According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $70,500 in 2018. By comparison, the median earnings for all occupations that year stood at $38,640. Additionally, the BLS projects that accounting jobs will increase by 10% between 2016 and 2026, resulting in roughly 140,000 jobs. Accounting jobs should remain in high demand due to a continuing need for qualified experts to handle complex financial and tax-related matters for organizations and individual clients.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $70,500 in 2018.
Although candidates need a bachelor’s degree for most accounting jobs, the BLS notes that many employers prefer to hire candidates with a master’s degree in accounting or a related field. The master’s can also help employees advance in their careers and increase their salaries. This guide explores potential career pathways for graduates with an accounting master’s degree. Read on to learn more about these master’s in accounting jobs.
What is a Master’s Degree in Accounting?
According to U.S. News & World Report, the master’s in accounting often includes coursework in areas such as financial accounting, business IT, taxation, and statistics. These programs also introduce students to various legal and ethical guidelines related to financial reporting. Unlike the bachelor’s in accounting, master’s programs also focus on academic research related to the profession.
Most programs take students two years or less. However, students who plan to become certified professional accountants (CPAs) may choose a combined bachelor’s and master’s in accounting pathway. These five-year programs help graduates qualify for CPA certification, since many states require CPA candidates to complete at least 30 credits beyond their bachelor’s.
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Top Jobs for Master’s in Accounting Graduates
Below, you’ll find six accounting career opportunities. These roles often require a master’s in accounting or additional work experience beyond the bachelor’s level. Each profile includes a rundown of duties and responsibilities, along with current median salaries.
Corporate controllers manage their organization’s financial and accounting operations, such as billing, accounts, and budgeting. They typically manage a team of personnel and may assist in filing reports with the Securities and Exchanges Commission.
Core Responsibilities: Issue financial statements and budget forecasts, collect on accounts payable, consult with the chief financial officer (CFO) and other executives.
Median Annual Salary: $96,444
Financial controllers oversee the financial operations of their organization, which may include accounting, auditing, and budgeting. They usually report directly to the corporate controller or CFO. Most employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree and extensive experience in the accounting field.
Core Responsibilities: Prepare and submit financial reports, manage employees in financial departments, meet with organizational leaders to discuss financial matters.
Median Annual Salary: $81,813
Senior accountants oversee their organization’s accounting department. They also manage finances for their employer and must ensure all company statements and reports are accurate and up to date. Most senior accountants hold a master’s degree.
Core Responsibilities: Manage junior accountants and other subordinates, meet with executive personnel, review and validate financial statements and reports.
Median Annual Salary: $66,666
Accounting managers develop, test, and evaluate new systems for validating and reporting financial information. They may also prepare budget reports and assist with new employee on-boarding. Qualifications vary by company, but accounting managers typically hold a master’s degree in accounting or finance.
Core Responsibilities: Interview candidates and train new hires, prepare and submit financial reports, manage low-level accounting personnel.
Median Annual Salary: $70,069
Senior Financial Analyst
Senior financial analysts analyze data and calculate risk to complete projects and make financial decisions for their organization. As managerial staff, they may also screen, hire, and train new employees. Most employers prefer to hire senior financial analysts with a master’s degree.
Core Responsibilities: Perform risk assessments based on statistical data, manage mid- and low-level analysts, assist with recruitment and hiring.
Median Annual Salary: $79,447
Senior auditors analyze an organization’s financial records and transactions to ensure everything is accurate and compliant with applicable tax regulations. These professionals typically manage staff auditors and other subordinates. Although senior auditor positions require a bachelor’s degree, most employers prefer candidates with a master’s.
Core Responsibilities: Oversee company audits of financial data, meet with organizational leaders to discuss findings, recruit and hire staff auditors.
Median Annual Salary: $68,726
Tax accountants prepare and file tax documents for individuals or organizations and also meet with clients to discuss and explain complex financial matters. They possess a firm understanding of state and federal tax regulations. A master’s degree in accounting with a concentration in taxation is often preferred.
Core Responsibilities: Prepare and submit tax forms, use strategies that maximize deductions and decrease tax liability, interpret tax laws and regulations.
Median Annual Salary: $56,327
Finance managers oversee their organization’s different departmental budgets. They analyze market data to make forecasts managers consider when making financial decisions. Many companies hire finance managers with a master’s degree in accounting, along with a CPA certification.
Core Responsibilities: Meet with organizational leaders to discuss budgetary spending, write and submit budget reports for different departments, manage other financial personnel.
Median Annual Salary: $90,044
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