This is part a series of informational articles for working adults who are considering a master’s degree. We kicked things off with MBA and will follow with articles about master’s in accounting, education, public administration, higher education administration, and counseling & human services.
Be on the lookout for next week’s article: Is a Master of Science in Accounting Worth Your Time? Pros and Cons of an Accounting Career
If you’re passionate about accounting and ready to take the next step in your career, you could be the perfect candidate for a Master of Science in Accounting. Your graduate-level education will prepare you to take on a variety of new roles and responsibilities, including those outlined below:
Certified Public Accountant
Certified public accountants (CPAs) consult with businesses and individuals on a variety of matters, including, most notably, tax advising. While they fulfill many of the same roles as standard accountants, they hold a higher standing in the eyes of the individual clients and businesses that hire them, as they must meet a series of academic requirements and pass a rigorous exam. CPAs can technically succeed with merely a bachelor’s degree, but graduate education increases their chances of passing the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Exam and maintaining CPA status. The BISK CPA Review reports that CPAs earned a median annual salary of $73,800 in 2012, compared to $50,500 for all accountants with their bachelor’s degree.
A Master’s of Science in Accounting equips you with the in-depth research skills needed for success in forensic accounting. Dr. Larry Crumbly of the Journal of Forensic Accounting refers to the typical forensic accountant as a bloodhound, while comparing an auditor to a seeing-eye dog. Forensic accountants use their accounting and research skills to uncover essential evidence, which they eventually present in court. It’s an exciting and challenging position, and no two days are ever quite alike. PayScale reports that the average forensic accountant earns $68,126 per year.
Senior Internal Auditor
Internal auditors monitor and assess risks within the organizations they represent. They closely examine compliance with federal and state regulations and make recommendations to management based on their findings. The minimum academic requirement to become an auditor is a bachelor’s degree, but graduate-level education can prepare internal auditors for senior positions, which come with a notable pay bump. PayScale highlights average annual earnings of $74,429 for senior internal auditors.
Otherwise referred to as a financial controller, a comptroller closely examines financial statements and reports prepared by accountants to ensure complete accuracy. Comptrollers oversee internal audits of the corporations or non-profit organizations they represent. They typically hold CMA (certified management accountant) credentials. Upper-level degrees can give prospective comptrollers an edge over the competition and a significant salary boost. PayScale estimates median annual wages of $65,209 for comptrollers.
Responsible for the financial health of a variety of businesses and organizations, financial managers direct investment activities, produce reports, and analyze market trends. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, financial managers earned median annual wages of $121,750 in 2016. This field is growing rapidly; the BLS reports a job outlook of 19 percent between 2016 and 2026, with a whopping 108,400 new jobs expected during this period.
Chief Financial Officer
Many accounting graduates seek lucrative positions in financial management. Most hold a bucket list goal of landing a lucrative position as chief financial officer (CFO). This corporate professional’s responsibilities include financial reporting to upper management, record keeping, and management of the company’s financial risks. CFO positions are similar in many respects to financial management roles, but CFO is typically regarded as a step up. Many CFOs work with rapidly ascending startup businesses, while others prefer to manage financial operations for larger, more established companies. Salary varies significantly based on the size of the company and the scope of the CFO’s responsibilities, but Investopedia highlights median annual compensation of $315,947 as of 2014.