Accounting is vital to business. It’s also more than just crunching numbers. Elevated skills applied in accounting careers can produce critical data-driven insight to influence corporate strategies for production, growth, and profitability. These skills, which can be finely honed through the completion of an advanced accounting degree, enable professionals to excel in positions that are typically associated with generous salaries and high income tax brackets. These accounting jobs usually require specific educational achievement and finely tuned competencies to reach the apex of the profession.
The Importance of an Advanced Degree
Earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a similar field enables students to pursue entry-level positions in accounting. However, it is advantageous for burgeoning accounting professionals to pursue an advanced degree such as a Master of Accountancy to expand their potential job opportunities, particularly for high-end positions. It’s common for employers to reserve these types of elevated accounting roles for those with advanced degrees.
Employers also prefer accounting professionals with Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification. This accreditation is typically required for accounting tasks such as filing reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which legally mandates CPAs as certified filers. To become a CPA, candidates must complete 150 hours of college coursework, surpassing the hours needed to earn a bachelor’s degree. It follows then, that pursuing an advanced degree like a master’s of accountancy is essentially a de facto requirement for accounting positions that are associated with high pay and high income tax brackets.
Essential Skills for High-End Accounting Jobs
Regardless of the position pursued, there are several fundamental skills needed to excel in high-end accounting positions. For instance, accountants must possess strong analytical, critical thinking, and decision-making skills. These competencies enable an accountant to make informed conclusions on data derived from financial reports, providing vital insight into the future direction and strategies of a company or organization.
Accountants must also have several fundamental soft skills to succeed. Since accounting professionals are tasked with managing several projects simultaneously, they must have finely honed organizational skills. Additionally, it’s vital to have well-developed written and verbal communication skills. Accounting professionals must be adept at explaining critical financial data in simplified terms.
An advanced degree such as a master’s in accountancy provides aspiring high-level accountants the opportunity to refine these skills. Successful companies consistently pursue and hire accounts with these core competencies to operate efficiently.
Some of the Key High-End Accounting Positions
Once candidates complete an advanced degree such as a Master of Accountancy, they usually explore well-paying positions in the corporate world or in other sectors, such as government or nonprofits. The well-rounded education acquired through an advanced accounting degree can heighten the ability of candidates to find positions in a wide range of industries, from health care and manufacturing to retail and financial institutions.
A financial analyst analyzes financial data to make informed predictions about a company’s short-term and long-term performance. The data is utilized by banks and stockbrokers to construct informed investment strategies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2017 median pay for financial analysts was approximately $84,300. The BLS also predicts an 11% job growth for the position from 2016 to 2026, which is higher compared to the 7% growth projected for the average profession.
Accounting managers commonly oversee a company’s financial reporting obligations. They work closely with other high-level accounting positions such as corporate controllers or chief financial officers (CFOs) to ensure a company’s financial processes are maintained accurately. The BLS lists the 2017 median salary for accounting managers at approximately $69,400 per year, and predicts 10% job growth from 2016 to 2026.
Director of Accounting
Directors of accounting are tasked with overseeing a company’s internal financial policies. This can involve overseeing functions similar to an accounting manager, but also includes coordination of a company’s year-end and fiscal year processes. This position can also be charged with filing a company’s taxes. As for salary and job growth metrics, they are the same as for an accounting manager, according to the BLS, which places both positions under the career umbrella of accountants and auditors.
Corporate controllers, sometimes known as financial managers, are charged with analyzing and interpreting a company’s financial data. These processes provide predictive data for a company’s internal procedures, as opposed to data for investors looking to build portfolio strategies. Corporate controllers are also usually tasked with leveraging data to recommend short-term and long-term financial growth strategies. They should have strong leadership skills, as they can often oversee staff charged with executing basic accounting-related tasks. According to the BLS, the 2017 median pay for this position was approximately $125,000. The BLS also projects 19% job growth for the position from 2016 to 2026.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
CFOs are senior-level executives who oversee a company’s accounting and financial activities. They also create corporate financial strategies based on a company’s analyzed strengths and weaknesses. These strategies may range from overseeing ad and marketing campaigns to implementing investment strategies. CFOs must have strong leadership qualities, as they often share a company’s vision and goals with their organization’s workforce. The BLS lists the 2017 median pay for top executives such as CFOs at around $105,000, and predicts 8% job growth from 2016 to 2026.
A Wide Range of High-Paying Possibilities
Students who complete an advanced accounting degree are likely to be in a better position to pursue lucrative opportunities in the accounting field, including several job titles not usually attainable with only a bachelor’s degree. These high-level roles offer the chance to move into a high income tax bracket, while providing the opportunity to make a substantial impact on a company’s finances and future.
Learn how Ohio University’s online Master of Accountancy program offers students the tools and skills to make a substantial difference not only in accounting, but in the business world at large.