Is it time to earn a Masters in Accounting degree? This is a common question individuals ask themselves after earning an undergraduate degree in accounting, business, or finance, and typically after spending a few years working in the field. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), now is a good time to go back to university for your master’s degree. The Bureau projects growth in the accounting field of about 4% through 2029. Specifically, it’s likely there will be a growing need for accountants by businesses and governmental agencies to keep finances in order.
Of course, there is a lot to consider before committing to the time and expense that is required of earning a master’s degree in accounting.
What exactly is a Master’s in Accounting?
Should I get a MBA instead?
What jobs are available to someone with a MAcc?
How much can someone with a master’s in accounting earn per year?
These are all common — and important — things to ask yourself as you consider whether or not to join a MAcc degree program. Below, we answer each of these questions and more.
What is a MAcc?
MAcc is the abbreviation for Master’s in Accounting. This degree may also be referred to as Master of Accountancy, Master of Science in Accounting, or Master of Professional Accountancy. Regardless of title, a master’s degree program in accounting prepares students for a career in the fields of accounting and finance. It teaches them to develop advanced skills, think critically, and form business strategies.
Throughout a MAcc degree program, students will also prepare to sit the CPA exam, and to pass with flying colors. For those who have already earned their Certified Management Accountant certification, going back to school to obtain a Master’s in Accounting will satisfy the continuing education requirements for certification renewal. Adding a Master of Accountancy degree to your resume is sure to make you stand out in the crowd, especially if the graduate degree is paired with a CPA certification.
Should I Get a Master of Accounting or a MBA?
MBA is short for Master of Business Administration. Though it is possible to focus an MBA in accounting, generally speaking MBAs are intended to create holistic professionals in business — that is, those who desire to go into management or leadership positions. As such, MBA curriculum tends to focus heavily on economics and finance, with mathematics courses dedicated to statistics.
Those who intend to pursue or advance a career in accounting are better off earning a Master of Accountancy degree. A master’s in accounting will provide students with a deeper, more concentrated knowledge of accounting’s many facets. Thus, a master’s in accounting is designed for those who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in the subject.
What is the Difference Between a MAcc and MBA Salary?
When thinking about an advanced degree, and considering between a master’s in accounting and a master’s of business administration, it is necessary to compare and consider the salary differences. Indeed, the business administration versus accounting salaries are drastically different. According to PayScale, those with a Master of Business Administration degree make an average of $89,767 per year. That average accounts for a wide scale: from financial analysts, who average about $65,000 annually, to financial controllers, who often make as much as $92,000 per year!
Meanwhile, professionals having earned a Master of Accounting degree average $71,956 per year. Though accountants earn a median salary of $55,000, corporate controllers make as much as $104,000. Interestingly, PayScale also reports that a Chief Financial Officer with a MBA averages $151,000, while a Chief Financial Officer with a MAcc averages “just” $136,000.
Of course, an entire career is about more than just money. It is important to compare and contrast multiple facets of a potential degree to ensure it is preparing you for work you will enjoy doing each and every day for many years.
What Can I Do with a MAcc? What Jobs Are Available for a Master of Accounting Graduate?
Traditionally, those who graduate with a master’s degree in accounting go on to pursue careers as CPAs or accountants. Most of those who do not choose instead to earn their Chartered Financial Analyst Certification, or CFA Certification. This internationally recognized certificate allows accounting majors to work as part of the global financial industry.
Below, we’ve listed some of the most common careers for those who earn a MAcc.
What does an accountant do? Accountants are responsible for maintaining and understanding any financial record. They can work for large corporations, for businesses or organizations, or for individuals. Tasks may include preparing statements, analyzing information, and organizing invoices.
How much does an accountant make? According to PayScale, accountants average $51,703 per year. This is based on a range of $37,000 to $72,000, with the latter belonging to the top 10%.
Certified Public Account (CPA)
What does a CPA do? Certified Public Accountants, referred to mostly as CPAs, are accountants who have met specific requirements. In short, they have earned a master’s degree or higher in accounting, and they have passed the CPA Exam. The title of CPA is highly sought after because only those who have put in additional time, effort, and expense are able to use it. Thus, while all CPAs are accountants, not all accountants are CPAs.
How much does a CPA make? Certified Public Accountants average $68,326 per year. This average salary accounts for a range from about $49,000 to $114,000, or entry level to most experienced.
What does an auditor do? Auditors are accounting specialists tasked with reviewing the accounts of companies, organizations, and sometimes even individuals. When employed by a company or organization, their role includes advising on things like cost savings and risk aversion.
How much does an auditor make? PayScale reports that the average annual salary for an auditor is $57,853. Entry-level auditors typically bring in about $53,000, while the most experienced auditors can make as much as $76,000.
What does a budget analyst do? Budget analysts works for companies and organizations both public and private. The main responsibilities of a budget analyst are to monitor spending and prepare budget reports.
