Salary Outlook with MBA Finance vs Accounting

Created by Henry Steele

By Henry Steele - April 15, 2018
Reading Time: 6 minutes
Reading Time: 6 minutes

The US economy is looking strong as interest rates are rising and unemployment is low. Thus it is unsurprising that the outlook in the business, finance and accounting fields is looking up. The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS states employment in business and financial occupations will rise by 10% by 2026 – faster than average. The total number of jobs to be added by that year add up to 773,800. It is expected that a growing world economy, globalization and a more complicated regulatory and tax environment will lead to more need for finance and accounting professionals.

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If you want to earn a good salary in growing fields, getting an MBA in finance or accounting could be a wise choice.

Below are careers that you may find desirable with a background in either accounting or finance in your MBA program.

Accounting MBA Overview

An accounting MBA will provide you with the skills and background to work in many accounting-related professions, including accountant, auditor, controller and related positions. The curriculum in this major will include financial reporting, taxes and related topics.

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According to, average salaries for positions with an MBA in accounting include:

  • Senior accountant: $64,800
  • Staff accountant: $48,400
  • Accountant: $51,000
  • Financial controller: $82,790
  • Accounting manager: $72,000
  • Corporate controller: $95,500
  • Financial analyst: $60,700

Below are more details about the most common occupations you can attain with an MBA in accounting:

Public Accountant

Public accountants with an MBA perform many types of auditing, tax, consulting and accounting tasks. Their most common clients include corporations, governments and private individuals. These accountants work with complex financial documents that their clients must disclose by law. Some of these include balance sheets and tax forms that companies must give to all people and entities who may invest in the company.

Many public accountants are what are known as Certified Public Accountants or CPAs. They may have their own private business or work for a public accounting company. Publicly traded companies must have CPAs review and sign all documents that are submitted to the SEC, such as annual and quarterly reports.

Some public accountants have specialties in forensic accounting, and they investigate complex financial crimes, including embezzlement, securities fraud, contract disputes and bankruptcies.

Employment for public accountants and CPAs will rise by 10% by 2026, as a growing economy and a more complicated regulatory and tax environment will lead to more demand for these professionals.

The median salary for all accountants was $68,000 in 2016, with those with an MBA and CPA status earning up to $120,000 per year.

Managerial Accountant

These types of accountants, most often with an MBA in accounting, may be referred to as cost, managerial, corporate or private accountants. They are responsible for recording and analyzing the financial data for the companies for which they work or are contracted. Most of the information that management accountants prepare is used by business managers inside the firm and not by the public.

Many management accountants work on performance evaluation and budgeting. Some many help plan the cost of the company doing business in the future. Some also work in partnership with financial managers on managing assets; this involves planning and choosing financial investments for the client, such as stocks and bonds. states that management accountants earn an average salary of $111,320 per year, and job demand will rise by 10% through 2026.

Tax Examiner and Collector

Tax examiners and collectors work most often with state, local and federal government to determine how much people and organizations owe in taxes. They review their tax returns, do audits, determine taxes that are owed and collect overdue tax payments.

They are responsible for ensure that people and businesses pay the taxes owed per laws and regulations. These professionals also verify that all tax forms have been filed correctly and they follow up with some taxpayers who owe more money.

You may work on collecting different types of taxes. The US government deals with personal and business income taxes. State governments collect sales and income taxes, and local governments collect property and sales taxes.

Many professionals with an accounting degree may work for private organizations as accountants, and eventually move into government and work on the tax examiner and collector side. The median salary in this field is $52,000 with the top 10% with advanced degrees earning $97,400 per year.


A controller is an accounting professional, often with an advanced degree, who is accountable for the accounting functions of a small, medium or large sized company. Basic duties of the controller include production of financial reports, maintaining accounting records, and keeping a complete set of controls and budgets that can mitigate risk. These professionals of accounting also enhance there is accuracy in the reporting of financial results to shareholders and tax authorities.

According to, a controller with an MBA in accounting can earn up to $197,000 per year.

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Finance MBA Overview

An MBA in finance is the standard background for upper level management professionals in the finance and banking industries. An MBA in finance will arm you with information about portfolio management, investing, marketing and financial accountability. According to, below are common average salaries for people with this advanced degree:

  • Financial analyst: $66,200
  • Portfolio manager: $100,700
  • Director of operations: $99,500
  • Senior finance manager: $107,000
  • Finance director: $116,000
  • Senior financial analyst: $82,100

Below are common professions for professionals with an MBA in finance:

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts are in charge of giving detailed financial guidance to individuals and businesses that make critical investment decisions. They are responsible for assessing the performance of stocks, bonds and various other investments. As they are evaluating investment opportunities of all kinds, they are commonly employed in banks, pension funds, mutual funds, securities firms and insurance companies.

See More on Financial Analyst Salary

A financial analyst with an MBA in finance will usually work in one of two categories:

  • Buy side analyst: They develop investment strategies for firms that have a lot of capital to invest. These firms also are known as institutional investors and can include hedge funds, insurance companies and money management firms.
  • Sell side analyst: Advise financial services agents to sell stocks, bonds and other types of investments to consumers

Other types of financial analysts include fund managers, portfolio managers, ratings analysts and risk analysts.

The outlook for jobs for financial analysts is good at 11% growth through 2026. The median salary in the field is $81,000 with the top 10% with MBAs and the most experience earning $165,000.

Financial Manager

Financial managers are responsible for the general financial health of the company or organization. They are responsible for writing financial reports, directing investments, and devising plans and strategies for the long term financial goals for the firm.

See More on Finance Manager Salary

If you are considering this position with an MBA, it is key to know that the responsibilities of financial managers are changing as technology advances mean financial managers do not need to spend as much time on doing financial reports. Today, financial managers focus more on data analysis and business analytics. Their main job is to advise managers on how they can increase profits and drop costs.

Different types of financial managers across organizations can include credit managers, risk managers, treasurers, finance officers, credit managers and cash managers.

Financial managers with an MBA will see strong increase in demand with 19% growth through 2026. The median salary in this field is $121,000 with the top 10% with the most education and experience earning more than $200,000 per year.


Actuaries perform analysis of the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. They are experts in the use of statistics, mathematics and financial theory to assess the risk of various financial events. They also assist businesses and clients to develop policies that reduce the cost of risk. The work of actuaries is especially important for the insurance industry.

Most of the work done in the actuarial business today is done with software and computers. Actuaries are experts in the use of software to compile vital information. They utilize statistics and modeling software to forecast the chances that something will occur and what the costs of that event would be.

Actuaries can have a background in statistics, finance, accounting or a combination. The majority of these professionals with an MBA work with insurance companies as they design policies and help to determine what premiums will be.

Different types of actuaries today include health insurance, life insurance, property and casualty and pension and retirement benefit actuaries.

The job outlook for actuaries is excellent through 2026 with 22% increase in demand expected. The median salary in the field is $100,600 with the top 10% earning up to $186,000.

MBA in Accounting or MBA in Finance?

Both career paths offer strong growth and good salaries. If you have a specific interest in accounting, you may want to earn the MBA in that field. Accounting professionals tend to be focused heavily on accounting work, wherever they work and whichever industry it is in. The accounting MBA is definitely the right choice for those who want to become CPAs. Earning your MBA in this field will qualify you to sit for the CPA exam.

On the other hand, MBA in finance majors can have a wider variety of finance related roles and their work will tend to be less focused on accounting functions in their day to day tasks.


Henry Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

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