ACC 241 Intermediate Accounting I
ACC 242 Intermediate Accounting II
ACC 243 Accounting Research
ACC 244 Income Tax Accounting
ACC 245 Cost Accounting
ACC 255 Careers in Accounting
ACC 260 Auditing
ACC 266 Advanced Accounting
ACC 274 Advanced Tax Accounting

What is ACC 253 Accounting Practicum?
This is an elective course at Oakton where students work in the accounting industry and report back to their instructor.

Does it count as "internship or life experience" credit for the Illinois Board of Examiners?
Yes.  As part of the 30 accounting hours within the education requirements for the CPA exam, candidates are allowed to have up to 3 credit hours for internship or life experience.  ACC 253 will count as these credit hours.

Why kind of job do I need?
This can be a part-time or full-time job at a company or firm where accounting is a main responsibility. The accounting can be in payables, payroll, receivables, general accounting, income taxes, QuickBooks, bank reconciliation, etc. As long as you are getting a real world experience in accounting, it will count.

Does previous work experience count
No. The students needs to be completing this work experience while they are enrolled in the ACC 253 course.

What happens in the Practicum course? Do I need to come to campus?
This course runs as an independent study and there is no weekly face-to-face classroom.  You will meet with you instructor in person or by phone conference several times throughout the term to discuss your progress.

Is there any homework in ACC 253?
There is no textbook and no weekly accounting homework, but there are two projects during the semester.

  • You will need to prepare a top-quality professional resume and cover letter.  It might take several drafts to get this in good shape.
  • You will need to write a 5-page paper.  The goal of this paper is to get students to critically evaluate their own company. Most companies have some flaws in the way they have set up their accounting functions and students will need to make suggestions about how a company can make improvements. The instructor will talk with each student about the needs of their companies to help shape this project.  It can be modified based on each student's situation.

ACC 153- Principles of Financial Accounting and ACC 154
Principles of Managerial Accounting are required by all business schools toward the bachelor's degree in a business-related specialty. These courses will transfer to the 4-year institutions.

ACC 170 - Payroll Tax Accounting
This course teaches a skill critical to every accountant.

ACC 180 - Accounting with Microsoft Excel
Provides an accounting refresher, and then applies Excel functions to various accounting topics, including intermediate level user skills.  Prior knowledge of accounting is required.

ACC 183 - QuickBooks Certified User Preparation
This covers basics for beginners and then takes students through the Certified User exam topics.  Prior knowledge of accounting is required.

ACC 244 - Income Tax Accounting
With only ACC 153, ACC 244 and some business experience, a person could try for an entry-level tax preparation position.

Contact Us

Leslie Van Wolvelear
Chair and student advisor for the Accounting program
847.376.7135
lvanwolv@oakton.edu