How much does a budget analyst make? Budget analysts make an average of $62,442 per year, according to PayScale. Although those budget analysts at entry level typically bring in about $51,000, those with 20+ years of experience make upwards of $78,000.
Chief Financial Officer
What does a chief financial officer do? A chief financial officer, or CFO, is one of the most important executives in a company or organization. They are responsible for all financial activities. This includes overseeing the budget, negotiations, business planning, and forecasting.
How much does a chief financial officer make? According to PayScale, the annual salary of a chief financial officer could vary widely, though the average is just over $136,000 annually. Chief financial officers in their first year in the role can expect to make about $91,000, while those with 20+ years of experience typically make $150,000 and more. Additionally, bonuses for chief financial officers range from $4,000 to $72,000.
What does a corporate controller do? A corporate controller is a vital part of a corporation’s financial health. They oversee the daily accounting operations, which can include the departments of payroll, accounts payable and receivable, and accounting. By overseeing these departments and maintaining familiarity with their company’s financial situation, corporate controllers also assist in making strategic financial decisions.
How much does a corporate controller make? Corporate controllers make an average annual salary of $100,527, according to PayScale. Those with one to four years of experience average about $80,000. Interestingly, late career corporate controllers average a higher salary than those who are most experienced. The same website reports that corporate controllers with 10-19 years of experience average salaries of $107,000, while those with 20 or more years average $103,000.
What does a financial analyst do? Financial analysts assist their clients in spending money in order to garner profit. They do this by constantly assessing the performance of investments such as stocks and bonds. Financial analysts work for a variety of employers including banks, insurance companies, businesses big and small, and individuals.
How much does a financial analyst make? PayScale reports that financial analysts make an average of $61,678 per year. While those at the very beginnings of their career bring in about $56,000, those with the most experience average upwards of $75,000.
What does a financial manager do? Financial managers are responsible for an organization’s financial health. Their responsibilities include performing data analysis and advising about ways to maximize profit. Daily tasks include creating financial reports, forming financial goals, and making decisions about investments.
How much does a financial manager make? Financial managers average an annual salary of $74,056. Interestingly, those with 5-19 years of experience average the highest salaries, about $80,000 per year.
What does a forensic accountant do? Forensic accountants are usually employed by organizations or companies. The main responsibility of a forensic accountant is to figure out where any missing money has gone, and how to recoup it. Sometimes, forensic accountants are tasked with presenting financial information as expert witnesses during hearings or trials.
How much does a forensic accountant make? According to PayScale, the average salary for a forensic accountant is $70,215. Those with the least experience usually average about $59,000, while those with the most experience make about $96,000.
What does a payroll manager do? Corporations and businesses big and small would not be able to function without a payroll manager. Payroll managers are responsible for issuing paychecks and overseeing the transfers of direct deposit. In shot, they make sure everyone gets paid. Of course, it’s a little more complicated than that. Other tasks include correcting any discrepancies in the payroll, preparing relevant reports, balancing accounts, and itemizing things like vacation time and disability hours.
How much does a payroll manager make? According to PayScale, payroll managers average $69,139 per year. This does not include bonuses, which can be as much as $12,000 per year. A payroll manager in his or her first years on the job can expect a salary of about $50,000, while those with upwards of 20 years of experience can expect around $76,000.
What does a tax accountant do? Tax accountants can be employed by individuals, government agencies, organizations, and companies. Regardless of their employer, tax accountants all have the same main responsibility: come up with strategies that minimize or eliminate tax payments. Tax accountants are also tasked with organizing audits with the proper authorities, when necessary.
How much does a tax accountant make? PayScale reports that tax accountants average yearly salaries of $57,567. The highest salaries among tax accountants are around $70,000, and are earned by those with around 20 years of experience.
Other jobs one can obtain with a master’s of accountancy degree include tax manager, accounting manager, and information and technology manager, to name but three.
What Are the Salary Expectations for Master of Accounting Graduates?
Whether you pursue one of the careers described above, or something else entirely, those who hold a Master of Accounting degree can expect to make a certain amount each year. According to PayScale, the average annual salary of someone with a MAcc is $71,956. This accounts for a range of about $54,000 (the average salary of a staff accountant) to $136,000 (the average salary of a CFO).
As with any degree and any career, the more experience one has, the higher the potential salary. PayScale also reports that those working within one year of earning their master’s degree in accounting make an average starting salary of $60,000.
Interestingly, PayScale also reports the average salary of someone with only a Bachelor of Science in Accounting to be $71,407 per year, a difference of roughly $500 per year. While this might not seem like a substantial difference in average income, it is important to remember the overall benefits of being able to list a Master of Accountancy on your resume or CV.
Earning a MAcc degree will likely:
- earn you a higher average salary
- prepare you for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam
- set you apart from competitors
- instill a deeper, more solid knowledge of accounting