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Accountants in the federal executive branch make more than $100,000 per year, while accountants in the financial investments sector earn about $97,000 annually.
Earning a master’s in taxation can lead to careers with high salaries and excellent job growth potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for accountants and auditors is $70,500. However, accounting professionals in certain industries earn well above the median income for the profession. Accountants in the federal executive branch make more than $100,000 per year, while accountants in the financial investments sector earn about $97,000 annually. The BLS projects job opportunities for accountants and auditors to increase 10% from 2016-2026, which translates to about 139,900 new positions.
Unlike general master’s in accounting programs, taxation programs provide specialized knowledge and skills regarding tax regulations at the local, state, and federal levels. A master’s in taxation prepares students to pursue roles outside the traditional accounting field. This guide includes information about salary expectations, jobs, and coursework for graduates of master’s taxation programs.
Common Career Paths
For professionals with a master’s in taxation, salary potential varies by position. Graduates of master’s in taxation programs often pursue jobs in fields such as corporate accounting, financial planning, and government accounting. Below are some common taxation career paths, along with job descriptions and median salaries.
Tax accountants prepare and file tax documents for private companies, individuals, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. They advise clients on ways to reduce tax payments and minimize liability. These professionals recommend taxation strategies and make sure that clients follow tax regulations. They also serve as a point of contact for auditors and regulatory bodies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Tax accountants earn an average annual salary of $56,261, according to PayScale, but experienced professionals typically earn more. Entry-level tax accountants earn approximately $51,000 per year, while professionals with 20 years of experience earn about $69,000 per year. A master’s degree can also help tax accountants earn higher salaries. Senior tax accountants with a master of taxation earn an average salary of more than $73,000 per year, according to PayScale, while tax accountants with a bachelor’s degree earn an average annual salary of about $57,000.
Like tax accountants, tax analysts work primarily with tax-related documents. Tax analysts review tax documents to ensure that their organization complies with regulations. However, tax analysts’ responsibilities focus on the analytical side of accounting. These professionals carry out internal audits, analyze company data, and develop tax strategies based on their conclusions. They look for ways to save money and minimize risk and then produce reports for executives. Analysts use spreadsheet tools to track transactions and analyze financial information.
Tax analysts earn an average annual salary of $58,553, according to PayScale, and professionals with a master’s degree generally earn higher salaries. Tax analysts with a master’s in taxation earn an average salary of about $60,000 per year, while senior tax analysts earn an average annual salary of $88,790.
Financial Planning Consultant
Financial planning professionals advise clients on a variety of financial topics, including investments, savings, estate planning, taxes, and retirement. While most financial planners help customers manage all of their finances, graduates of master’s in taxation programs might specialize in helping their clients navigate tax laws.
Financial planning analysts meet with clients to learn about their financial goals, answer questions, help clients create plans, and recommend certain types of accounts or investments. They also watch clients’ accounts and make adjustments based on financial performance or unforeseen changes.
Tax managers direct all tax-related activities in an organization. They assist with complex financial situations such as mergers, acquisitions, and initial public offerings. These professionals make sure that all financial transactions are adequately documented and that their company complies with local, state, and federal tax codes.
Tax managers with a master’s degree tend to earn slightly more than bachelor’s degree holders in the profession. According to PayScale, tax managers earn an average salary of $96,214 per year. Tax managers with a master’s in taxation earn an average of $97,587 annually, while those with a bachelor’s in accounting earn an average of $95,354 per year. As with many financial professions, pay for tax managers often increases with experience. Tax managers with 20 or more years of experience earn an average annual salary of $103,000.
To further increase their earning potential, tax managers can pursue roles as financial managers who coordinate all of an organization’s financial activities. Financial managers earn a median annual salary of $127,990, according to the BLS.
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Master’s in Taxation
This section offers an in-depth look at master’s in taxation programs and covers typical courses, costs, and requirements associated with the degree. The information in the following sections can help you decide whether a master’s in taxation fits your interests and career goals.
What to Expect
Each program has unique admission standards, courses, costs, and credit requirements. Nevertheless, this section provides a general overview of what to expect from master’s in taxation programs.
Master’s programs in taxation can cost anywhere from $30,000-$100,000, with many factors impacting the total price of the degree. Public universities tend to be more affordable than private schools. Some institutions charge a flat per-credit rate, meaning that all students pay the same tuition, regardless of how long they take to earn the degree. Most taxation master’s programs comprise 30-45 credits and take 1-3 years to complete.
Most programs require applicants to submit GRE or GMAT scores and undergraduate transcripts. Applicants often need at least a 3.0 GPA and work experience.
Curricula for master’s in taxation degrees differ slightly, but most programs build similar knowledge in areas including tax laws and accounting principles.
