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.

10. Fundamental Accounting Principles 23rd Edition

Fundamental Accounting Principles 23rd Edition is aimed at students of any stripe. Whether you are interested in becoming a CPA or simply want to understand what a company’s financial statement means, this is a great introductory option.

  • Helpful for autodidacts
  • Information is laid out well
  • Connect code may not be included

Brand Fundamental Accounting
Model pending
Weight 5.6 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Financial Accounting 12th Edition

Financial Accounting 12th Edition focuses on learning through repetition, which some students can find frustrating. For learners who don’t pick up on everything the first time, though, it’s an invaluable way to cover the topic.

  • Terms are well-organized
  • Many useful appendices
  • Examples seem dated to some

Brand Financial Accounting 12
Model pending
Weight 3.3 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

8. Accounting Made Simple

Mike Piper’s Accounting Made Simple isn’t going to blow the mind of any chief financial officer, but it is helpful for the less business-inclined. It’s meant to provide basic tools for anyone new to the practice or for anyone returning after a significant break.

  • Covers several financial ratios
  • Avoids excessive technical jargon
  • Some concepts are oversimplified

Brand Simple Subjects
Model pending
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

7. Accounting 27th Edition

This Accounting 27th Edition has clearly been though regular updates and corrections by the publisher and authors doing their due diligence. By this point, one can assume they’ve scoured the text with dozens of fine-toothed combs, so you know it’s all in order.

  • Isn’t too heavy to carry
  • Flowcharts are useful
  • Some dislike the practice problems

Brand imusti
Model pending
Weight 6.6 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

6. Barron’s Handbook

Barron’s Handbook is mostly a reference volume for professionals, but engaged students will appreciate it as well. Thanks to its extensive dictionary of relevant terms that spans the whole alphabet, remembering a tricky issue is as easy as pulling it off the shelf.

  • Gaap and ifrs standards are detailed
  • Tax form preparation is covered
  • Lightweight at a touch over 3 pounds

Brand Barron’s Handbook
Model pending
Weight 3.3 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

5. Schaum’s Outline of Principles 5th Edition

Schaum’s Outline of Principles 5th Edition gives a basic overview of some fundamental aspects of the field, but it mostly shines as a workbook. With over 500 practice problems and answers included, it will keep you sharp long into the future.

  • Good addition to a 101-level course
  • Explains concepts like debt recovery
  • Could be organized more cleanly

Brand Schaum’s Outline of Pri
Model pending
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. Advanced Accounting 13th Edition

By the name alone, you should be able to tell that Advanced Accounting 13th Edition isn’t for beginners. Instead of restating key concepts or terminology, it provides context for these, often using historical controversies and their resolutions as examples.

  • Covers international standards
  • Will enhance your vocabulary
  • Ebook has formatting issues

Brand Advanced Accounting 13t
Model pending
Weight 4.3 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

3. Financial Accounting

Spiceland, Thomas, and Herrmann’s Financial Accounting is primarily interested in keeping students engaged in the classroom environment. That means it includes analyses of continuing problems rather than just listing off arbitrary examples.

  • Common mistakes are highlighted
  • Written in a conversational style
  • Glossary for each chapter

Brand Financial Accounting
Model pending
Weight 3.6 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Intermediate Accounting 16th Edition

The information in Intermediate Accounting 16th Edition will be perfect for overcoming the final hurdle on the path to becoming a CPA. Not only does it cover the vast majority of the material on the exam, it’s a comprehensive text in its own right.

  • Content is entirely up to date
  • Strong reference volume for firms
  • Very thorough at over 1500 pages

Brand Kieso Donald E
Weight 6.9 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Managerial Accounting

In Managerial Accounting, the three main functions that managers perform are identified, then everything students need to know for handling these duties is explained at length, although, thankfully, the writing does not feel long-winded or overdone.

  • Established best seller
  • Comes in handy loose leaf format
  • Good refresher for professionals

Brand Managerial Accounting
Model pending
Weight 3.3 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

A Brief History Of Accounting

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.

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.

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.