Students and professionals seeking advantages in today’s highly competitive business environment might consider earning an MBA in accounting to sharpen their edge. The degree offers strong future earning potential, career flexibility, varied opportunities for promotions and strong job growth.
An MBA in Accounting is flexible because it builds skills and knowledge that easily transfer into other business areas. Projected job growth in accounting is among the most robust, and job security is high. BusinessStudent.com quotes a U.S. News & World Report projection of 11 percent job growth in the field through 2024, with only a 2.5 percent unemployment rate during the same period. Traditionally, the highest-level positions with top salaries go to accountants who hold at least a master’s degree in the field.
Salaries for Accountants With an MBA
Salaries for candidates with an MBA in accounting depend on the employer and job description, but PayScale data from August 2019 places their average salary at $72,000 per year. Executive positions pay more, with the average yearly salary for corporate controllers, for instance, being $99,867 per year. Those working in consulting or investment firms may make much more, with bonuses and other incentives on top of salaries.
Candidates with an MBA in accounting are seen to have more specialized skills and are therefore more attractive to potential employers. Career paths open to those with MBAs in accounting include internal auditor, external auditor, management accountant and Certified Public Accountant.
MBAs for CPAs
Holding an MBA in accounting also makes a candidate eligible in most states to take the Certified Public Accountant examination. CPAs have among the highest earnings potential of accountants and are eligible for prestigious positions in the accounting field. Each state licenses CPAs though its own Board of Accountancy. Candidates must pass a test as well as hold a specified number of semester hours, usually 150, in an accounting program. An MBA in accounting provides candidates with these prerequisites, but candidates should consult their local Board of Accountancy for CPA exam requirements particular to their state.
Management and Executive Positions for MBAs
An MBA in accounting makes candidates much more appealing for management and even executive-level positions. Candidates gain the critical thinking skills required to make management decisions in roles that go beyond working on numbers and balance sheets.
Certifications for Accounting MBAs
An MBA in accounting also prepares candidates to obtain certifications specific to accounting jobs instead of general business positions. These certifications include:
Certified Management Accountant: A CMA certification is awarded by the Institute of Management Accountants. Candidates are required to have two years of experience in management accounting or financial management. The certification covers working capital policy, financial statement analysis, capital structure, valuation issues and risk management.
Certified Internal Auditor: A CIA certification also necessitates two years of work experience as an internal auditor and passing a four-part exam.
Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA). The CISA certification requires having five years of auditing information systems experience in addition to passing a five-part exam.
Candidates with managerial experience find that having an MBA in accounting provides them with the knowledge to understand what other accountants in the organization are doing. Most MBA programs prefer students to have at least a few years of business work experience.
MBA in Accounting Curriculum
The curriculum for an MBA in accounting provides a solid foundation in the principles of business management. Sample areas of curriculum for an MBA in accounting include:
- Corporate Financial Research and Reporting
- Federal Taxation
- Financial Instruments and Structured Finance
- Information Systems Design
- Advanced Financial Accounting
- Auditing and Assurance
A Range of Possibilities
Another unique advantage of an MBA in accounting is the degree’s appeal across industries. Career opportunities exist across all sectors — public, private and government. The ability to interpret and analyze financial data is a valued skill in every industry around the world.
Not all potential candidates for an MBA in accounting need to have business degrees but they do need to show coursework that demonstrates preparation for graduate study in business. While admission requirements vary by school, most require the GRE or GMAT and a personal essay and interview process.
An MBA in accounting is a viable choice for students and professionals seeking to enhance their future earnings potential and broaden their opportunities for promotion. The degree provides entry into fields and industries with high job growth. The flexibility of an MBA in accounting provides a competitive advantage in the job market for leadership roles in the field of accounting.