What Can I do With a Master's in Accounting?

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Accounting Blog

Expand your career with a top-ranked, AACSB-accredited accounting program from the Dhaliwal-Reidy School of Accountancy. With on-campus and online program options, Eller College offers a format that works for you.

As a master's degree in accounting opens the door to a myriad of career paths, we sought advice from top financial executives and legal experts on the ideal job for new graduates. From pursuing CPA certification to exploring the burgeoning field of tech transformation as an accounting analyst, discover the seven insightful recommendations these professionals have to offer.

  • Pursue CPA Certification for Opportunities
  • Consider Corporate Controller Role
  • Aim for Chief Financial Officer Position
  • Explore Actuary Career Path
  • Become an Accounting Lawyer
  • Choose Financial Planner
  • Seek Accounting Analyst Positions

Pursue CPA Certification for Opportunities

While not a job in itself, becoming a CPA is a significant career milestone for accounting graduates. Earning your CPA license opens up a wide range of opportunities, from public accounting firms to corporate finance roles. A CPA designation is highly respected and demonstrates your expertise and commitment to the accounting profession. 

It can lead to roles such as public accountant, auditor, tax consultant, or financial manager, among others. I recommend considering the CPA certification, as it can significantly enhance your career prospects and earning potential in the accounting field.

Gillian Dewar, Chief Financial Officer, Crediful

Consider Corporate Controller Role

I would advise the student to consider working as a corporate controller. This position ensures effective control and supervision of a company's accounting department and its financial and accounting strategies. It is one of the most critical jobs that require individuals with excellent knowledge and skills regarding financial statements, budgeting, payroll, and tax compliance, among other financial operations.

The role of a corporate controller has an interesting combination of accounting expertise and leadership opportunities, which ideally leads users of postgraduate accountancy degrees into important positions within the corporate structure. Additionally, Coursera reveals that it pays an average salary of $130,226, making it possible for financial growth, not just professional development.

Furthermore, this position serves as both a guardian angel and watchdog in terms of the financial health and compliance with laws by any company, hence providing a challenging yet rewarding career for those ambitious accountants who are newly graduated.

Lyle Solomon, Principal Attorney, Oak View Law Group

Aim for Chief Financial Officer Position

In my experience, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is a role well-suited for someone graduating with a master's degree in accounting. CFOs are part of the executive team, managing a company, coordinating activities, and guiding policies. They focus on leading the financial operations and setting the budget. As a CFO, you'll analyze financial statements and sales reports, gaining deep insight into the company's budgeting and spending, identifying areas for improvement.

To become a CFO, you need to combine your accounting knowledge with corporate experience. The median annual salary for top executives, including CFOs, is $184,460, with the highest earners making over $200,000. They are among the highest-paid professionals in the United States.

Eric Croak, CFP, President, Croak Capital

Explore Actuary Career Path

One career option that I highly recommend for a student about to graduate with a master's degree in accounting is becoming an actuary. You don't necessarily need a degree in actuarial science to become an actuary; many in the field have backgrounds in mathematics, accounting, economics, or finance, making a master's in accounting quite suitable.

I recommend considering this career for several reasons. Actuaries are often employed by insurance companies, but they can also find opportunities in investment firms, government agencies, and banks. Actuaries typically earn a high salary, with the median being around $105,900 annually. The job market for actuaries is also projected to grow significantly. The role is generally less stressful compared to other high-paying finance sector jobs.

To become an actuary, candidates must pass a series of rigorous exams administered by professional organizations like the Society of Actuaries (SOA) or the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS). Having a master's degree in accounting and finance can be advantageous as it can aid in passing some of these exams and demonstrate proficiency in financial and accounting principles. However, it's important to note that passing the actuarial exams remains the primary requirement for entering this profession, and many successful actuaries have educational backgrounds in fields other than actuarial science.

Jonathan Merry, Founder, Moneyzine

Become an Accounting Lawyer

If you're about to graduate with a master's degree in accounting, I'd recommend considering a career as an accounting lawyer. An accounting lawyer holds both a Juris Doctor (JD) degree and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification. 

This unique combination allows you to assist with audits, provide guidance on tax considerations for business decisions, and represent clients in court cases. While a degree in accounting isn't always mandatory, having a strong background in accounting is highly recommended. Law schools may not specify a particular undergraduate major, but they often suggest courses in accounting, finance, and business law. Some may even require a certain number of accounting credits or a CPA certification. 

It’s a lucrative career choice, seeing as how the demand for professionals who understand both law and accounting is on the rise. This dual expertise opens up opportunities in specialized areas like financial regulation, tax law, or corporate finance.

Riley Beam, Managing Attorney, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.

Choose Financial Planner

With a master's degree in accounting, students have a strong foundation in financial concepts, principles, regulations, and accounting practices and possess strong analytical and problem-solving skills, which makes them a perfect fit for financial planning roles. The job deals with various aspects of personal finance, tax planning, investment strategies, and retirement planning, including creating and implementing budgets, developing financial goals, and advising on achieving them.

Why is that job worth the effort? First, there is a growing demand for financial planning services, driven by, for example, the complexity of financial decisions or the need for financial security. It also offers continuous development and growth related to changing regulations or trends. What's great about financial planning is that specialists can work independently as freelancers or find work in various companies, corporations, or institutions. Money also talks, as the average salary for a financial planner is around $84,482 per year.

Nina Paczka, Community Manager, MyPerfectResume

Seek Accounting Analyst Positions

Tech-driven accounting analyst and consultancy job roles are becoming popular and better. With business digital transformation well underway in all parts of the globe, more and more leaders are investing in accounting technology, tools, and solutions to optimize and streamline accounting processes across the organization. 

With this trend, accounting analyst and consultant job roles are skyrocketing as accountants begin to play crucial roles in business analytics and finances, becoming key partners and consultants who drive business growth and success.

Max Wesman, Chief Operating Officer, GoodHire

The Eller graduate experience comes in many forms, including five MBA programs, 12 specialized master’s degrees and many more options for concentrations, specializations, dual degrees and certificates. 

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