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The Truth About A WCC Certificate

Yesterday, I wrote about what I see as deception on the Washtenaw Community College website. WCC could have taken the high road when describing its occupational programs and what students could expect to earn upon graduation. It didn’t. Instead, the WCC website muddles the utility of the student’s WCC certificate or degree by sorta-kinda associating a WCC certificate or degree with a completely different career track with entirely different educational and experiential requirements.

I’m not sure who this fan dance helps, other than the WCC administration. What else can you do when you don’t create and maintain occupational programs that open doors to the middle class?

Suggestions for rewriting an Academic Pathway

If the WCC website were truthful about the value of the Accounting for Business certificate (and the dozens and dozens of other certificate/degree programs on its books), the truth would look something like this.

“This certificate program prepares students for entry-level positions such as a bookkeeper or accounting clerk with accounting and tax services, CPA firms, and small businesses. They will provide accounting skills, computer skills, and office support. It also gives students credit that can be applied toward the associate degree in accounting.”

The average income for all bookkeepers in the Ann Arbor Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is $45,200. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, total employment for bookkeepers in the Ann Arbor MSA is 1,290.

Earnings by percentile 10th 25th 50th 75th 90th
Hourly $14.54 $18.19 $22.55 $23.51 $29.14
Annual $30,240 $37,840 $46,910 $48,890 $60,610

The lowest-paid bookkeepers in this area earn slightly more than $30,000; the highest-paid bookkeepers earn about $61,000. Entry-level bookkeepers are more likely to have lower salaries than bookkeepers with more experience.

According to the State of Michigan, there is a total projected annual need for 4,260 Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks between now and 2030. The field itself is not growing. That is, employers are not seeking to add more bookkeepers. But they do need to replace bookkeepers who are retiring or otherwise leaving the workforce.

What can you do with this WCC Certificate?

As a bookkeeper, your next step in your career path could include earning an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. The BLS indicates that a Bachelor’s Degree is the preferred entry-level educational requirement for an Accountant or Auditor.

For accountants in Ann Arbor, MI, the income potential is currently:

Earnings by percentile 10th 25th 50th 75th 90th
Hourly $23.44 $29.44 $36.76 $46.43 $50.71
Annual $48,760 $60,820 $76,450 $96,570 $105,470

According to the State of Michigan, there is a total projected annual need for 3,510 Accountants and Auditors between now and 2030. The field itself is growing very slightly. That is, Michigan employers are primarily replacing accountants and auditors who are leaving the field, but they are expected to add a very small number (about 30) brand new accountant/auditor positions each year.

See? That’s the truth about this particular certificate program. The truthful approach gives people the information they need to make decisions that may define their careers.

And as it turns out, being truthful is just not that hard.

Photo Credit: Brett Jordan , via Flickr