Accounting is a fundamental concept that impacts nearly every industry. It’s the systematic recording, summarizing, analysis and reporting of data entry — a process that enables businesses to maintain and keep financial information in order. Without a proper accounting strategy in place, organizations and individuals alike will have a difficult time maintaining accurate records, which may contribute to notable financial losses over time.
That’s what makes the career of an accountant so important. Accountants are trusted as trained professionals who prepare financial documents and statements, while also performing direct audits and bookkeeping in an effort to keep a client’s business in order. This person requires certain mathematical and organizational skills, knowledge, experience and education to make accounting a successful career.
Pursuing a job in accounting involves a lifetime of advising, problem-solving, management and ample planning for those seeking financial assistance. To gain a steady grasp of each underlying concept of accounting, it takes more than general knowledge about and interest in numbers and organization. Earning a master’s of business administration with an accounting concentration is a valuable opportunity to gain industry expertise, increase your skill set and see a return on investment for your college education.
Let’s take a closer look at what it takes to pursue a master’s in accounting or finance, courses and learning outcomes to expect and career paths you can pursue after gaining your MBA with an accounting concentration.
Why Choose an MBA in Accounting or Finance?
If one thing is evident, it’s that money is essential and it’s not going anywhere. The exchange and format of currency may transform over the years, but there will always be a need to organize cash flow and keep financial records. Cryptocurrency, for example, is a digital asset that’s changing the way people think about the physical dollar, but its existence doesn’t mean accountants are irrelevant. Advances in technology are not taking away the need for accountants — rather, they are paving the way for the future of accounting. The rise of cloud accounting, as well as overall growth of new digital tools, are only creating greater opportunities for accountants and ensuring a steady flow of work well into the future, CPA Practice Advisor reported.
The advancement of technology is not the only thing making the prospects for a career as an accountant favorable — the job market in general shows a positive growth as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of accountants and auditors is anticipated to rise 4% between 2019 and 2029. This rate is average when compared to all other occupations, but still shows job opportunities to be on the positive end of the scale.
Pay is also another major determining factor for those considering any career path. The BLS reports that accountants and auditors, on average, make $71,550 annually, according to information collected in May 2019. The top paying industries for accountants, in order, include finance and insurance ($76,440) management of companies and enterprises ($74,060), accounting and bookkeeping ($71,390) and government ($70,180).
Who Should Consider an Accounting MBA?
An MBA in accounting is an avenue for someone who already holds a bachelor’s degree. This individual has experience dealing with financials and wants a better opportunity to advance their career using mathematical and problem-solving skills. Your specific career goals and objectives can help you decide if an MBA with accounting concentration makes sense for your future.
Beyond a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a similar field, someone who has earned Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credentials can become even more qualified for a career in accounting by earning a master’s degree.
Understanding the Focus Areas of a Master’s in Accounting
While accountants with a bachelor’s degree can secure positions and make a favorable living wage, gaining a master’s in accounting comes with more perks: It can make you more appealing to potential employers, enable you to earn a higher wage and open up more opportunities for employment in general. A better understanding of certain focus areas of the MBA in accounting curriculum can help you decide if pursuing your master’s degree is the best next step in your professional career.
Gaining your MBA with accounting concentration from the Robert H. Smith School of Business allows you to gather knowledge from the general world of business and pick the subject area you are most interested in to pursue as a concentration. All five specializations focus on the most important business aspects and include Accounting, Finance, Information Systems and Business Analytics, Marketing and Supply Chain Management.
If you’re considering an MBA with accounting concentration, this track focuses on learning how to precisely analyze and communicate proper financial data in an effort to maximize information and create business strategies. Managing financial assets is vital to every working business, making the Robert H. Smith School of Business accounting track an encouraging opportunity for potential accounting professionals looking for career paths in managing financial assets.