Tax Rules and Regulations: Master’s degrees in accounting and taxation cover tax regulations at the local, state, and federal levels. Learners study the rules that apply to various types of enterprises, transactions, and business partnerships. Graduates need a strong command of tax law in order to advise their employers and properly file financial documents.
Communication Skills: Accounting programs teach students to clearly convey complex tax concepts, both orally and through writing. Tax professionals must be able to describe any issues they encounter, along with solutions to those problems. They may need to justify their decisions to upper management verbally and through written reports.
Tax Procedures: Tax managers, analysts, and accountants must fully master tax procedures. Taxation programs help students learn about the procedures through which taxpayers interact with major tax-collecting bodies. Learners examine the roles of the IRS, the Tax Division of the Department of Justice, and the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility.
Ethical and Legal Aspects of Taxation: Students in taxation programs learn to approach legal and moral challenges in the fields of taxation and business. Students explore ethical standards and professional responsibility in the taxation profession. They may study research on ethics and explore resources that help professionals navigate difficult situations.
Analysis and Critical Thinking: Taxation students develop research, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills. Tax professionals, especially tax analysts, must be able to examine financial documents, identify problem areas, and propose solutions. Master’s in taxation graduates may also need to analyze market conditions and tax codes.
Students pursuing a master’s in taxation may take different courses depending on their school and elective choices. Below are some common classes for learners in taxation programs.
Master’s in taxation programs generally cover corporate taxation as part of core coursework. Students in this course learn about business organizations, tax accounting, and corporate transactions. They explore the taxation of transactions, including dividends, distributions, liquidations, and incorporations. This course also covers income tax problems that corporations commonly encounter.
Most taxation programs require a class on partnerships taxation, one of the most common flow-through entities in modern business. Students learn about the purpose, formation, operation, and termination of business partnerships, including family partnerships. Learners explore partnership-related tax issues concerning partnership liquidation, sales of interests, and distributions.
This core course examines the tax codes that apply when an individual or an entity transfers property and wealth. Students learn about topics including state tax deductions, gift tax deductions and exclusions, and the marital deduction. Additionally learners explore ways to plan for wealth transfer taxes.
Programs often offer a class in international taxation as an elective. The course explores how U.S. tax codes apply in two scenarios: foreign nationals conducting business in the U.S. and U.S. citizens operating abroad. Course topics include foreign holding companies, indirect tax credit, and controlled corporations.
Some programs offer an elective in personal financial planning. This course prepares future tax professionals to advise individuals on investing money and accumulating wealth. Students learn about capital markets, risk analysis, asset allocation, and portfolio management. They may also study the techniques of successful investors.
Students researching master’s in taxation programs should only consider accredited universities and colleges. Accreditation indicates that a school offers high-quality academic programs; accredited schools must undergo regular evaluations by independent organizations.
Additionally, the accreditation status of a student’s institution impacts their ability to transfer schools, obtain financial aid, and earn industry certifications. Accredited schools typically only accept transfer credits from other accredited institutions, and many scholarships and grants only fund students at accredited colleges. Many professional organizations require candidates for certification to hold an accredited degree.
The types of accreditation in the U.S. include national, regional, and programmatic accreditation. National accreditation typically applies to vocational schools, while regional accrediting bodies evaluate community colleges, liberal arts colleges, and universities.
Students should prioritize schools that hold regional accreditation, since many graduate schools and scholarship programs only consider applicants who attend or graduated from a regionally accredited institution. Regional accreditation requires institutions to meet high standards and is more prestigious than national accreditation. Regional accrediting bodies include the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the Higher Learning Commission, and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
In addition to institutional accreditation, students can look for field-specific accreditation that applies to specific departments or programs. Learners pursuing a master’s in accounting or taxation may prioritize programs with accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
After earning their master’s in taxation, individuals can pursue a variety of career paths and additional credentials. Below are common options for graduates.
Enter the Workforce
A taxation master’s degree qualifies graduates to pursue taxation-related jobs in a variety of industries. Many companies, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations hire accountants to interpret complex tax codes and file financial documents. Taxation professionals may work within an organization, for an accounting firm, or independently.
Professional certifications can help taxation graduates impress employers, demonstrate expertise, and secure specialized positions. For example, accountants who file reports with the SEC must become certified public accountants through their state’s certification board. Master’s in taxation degree holders can also pursue certification in management accounting, tax coaching, and auditing.
Pursue a Ph.D.
Some master’s degree holders pursue a doctoral degree immediately after earning their master’s or after gaining some experience in the field. A Ph.D. in accounting or taxation can lead to academic positions at colleges and universities. Students interested in research and teaching often earn a doctorate in the field.