Accounting Major Learning Outcomes

The Accounting program-specific competencies have been adapted from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Core Competency Framework. These are among the skills and personal attributes you should acquire upon successful completion of Champlain College's Accounting degree program.

Functional Competencies

Decision Modeling — Individuals preparing to enter the accounting profession must be able to use strategic and critical approaches to decision-making. They must objectively consider issues, identify alternatives and choose and implement solution approaches in order to deliver services and provide value.

Risk Analysis — Risk analysis and control is fundamental to professional service delivery. The identification and management of audit risk (that is, the risk that the auditor will fail to detect a misstatement, caused by inadvertent error or fraud, that is, material to financial statements) is the basis for the conduct of a GAAS audit. The understanding of business risk (that is, the risk that an entity—either a client or the prospective accounting professional's employer—will fail to achieve its objectives) affects how business strategy is created and implemented.

Measurement — Measures used should be both relevant (that is, bear on the decision to be made) and reliable (consistently measure what they purport to measure). Various measurement and disclosure criteria used by accounting professionals—such as GAAP, OCBOA (Other Comprehensive Basis of Accounting) and tax reporting —have been codified to some degree. Other performance measures (such as Economic Value Added) or stated criteria (for example, investment performance) are used for special purposes. Some measurement criteria (such as effectiveness of internal control) are measured qualitatively, rather than quantitatively.

Reporting — Communicating the scope of work and findings or recommendations is an integral part of a professional service. An accounting professional in public practice might issue an audit or attestation report, recommendations for improved services, or tax or financial planning advice. An accounting professional in business, industry or government might analyze operations or provide communications to the board of directors. Communicating clearly and objectively the work done and the resulting findings is critical to the value of the professional service. Some forms of communication are governed by professional standards (such as the form and content of the standard auditor's report or the required communications to audit committees) or law. Others are based on the service applied and the needs of those to whom the accounting professional reports.

Research — Although accounting professionals need a foundation in standards and other relevant rules, such guidance is constantly evolving. Many accounting profession functions depend on obtaining information from within and outside of an entity. Accordingly, the individual preparing to enter the accounting profession needs to have strong research skills to access relevant guidance or other information, understand it and apply it.

Leverage Technology to Develop and Enhance Functional Competencies — Technology is pervasive in the accounting profession. Individuals entering the accounting profession must acquire the necessary skills to use technology tools effectively and efficiently. These technology tools can be used both to develop and apply other functional competencies.

Broad Business Perspective Competencies

Strategic/Critical Thinking — Critical thinking encompasses the ability to link data, knowledge and insight together from various disciplines to provide information for decision-making. Being in tune with the "big picture" perspective is a necessary component for success. Individuals entering the accounting profession should be able to communicate to others the vision, strategy, goals, and culture of organizations.

Industry/Sector Perspective — Individuals entering the accounting profession should be able to identify (through research and analysis) the economics accounting and broad business financial risks and opportunities of the industry and economic sector in which a given organization operates. Identification of these risks and opportunities should include both issues specific to the enterprise, as well as those pervasive throughout the industry/sector.

International/Global Perspective — Individuals entering the accounting profession should be able to identify and communicate the variety of threats and opportunities of doing business in a borderless world. The accounting professional of the future must provide services to support and facilitate commerce in the global marketplace.

Resource Management — The ability to appreciate the importance of all resources (human, financial, physical, and environmental, etc.) is critical for success. Individuals entering the accounting profession should be able to apply management and human resources development theories to human resource issues and organizational problems. Individuals preparing to enter the accounting profession should be able to identify sources of capital, and analyze the impact of participation in the global capital markets.

Legal/Regulatory Perspective — Regulatory forces are being shaped by collaboration, migration and reform as the various stakeholders globalize, share information and force their particular needs and viewpoints onto political agendas. Individuals preparing to enter the accounting profession need to be capable of describing the legal and regulatory environment and analyzing the impact of changes in relevant requirements, constraints, and competitive practices.

Marketing/Client Focus — Individuals who are marketing- and client-focused are better able to anticipate and meet the changing needs of clients, employers, customers and markets. This involves both the ability to recognize market needs and the ability to develop new markets.

Leverage Technology to Develop and Enhance a Broad Business Perspective — Technology alters how organizations operate. To provide the greatest value, today's accounting professional must understand and appreciate the effects of technology on the broader business environment.

Personal Competencies

Professional Demeanor — The accounting profession is committed to maintaining a public reputation for excellence in the performance of important roles in business and society. Individuals entering the accounting profession should behave in a manner that is consistent with the character and standards of the discipline of accounting, as well as the norms of the environment in which they interact. This competency involves demonstrating objectivity, integrity and ethical behavior. It also includes a commitment to stable work performance, as well as a commitment to continuously acquire new skills and knowledge.

Problem Solving and Decision Making — Accounting professionals are often asked to discern the true nature of a situation and then determine the principles and techniques needed to solve problems or make judgments. Thus, individuals entering the accounting profession should display effective problem solving and decision-making skills, good insight and judgment, as well as innovative and creative thinking.

Interaction — Accounting professionals must be able to work with others to accomplish objectives. This requires them to act as valuable business partners within organizations and markets and work in teams to provide business solutions. Thus, individuals entering the accounting profession should demonstrate an ability to work productively with individuals in a myriad of roles and with varying interests in the outcome.

Leadership — Individuals entering the accounting profession should be able to effectively lead in appropriate circumstances. This involves acquiring the skills needs to influence, inspire and motivate individuals and groups to achieve results.

Communication — Accounting professionals are called upon to communicate financial and non-financial information so that it is understood by individuals with diverse capabilities and interests. Individuals entering the accounting profession should have the skills necessary to give and exchange information within a meaningful context and with appropriate delivery. They should have the ability to listen, deliver powerful presentations and produce examples of effective business writing.

Project Management — Accounting professionals must successfully manage a diversity of projects throughout their career. Individuals entering the accounting profession should demonstrate the ability to effectively control the course of a multi-dimensional, multi-step undertaking. This includes managing project assets, including human, financial, property and technical resources.

Leverage Technology to Develop and Enhance Personal Competencies — Technological adaptability is a requirement for today's accounting professional. As technology advances, the accounting professional must acquire new skills and determine how new technologies should be best incorporated into their practices. This commitment to continual technological learning will enhance the development and application of other personal competencies.