An accounting degree is typically needed to attain an Associate Accountant job. However, starting positions for individuals with no experience are difficult to find and don't pay much. They do provide work history and knowledge that is helpful for advancement. Nevertheless, I've generally found that the top jobs in corporate finance are held by accountants with many years of experience or CPA licenses -- or both.
Another path for an Associate Accountant is working for a local CPA firm. These places tend to pay more for people with little experience. They sometimes hire people with no experience as long as they have accounting degrees and some tax training. Local practices focus on both tax return preparation and general accounting for their clients.
Proficiency in tax preparation is available without experience by passing the Enrolled Agent exam. This is not a difficult test after taking a good review course. One online course option, which has free sample exam questions, is available at fastforwardacademy.com/enrolled-agent-exam-prep.htm.
An accounting degree combined with Enrolled Agent certification is a solid accountant career alternative to the traditional CPA route.