Popular Job Titles with a Master’s in Accountancy
The full impact of digital transformations such as increasing investment in automation, artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency technology has yet to be realized, but these trends are likely to have a dramatic impact on the way businesses operate and the way that accounting departments interact within the rest of their organizations.
This isn’t necessarily cause for concern. In fact, many of the disruptive technology trends we see today will create demand for accounting professionals, especially those who have developed a strong blend of soft skills like communication and discipline-specific skills like proficiency in quantitative analysis.
Accounting is a Job Seeker’s Market
From sector-specific considerations like the way changes to contract revenue standards affected healthcare in 2018 to broader issues such as evolving financial accounting standards, new challenges influence the increasing demand for accounting professionals.
Some of the highest demand accounting jobs require a mixture of industry-specific knowledge and advanced proficiency in accounting principles. U.S. News & World Report ranks accounting third in its Best Business Jobs list, considering factors that include median salary, potential 10-year growth, employment rate and future job prospects.
Even as certain sectors automate more roles and face disruption from myriad sources, the field of accountancy can expect 10% job growth from 2016 to 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Specific sectors are experiencing skills shortages due to the need for both deep accountancy expertise and sector-specific knowledge (e.g., healthcare), according to staffing agency Robert Half’s 2019 Salary Guide, and demand for accounting is strong across most industries and businesses.
In-Demand Accounting Jobs
While the overall accounting profession is expected to see considerable growth for the next several years, there is an especially high demand for managers in accounting and closely related fields. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 19 percent growth for finance managers — which include controllers, risk managers and cash managers — between 2016 and 2026, compared with 7 percent projected for all occupations.
Top Paying Accounting Jobs
In addition to highlighting industry trends, the Robert Half Salary Guide includes data on a large range of finance and accounting roles. Some of the top paying accounting jobs featured include:
- Auditing manager
- Chief financial officer
- Corporate controller
- Internal auditor
- Tax accountant
Geographic location, sector and professional certification are the top factors that influence accountants’ earning potential. According to PayScale, accountants in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle have the highest salaries. Additionally, certified public accountants earn an average of 28% more than accountants overall. Certification can also affect the likelihood of finding employment in specific industries. Because accountants must be certified in order to perform audits and prepare reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission, for example, public accounting firms in particular seek licensed professionals.
Related content: Learn More About How to Become a CPA
The Most Popular Jobs with an Online Master’s in Accounting
The positions listed above are not only top-paying roles, but also some of the most common career paths for professionals with an online master’s in Accounting. As PayScale data shows, popular jobs for accounting master’s graduates include:
- Accounting manager
- Chief financial officer
- Finance manager
- Financial analyst
- Senior accountant
- Tax accountant
- Tax manager
- Vice president of finance
In-Demand Accounting Skills and the CPA Exam
In a panel discussion about the value of the CPA Exam, several speakers — including leadership from multiple top-100 businesses and accounting firms — highlighted the growing importance of skills like adaptability. Specific qualifications like CPA licensure are still highly sought after for accountants looking to grow their careers. The CPA license is an especially critical validation of experience and knowledge for professionals interested in leadership roles or who want to open their own practices, as well as individuals working in public accounting.
However, accountants must also be able to adapt to new trends and be capable of applying key accounting principles to new situations, placing a growing emphasis on accounting skills like:
- The ability to apply accounting theory and principles to new business challenges
- Clear communication skills that allow accountants to serve as strategic partners to their clients or the rest of their businesses
- The adaptability to consider and leverage new technology without becoming overwhelmed or overly reliant on specific accounting software
“Learning on-demand is there. In this day and age, your learning never stops. New industries are created from when you start college to when you end college. The big thing you need to get out of a college experience is how to learn. And that’s going to last your career.”
-Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, “Professional Accountants – The Future”
When pursuing an education in accountancy, the specific skills students should build will depend on their areas of interest and whether they want to specialize in a subset of accounting or within a particular industry. For example, professionals interested in working in public accounting will want to develop in-depth expertise of tax accounting and business strategy as well as their leadership and presentation skills.
In contrast, corporate accountants will likely need to develop expertise related to their industry and an understanding of specific regulations and laws that may uniquely impact their sector. For example, those working in the transportation industry have unique considerations when considering the new standards outlined by the U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in 2018. One such consideration for the travel sector is the way to treat the fees associated with changing a booked flight or other form of travel— under previous rules, change fees were treated as separate transactions, but with the new standards, these should be grouped together with the original ticket purchase.
There are also several core skills that most accountants will need to be successful. According to PayScale, some of the most common skills for senior accountants include:
- Accounts payable
- Accounts receivable
- Financial analysis
- Microsoft Office
- Tax preparation
Education requirements can also vary dramatically by the individual position and the company, but, as U.S. News suggests, some employers prefer graduate accounting education. In addition to building key accounting skills, graduate education can help students network with other professionals and connect them with employers. For example, DePaul’s Career Services include one-on-one mentorship as well as access to exclusive job postings.
About DePaul’s Online M.S. in Accountancy
DePaul’s online M.S. in Accounting is designed to be both practical and forward-thinking. By developing the practical skills to be successful as accountants from day one, our graduates can immediately advance their careers or enter into highly competitive jobs. Our program is taught by faculty who have achieved the highest levels of education in accounting, finance and law, and are experienced accounting practitioners themselves.
In addition to building proficiency with high-demand accounting skills such as auditing, our program offers students the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills and knowledge of accounting principles. This empowers our graduates to take on more strategic roles within their organizations, offer more value to their clients and adjust to industry disruptions like those caused by technology.
We leverage our connection to industry leaders and promote an environment where students can find mentors, build their networks, leverage leading CPA prep services and graduate with skills they can use to push themselves further.
To learn more about DePaul University’s online MSA program fill out the fields below to download a brochure. You can also call 1-800-950-0232 to speak to one of our Admissions Advisors.
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