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Career Options With an Accounting MBA

Anyone thinking about a Master of Business Administration (MBA) has probably considered the potential payoff. Career advancement and higher salaries are two examples. The question may be which concentration to choose. For many, accounting rises to the top. Across industries, an accounting MBA can expand career opportunities.

The University of West Florida (UWF) offers an MBA with an Accounting emphasis with a difference. Students in this program choose an industry for a "portfolio" focus, developing in-depth, real-world knowledge of that industry, including key trends.

UWF's accounting MBA also prepares graduates for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. This credential can open the door to high-level careers. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that accountants and auditors with CPA licensure have an advantage.

What Is the Demand for Accounting MBAs?

An MBA is an investment, and job outlook is an important consideration. In general, the job prospects in business and financial occupations, including accounting, are better than average.

According to the BLS, accounting professionals are in demand. Employment is projected to grow 10 percent through 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

Like many occupations, technology is automating some of the routine tasks performed by accounting professionals. Tax preparation and revenue audits are a couple of examples. While these technologies will increase efficiencies, job growth will remain strong.

As the BLS reports, "With the automation of routine tasks, such as data entry, the advisory and analytical duties of accountants will become more prominent." Employers will look to accounting MBAs to meet the demand for these changing needs. According to a recent Corporate Recruiters Survey, they may even offer accounting MBAs higher salaries.

What Are Some Job Options for Accounting MBAs?

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) calls accounting the "language of business." No matter the size, every business has accounting needs.

Interested in technology? Energy? Manufacturing? How about healthcare or consulting? An accounting MBA can improve job prospects in any industry. As with a general MBA, an accounting MBA prepares graduates with a solid business foundation. Accounting MBA grads also develop the high-level skills employers are looking for in today's increasingly complex business environments.

Whether for a startup, small business or Fortune 500 company, accounting skills are an asset. A bachelor's degree may be enough for entry-level accounting jobs, but the BLS notes that employers may prefer to hire candidates with an MBA.

As the following examples show, accounting MBA grads have wide-ranging career options:

  • Credit Analyst
  • Financial Analyst
  • Internal Auditor
  • General Accounting Manager
  • Financial Controller
  • Forensic Accountant
  • Tax Manager
  • Payroll Manager
  • Consultant
  • Owner, Public Accounting Firm

For those who aspire to executive-level positions such as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), an accounting MBA may be essential.

Finally, for accounting professionals who are interested in getting back to the classroom, there is another option. Baby boomers are retiring, creating a faculty shortage in some colleges and universities. An accounting MBA, along with professional experience, will support this rewarding career path.

How Do Accounting Salaries Stack Up?

How does a salary bump of nearly 90 percent sound? Accounting is one of the business occupations that comes with a wage premium for an MBA.

For example, MBAs working in securities, commodities and financial services earn a median annual wage of $170,000, compared with $90,000 for a bachelor's degree. Bonuses can increase compensation substantially.

According to the BLS, accountants with CPA licensure have an edge: The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) reports that accounting professionals with CPA licensure earn 10 to 15 percent more.

As in any occupation, salaries in the accounting field will differ from one person to the next for a variety of reasons. In addition to education, a few factors that can impact salary include:

  • Geographic location
  • Experience
  • Role (including level of seniority)
  • Industry

Accounting MBA graduates can look forward to excellent job prospects, high salaries and a clear path to promotion. Not surprisingly, the accounting profession made the top 10 in a U.S. News & World Report ranking of Best Business Jobs.

There are clearly significant benefits to earning an accounting MBA. At UWF, students can complete their coursework in as few as 16 months, graduating with the professional credentials they need to accelerate their careers.

Learn more about UWF's online MBA program with an emphasis in Accounting.


Sources:

AICPA: CPA Exam

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Accountants and Auditors

GMAC: Does It Pay to Get a Specialized MBA Degree?

AICPA: Frequently Asked Questions FAQs - Become a CPA

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Should I Get a Master's Degree?

NASBA: Top 5 Reasons to Be a CPA

U.S. News & World Report: Best Business Jobs


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