Masters in Accounting vs Finance Salary

Created by Henry Steele

By Henry Steele - November 14, 2017
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The business and financial fields are seeing dynamic growth in recent years. Government statistics show that all business and financial occupations are projected to experience 9% growth from 2016 to 2026. This is above average growth, and some specific occupations in accounting and finance will see even stronger growth.

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For example, accountants and auditors will see 10% job growth in that time frame, and financial analysts can look forward to 11% growth.

Professionals who want to have many good-paying accounting degree opportunities in the coming decade can select either accounting or finance roles. Therefore, you will need to decide if you want to get your master’s degree in accounting or master’s degree in finance. Both degree options offer you the opportunity to earn a good salary in different occupations.

Master’s in Accounting Salary

A master’s in accounting (MACC) degree will offer you a strong foundation in accounting for a variety of high-paying accounting careers. This degree is usually the choice for professionals who want to work as accountants, auditors, forensic accountants, actuaries, bookkeepers or tax advisors.

Below are some of the occupations and salaries that you can expect with a master’s in accounting:


An accountant is a professional who keeps and tracks financial and tax records. Accountants ensure that all financial records for a person or organization are accurate and that all taxes have been paid on a timely basis. Accountants regularly assess financial operations for an organization and ensure that the company or entity is operated in an efficient fashion.

There are several types of accountants:

  • Public accountants: They perform many types of auditing, tax, accounting and consulting jobs. Their top clients can consist of individuals, corporations and governments. These accountants work with financial documents that their clients must disclose by federal law, which include balance sheet statements and tax forms. Most public accountants are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs0.
  • Management accountants: These are also referred to as cost, industrial, managerial or private accountants. They record and analyze tax and financial information for the company that they work for. They often work on performance evaluation and budgeting.
  • Government accountants: They are responsible for maintaining and examining financial and tax records for government agencies. They also may audit private individuals and businesses that are subject to taxation and government regulation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median salary for all accountants in 2016 was $68,150. The top 10% earned in excess of $120,000 per year. BLS does not state it specifically, but those who are in the highest median salary bracket most likely are accountants with their master’s degree and many probably are CPAs.

Below are median salaries for accountants by major industries:

  • Finance and insurance: $72,900
  • Management of enterprise sand companies; $70,700
  • Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping: $68,100
  • Government: $65,800

For comparison’s sake, reports that the median salary for CPAs is $62,400 per year.  US News and World Report states that the median salary for all accountants is $67,190.

Budget Analyst

Another common occupation for professionals with a master’s degree in accounting is budget analyst. These budget analysts assist public and private organizations to organize their money and finances. They are responsible for preparing budget reports and monitoring how the organization spends its money.

Budget analysts may advise various types of institutions, such as businesses, governments and universities on financial management. They are responsible for preparing special reports and evaluating annual budget proposals. They also may analyze data to determine what the costs and benefits are for a variety of programs. Budget analysts also recommend funding levels that are based upon their research. Government officials or senior executives often make financial decisions for the organization, they typically will rely on the findings of the budget analyst to give them information for making these critical decisions.

The median salary for budget analysts according to BLS is $73,800. The top 10% earn a salary of $111,400. The breakdown for salaries by industry is as follows:

  • Scientific, technical and professional services: $81,500
  • Federal government: $78,700
  • Local government: $69,400
  • Educational services: $64,800 reports that the median salary for budget analysts is $54,661.

Other Master’s in Accounting Salaries

Other median salaries for master’s of accounting holders according to are:

  • Staff accountant: $50,500
  • Senior accountant: $66,200
  • Accountant: $51,300
  • Assistant controller: $86,200
  • Senior internal auditor: $74,400
  • Accounting manager: $78,000
  • Financial controller: $81,700
  • CPA: $60,800
  • Chief financial officer: $121,000

Master’s in Finance Salary

A master’s in finance is often the best option for professionals who want to enjoy careers as financial consultants, personal finance advisors, financial managers, insurance officers or investment bankers.

Below are salaries that you may expect with a master’s degree in finance:


An actuary is a finance professional who analyzes the financial costs of uncertainty and risk in business situations. Actuaries use statistics, mathematics and financial theory to assess risks of potential events. Their work assists businesses in making policies that reduce the cost and impact of risk. Actuary work is essential for the proper function of the insurance industry. Most actuaries have a background that is strong in finance, mathematics, and business. See 10 best Online actuarial science degree programs.

Actuaries do most or all of the following:

  • Compile statistical data and related information for analysis
  • Estimate the chances and the economic costs of events such as sickness, death, accident or natural disaster
  • Test, design and administer investments, insurance policies, pension plans etc to reduce risk and increase profits

Most actuaries work in one of the following industries:

  • Health insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Property and casualty
  • Pension and retirement
  • Enterprise risk

The median salary for actuaries according to BLS data is $100,600. The top 10% earn more than $186,000 per year. Median salaries by industry are:

  • Professional, technical and scientific services: $104,500
  • Finance and insurance: $101,000
  • Government: $95,500
  • Management of enterprises and companies: $93,300

The Society of Actuaries and Casualty Actuary Society states that experienced actuaries can earn $150,000 to $250,000 per year.  See 10 top online finance MBA programs.

Financial Manager

Financial managers are responsible for the financial oversight of a business or organization. They make financial reports, direct how investments are made, and develop financial strategies and plans to enhance the long term financial goals of the organization. Common duties are:

  • Preparing financial statements, forecasts and business reports
  • Monitoring the many financial details of the company to ensure that all legal requirements have been met
  • Supervise employees who do budgeting and financial reporting
  • Conduct reviews of financial reports to see how costs can be reduced
  • Perform market analysis to increase profits and determine best places for expansion

Some of the most common types of financial managers are:

  • Controllers: Direct how financial reports are prepared and summarize the financial position of the organization
  • Treasurers and finance officers: Direct the budget of the organization to meet financial goals
  • Credit managers: Oversee the credit business of the organization
  • Cash managers: Control and monitor the cash flow of the company to meet investment and business goals
  • Risk managers: Control financial risks by utilizing strategies to reduce the chance of financial loss

BLS reports the median salary for financial managers was $121,700 in 2016. The top 10% could earn a salary of $208,000. The industry breakdown was as follows:

  • Professional, scientific and technical services: $142,000
  • Management of enterprises and companies: $140,000
  • Manufacturing: $121,000
  • Finance and insurance: $117,800
  • Government: $109,000 reports that the median salary for all finance managers is $116,500.

Other Master’s in Finance Salaries reports the following median salaries for professionals with a master’s degree in finance:


Both a master’s in accounting and master’s in finance degree will provide you with ample job opportunities with a strong possibility for a good salary and future growth potential.

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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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