MBA in Accounting: Salary and Career Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue with an MBA in accounting. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and licensure information. Schools offering Accounting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Accountant?

Accountants are number wizards. They read, analyze and understand financial reports, take apart data, and work with taxes and investments. In many cases, accountants inspect and report finances and tax and financial records for other businesses, firms and organizations. They also keep records of all these transactions and make sure all the information meets state and federal requirements for SEC and IRS purposes. From their analysis, they may make recommendations to CEOs and board members as to how to save money or where to make investments.

The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Master's degree
Key Responsibilities Examine clients' financial records
Prepare tax documents for clients/employer
Advise in financial matters of investment, loss, and profit
Licensure/Certification Required Licensure required in some areas, certification available
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 11% (for all accountants and auditors)*
Average Salary (2015) $75,280 (for all accountants and auditors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Accounting Fields Could I Work in with an MBA?

Graduates with Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees in accounting can work in corporations, government agencies and non-profit organizations. You might work as a public, government or management accountant. Public accountants provide accounting services to people, especially at tax time. They may also become involved in forensics and investigate crimes related to fraud, embezzlement and other illegal financial transactions. Some public accountants are self-employed.

With an MBA, you could also work as an auditor, checking corporations' financial records to assess their business practices and to look for fraud or other problems. If you become a government accountant, you may be responsible for ensuring revenues and expenditures are in compliance with the law, as well as auditing businesses and individuals.

Management accountants make budgets for companies. In this job, you could provide financial analyses, reports and advice about important business decisions. Still other MBA graduates earn doctoral degrees and find careers in education, training future accountants.

What Career Credentials Could I Earn?

Most MBA accounting degree programs are sufficient to let a bachelor's degree holder meet the 150-credit-hour education requirement to sit for the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Examination. Administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, this exam is an important step for public accountants seeking state CPA licensure. Accountants who are not CPAs can do some accounting jobs but might find more limited opportunities.

Candidates are required to pass all four sections of the Uniform CPA Exam to qualify for licensure. In addition to the exam, candidates must meet education and work experience requirements established in their state. The state's board of accountancy issues the CPA license once all criteria are met.

Those interested in working as management accountants could sit for the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam issued by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). The CMA test assesses financial planning and decision-making skills. Credential holders are attractive to employers, the IMA claims. To become a CMA, you must pass the exam and satisfy two years of work experience. A bachelor's degree is the required education level for CMAs, so an MBA holder would qualify.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

Accountants report finances and keep accurate tax and financial records for businesses, firms and organizations. Your work might entail budgeting, performing cost evaluations and managing a company's revenues and expenses. Accountants also use computer software programs to organize financial data and maintain business records.

How Much Might I Earn With This Degree?

Accountants' salaries can vary considerably according to position, experience and qualifications. Based on the 2015 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average earnings for accountants and auditors was $75,280. According to the same report, those working in securities and commodity contracts intermediation and brokerage, earned the highest salary in the field, an annual average of $95,540.

Accountants who obtain certification may receive greater financial compensation than professionals without the credential. According to the IMA's 2015 salary survey, CMAs earned an average total compensation of $125,000 in 2015 (www.imanet.org). This was almost $23,000 more than the earnings of accountants without certification.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Career options are wide open for individuals with an MBA in Accounting. One option is a budget analyst, which commonly requires a master's degree in a major such as accounting. These professionals help organize an institutions' finances, supervise budget agreements and make recommendations on financial needs. Financial analysts in advanced positions, such as portfolio managers or fund managers, often require a master's degree in accounting or finance. These managers' respective primary tasks involve choosing investments for an organization's portfolio and managing the investment portfolio of individuals.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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