Should I Get a Masters in Accounting Degree?

By Henry R. Steele - October 24, 2018
Reading Time: 4 minutes

In most business fields, the professional with the most experience and education tends to get a higher salary and more promotions. This is true in the accounting field. The profession already has good salary and promotion potential for holder’s of a bachelor’s degree in accounting; the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median salary for accountants in 2017 was $69,300. With a master’s degree in accounting, there are even more exciting and lucrative job opportunities.

Below are some of the reasons you may consider getting your Master’s in Accounting (MAcc) degree.

Overview of Master of Accounting Degree

The MAcc is designed to prepare students for advanced accounting and consulting careers, with advanced training in corporate, financial and tax accounting. The program typically takes one to two years to complete and serves as a strong foundation for earning your Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification that is essential to work in public accounting.

Typical accounting courses you will take in a master’s program are:

  • Advanced Accounting
  • Advanced Federal Taxation
  • Accounting Theory and Institution
  • Principles of Auditing
  • Audit Simulation
  • Business Law
  • Accounting Information Systems
  • Communication Skills for the Accounting Profession

Having your MAcc will give you a higher level of skills that can be critical to moving higher in the accounting management profession. Some of the other reasons to consider this advanced degree include the following:

High Pay for Accountants With Education and Experience

As noted earlier, the median salary for accountants according to BLS data is $69,300, with the following salaries in these popular industries:

  • Finance and insurance: $74,100
  • Management of companies and enterprises: $72,100
  • Accounting, tax preparation and bookkeeping: $69,400
  • Government: $67,100

But BLS data also indicates that the more experienced and educated accountants earn more, with the 10% earning $122,200 per year.

Also, Payscale.com reports the following salaries for a professional with a MAcc degree:

  • Senior accounting: $65,200
  • Accounting manager: $76,600
  • Financial controller: $82,500
  • CPA: $60,200
  • Corporate controller: $99,000
  • CFO: $128,500
  • Tax manager: $93,000
  • Senior financial analyst: $77,400

For a professional with a bachelor’s in accounting, there are generally lower level accounting positions and salaries available:

  • Staff accountant: $48,100
  • Senior accounting: $64,000
  • Accountant: $49,400
  • Tax accountant: $45,6000

Superior Training for CPA Exam

The MAcc degree is the primary way that students prepare for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensing examination. For most states, it is strongly recommended to earn your master’s in accounting to prepare for this rigorous test. You must have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a total 150 semester hours of formal education in accounting and business to sit for the exam. Many undergraduate in accounting programs do not have sufficient background to work in public accounting today due to these reasons:

  • Increases in official accounting and auditing pronouncements and the abundance of new tax laws that greatly expand the knowledge base that professional accountants need.
  • Business methods are more complex than in the past. The higher number of regulations from state, federal and local governments requires well-educated accountants to ensure compliance for individuals and organizations. Also, technology improvements have had a big effect on internal control procedures, auditing methods and information systems design.
  • Staffing needs of accounting companies that employ CPAs are changing fast. With more sophisticated audits taking place, and more demands for technical accounting services and better audit efficiency, the requirements for accounting professional practice have increased significantly.

After you earn your MAcc, you still may need to gain a few years of accounting experience to sit for this crucial examination.

More MAcc Holders Being Hired in Booming Economy

US News and World Report noted recently in a survey of 565 employers from around the world that 45% were intending to hire a master of accounting graduate this year. This was a survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council. In the previous year, only 36% of employers were going to hire a professional with this degree.

See also Masters in Accounting vs MBA in Accounting Degree

Different Educational Options Available

One of the benefits of this degree is there is not simply one master’s degree available. Some universities offer two master’s in accounting programs that are designed for different students. For example:

  • Master of Science in Accounting: Designed for the student who has completed a bachelor’s degree in accounting and wants to work in the public accounting sector with a CPA.
  • Master of Accounting: More tailored to undergraduates who earned a general business or liberal arts degree, or professionals who have been employed in accounting for several years.

Whether you have a background in accounting or not, you have options available to earn your master’s degree in this growing field. Note today maybe online education programs offer graduate accounting degrees without the GRE or GMAT.

Enjoy a Long-Lasting Career

Yahoo! Education recently ranked accounting careers as one of the top careers in terms of duration. Yahoo! Noted that companies large and small, nonprofits, government agencies and private citizens need help to keep their financial accounts in order. Thus, accounting graduates with a master’s degree are going to be prepared for a career with a long shelf life and high demand level.

Yahoo! Education also noted as of 2011 that accounting graduates led all other fields as far as receiving full-time job offers before graduation.

Develop More Expertise

Having a MAcc can certainly help you if you are going into certain specializations of accounting. For instance, having this advanced degree can help you to be of service to government sector organizations with policies that affect public taxes.

Further specialization with your advanced degree can send you into such roles as financial vice president, treasurer, or controller.

Good Background for an Executive Position

If your goal is to eventually become the leader of a company, you are making a good choice to earn a master’s degree in accounting. The financial and accounting tools and skills you learn in such a master’s program is an excellent foundation for becoming a chief executive officer or chief financial officer for a large organization.

According to RobertHalf.com, one of the best ways to become a CFO is to earn your CPA, which requires a master’s degree in accounting. Having your CPA as the head of a company will give you the complex accounting and financial understanding to be an effective financial steward and visionary for the firm. Having a full education in the accounting disciplines covers areas that are so important for CFOs, including:

  • GAAP
  • Auditing
  • Taxes
  • Financial operations theory and application
  • Compliance under SEC, IRS, and IASSB

The above factors show that earning your master’s in accounting can be a vital step to a rewarding accounting career at the upper managerial and executive levels. The degree will likely be an even better choice in the coming years as the US and world economy has been accelerating, and more businesses are being created and expanding. All of them will need skilled accounting professionals to keep their books in order.

References

Henry R. Steele
Henry R. Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of BusinessStudent.com. 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.Follow on Twitter.com

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