Lucrative Career Options for M.Acc. Degree Holders

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A well-dressed accountant leans against his car while talking on his cell phone.

A master’s degree can be a gateway to a number of high-paying careers in accounting, including financial analyst, information and technology accountant, corporate controller and chief financial officer (CFO).

A bachelor’s degree may be the baseline for some opportunities in the field, according to the Houston Chronicle, but “holding a master’s degree can improve your job prospects.”

“Employers look favorably on candidates with master’s degrees that perfectly fit the niche they operate in, such as tax or forensic accounting. Another reason to complete a master’s program is that it gives you the educational requirements you need for the certified public accounting (CPA) exam. A CPA license opens lots of doors and is virtually essential once you move to senior positions in corporations and big accounting firms,” according to the Chronicle.

An online degree program such as University of North Dakota’s master’s in accountancy can enable working professionals to advance their education while also taking care of work and personal responsibilities.

High-Paying Accounting Careers

The median annual salary for accountants and auditors in 2018 was $70,500, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A number of career options, however, offer considerably higher remuneration.

Here’s a look at some of the more lucrative careers in accounting; their responsibilities; and the education, experience and certifications that employers expect from professionals in these positions:

Accounting director: Accounting directors oversee an organization’s accounting activities and may be involved in developing accounting practices and strategies, according to Glassdoor.com. They also manage the employees in the accounting department.

Glassdoor puts the annual salary range at $88,000 to $174,000.

Audit director: Audit directors (sometimes called audit/compliance directors or internal auditing directors) are in charge of “auditing of accounting and financial data of various departments within an organization,” according to Salary.com.

Other responsibilities for this senior-level position may include designing, developing and implementing internal auditing policies and procedures, and ensuring accuracy and compliance with government guidelines.

Audit directors typically answer to the CFO or top management, Salary.com notes. Landing such a position generally requires at least five years of managerial experience. A CPA certification is not required but is highly preferred.

Audit directors may earn from $139,000 to more than $178,000 a year, according to Salary.com.

CFO: The chief financial officer is, as Glassdoor puts it, “the head honcho for everything financial within an organization.” As part of their responsibilities, they manage financial risks, develop short- and long-term financial goals and projections, and oversee financial recordkeeping and reporting. They often work closely with the chief operating officer to manage budgets and secure funding.

Most CFOs hold CPA licenses and have several years of experience in the field, including tenures as controller or similar positions. They also need interpersonal, communication and leadership skills. Glassdoor puts the salary range for this position at $86,000 to $286,000.

Corporate controller: This senior position is responsible for all of a company’s accounting-related activities, including financial reports, maintaining accounting records and ensuring compliance with generally accepted accounting principles, according to Investopedia. Also, in today’s heightened regulatory environment, controllers are expected to understand the intricacies of Sarbanes-Oxley and the latest Securities and Exchange Commission guidelines.

Controllers, who usually have advanced degrees as well as a CPA certification, need significant experience in the accounting field. Robert Half puts the starting salary at $121,000 a year.

Financial analyst: Financial analysts assess the performance of stocks, bonds and other investments to be able to advise individuals and businesses about investment decisions, according to the BLS. Many work in banks or financial institutions.

Analysts typically focus on trends in certain industries, products or regions.

As an example, the BLS says, “An analyst may focus on a subject area such as the energy industry, a world region such as Eastern Europe, or the foreign exchange market. They must understand how new regulations, policies, political situations, and economic trends may affect investments.”

Senior analysts typically have experience as analysts or senior accountants and may go on to positions as finance managers or controllers. Most also have an advanced degree. Senior analysts, according to Indeed.com, average just over $87,000 a year with those on the upper end earning more than $140,000.

Information technology accountant: As the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) explains, information technology accountants bridge the gap between business and technology. More an approach than a job title, information technology accounting deals with data analytics and the software and information systems necessary for centralizing and managing an organization’s financial data.

The AICPA offers a Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) credential that demonstrates the holders’ ability to:

  • Develop and maintain information governance policies and programs
  • Perform data analytics and provide insight for business decisions
  • Assess and evaluate the impact of technology risks to the company and its operations

Salaries vary widely by experience level and location, though Glassdoor.com puts the average at $73,587. Recent salary reports at Glassdoor show IT senior analysts earning between $70,000 and $96,000 a year.

Employment Outlook for Accountants

Economic conditions predict employment growth for accountants and auditors in the range of 6% between 2018 and 2028, according to the BLS.

“As the economy grows, these workers will continue to be needed to prepare and examine financial records. In addition, as more companies go public, there will be greater need for public accountants to handle the legally required financial documentation,” the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook notes.

Prospects are good for entry-level job seekers, but competition will be stronger for more prestigious – and higher-paying – positions, the BLS says. Those who earn advanced degrees and CPA certification should be most in demand.

University of North Dakota’s Master’s in Accountancy Online Program

Choosing a professional accountancy graduate program can affect one’s career success. The University of North Dakota (UND) is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), which only recognizes about 30% of business programs in the United States, placing it in the top 5% of schools around the world.

 UND’s Master of Accountancy online program offers practitioner and fundamentals tracks. Coursework is done online, which allows busy professionals to study accountancy and earn their degree without disrupting their work or personal lives. For more information, contact UND today.

Sources:

Better job prospects: Houston Chronicle

Accountant auditor salary: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Accounting director: Glassdoor.com

Audit director: Salary.com

CFO: Glassdoor

Controller: Investopedia

Robert Half

Financial analyst: BLS

Senior analyst salary: Indeed.com

Information and technology accountant: AICPA

Salary average: Glassdoor

Salary report, senior IT analysts: Glassdoor

Employment outlook: BLS