Should I Get A Master’s Degree In Accounting?
Many accountants reach a point in their career when they wonder whether or not they should put forth the time, effort, and money necessary to get their master’s degree in accounting. Some people may think about this at the beginning of their career, while others may already be working as an accountant with a bachelor’s degree and wonder if getting a master’s degree will benefit their existing career.
As mentioned, some people work as an accountant with only a bachelor’s degree plus some additional courses, this means a master’s degree is not required to work as an accountant. So, the decision to get a master’s degree in accounting is a personal one. You must think about your specific lifestyle and career plans, and whether or not a master’s degree will help you reach your goals.
A master’s degree can be an advantage in almost any professional career. When applying for a position, a person with a master’s degree will be viewed by potential employers as more qualified than someone with only a bachelor’s degree. The process of earning a master’s degree will give you more formal education and additional experience, and help you prepare for more complicated work in the field. Employers would prefer to hire someone with an advanced degree.
Another thing to consider is career growth. If you plan to work for a larger company, and hope to move up the ranks to a higher position, or a position of leadership, then a master’s degree will be required. A master’s degree will provide more in-depth instruction for the higher-level accounting skills needed for a supervisory role.
If you hope to work for an accounting firm that serves companies with more complicated accounting needs, then a master’s degree will be beneficial. However, if you plan to work independently, or for a small firm that offers simple accounting services, then a bachelor’s degree may be all that you need.
In order to become a licensed certified public accountant (CPA), you must pass the CPA exam. Those who wish to take the CPA exam must have a certain number of hours of post-secondary education in accounting. The number of hours required varies by area, however most states and jurisdictions require a minimum of 150 hours.
It is possible to meet these testing requirements with a bachelor’s degree plus additional coursework. However, many students are finding that it makes more sense to enroll in a master’s program that will meet the necessary requirements for the CPA exam. That way their time, effort, and money will meet the needs of the CPA requirement, as well as earning them an advanced degree.
Some employers are more inclined to hire an accountant straight out of school if they have a master’s degree. This is because the new employee is ready to take the CPA exam. A new employee who only has a bachelor’s degree will still need to take additional coursework to meet the CPA requirement. An employer may be worried that the additional coursework will be a burden and distract from the new employee’s work.
One benefit of earning a master’s degree in accounting is salary. Those who enter the field with a master’s degree earn more money than those with a bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, some employers, especially small firms, may be happy to hire a new employee who only has a bachelor’s degree since their salary requirements will be lower.
Some people who decide they would like to pursue a master’s degree find that a Master in Business Administration (MBA) in accounting makes more sense than a master’s in accounting. An MBA in accounting is a broader degree that can help you prepare for a variety of different positions, including opening a company or working in a supervisory role.
If you plan to pursue a position as a chief executive officer, chief accounting officer, or chief operating officer of a company, or you intend to open your own company, then an MBA in accounting is a better choice. An MBA in accounting will give you all the same skills and training as a master’s in accounting, plus additional training that will benefit you in higher, more complicated positions.
As you can see, there are many choices to consider when deciding whether or not to pursue an advanced degree in accounting. The decision is personal, and must be based on your lifestyle, career goals, schedule, financial obligations, and desire to move up the ladder in your accounting career.