Accounting Courses in an Accounting MBA Program
Pursuing an MBA in accounting opens up a world of knowledge for those who want to explore the financial challenges and opportunities that come with the career of an accountant. The Smith online MBA program uses an honest, innovative curriculum that provides an educational experience to complement the real-world understanding of accounting. Some of the courses you will take when you enroll with an accounting concentration include:
1. Fraud examination, detection, and deterrence in the business environment
Issues that lead to fraud most commonly start with control and ethical conduct failures at the core of a business. This two-credit class analyzes potential real-life fraud scenarios in relation to the business world. Its objective is to teach about common cases of fraud and provide students with the business resources they need to deter fraud and evaluate the conditions that are in place when it occurs. Students will learn the proper steps to take in instances of fraud and understand how to properly audit internal and external professionals associated with the business involved.
2. The impact of taxation on business entities
Taxes play a major role in the career of an accountant. This course will take a deep dive into all tax aspects to teach participants what to expect from them. Basics covered include an introduction to taxation with a major focus on employees. From C-corporations to liability companies, students will understand entity formation, liquidation and all other taxation operations that come with management accounting.
3. Financial planning and control systems for managers and consultants
In this course, students learn what it takes to plan and control major management accounting systems. Some core areas covered in this class include:
- Implementing and designing management systems
- Enhancing firm value
- Introducing incentive contracts and managing accounting data
- Devising internet-based transactions
- Balancing earnings and financial ratios
- Using balanced scorecards
- Conducting competitor analysis
- Analyzing the behaviors of budgeting, post-auditing and capital investments
- Understanding information security
By completing these concentration courses, you can feel more confident as you take the next steps to become an accountant with an MBA, gaining specialized knowledge and insight into the real world of accounting while getting a graduate degree.
Careers Paths to Pursue with a Master’s in Accounting
Pursuing a career as an accountant is one of the more obvious paths to consider after earning a master’s degree in accounting, but this isn’t the only job you can get after graduation. The following careers show job growth, excellent salaries and opportunities to exercise skills gained during an MBA with accounting concentration program:
1. Personal financial advisor
A financial advisor is a professional who helps a single person or organization manage their finances. In this case, the role would focus on an individual, helping this person plan their future goals from a financial perspective. While personal financial advisors can get work with a bachelor’s degree, a master’s in accounting, along with specific certifications like a CPA, can improve your chances of gaining the attention of an employer and working your way up the industry ladder.
The job outlook for personal financial advisors is the same as general accountants — employment is expected to grow 4% between 2019 and 2029, according to the BLS. As life expectancies continue to rise, the job demand for accountants and other financial professionals will also increase.
Beyond job demand, the salary of a personal financial advisor is also promising. The average personal financial advisor made a median salary of $87,850 in 2019, a favorable wage for professionals seeking a new area of employment.
2. Financial analyst
While personal financial advisors aid individuals through their finances, a financial analyst works primarily with businesses to provide guidance that allows them to make smart decisions regarding investments. The job outlook for financial analysts is proving even more favorable than for financial advisors, according to the BLS. Employment is anticipated to rise 5% between 2019 and 2029, a rate that’s slightly faster than average for all other occupations in the U.S. This positive job outlook is likely due to the uptick in new financial products and technology, making it essential for professionals with in-depth knowledge and experience to be available to those who are less financially literate.
The salary of a financial analyst is also a major selling point for those pursuing an MBA with accounting concentration — the median salary for this occupation was $81,590 in May 2019.
3. Budget analyst
As a budget analyst, you can work directly with individuals or tend to organizations as a whole in an effort to plan their finances and develop a budget that works for them based on their specific wants, needs and future goals. Someone pursuing a career as a budget analyst can get hired with a bachelor’s degree, but the BLS suggests that those interested in this role should take additional courses in subjects like economics, statistics and accounting. That makes an MBA with accounting concentration more appealing, as it’s a gateway to more knowledge and education that can transform you into a budgeting expert.
Employment growth for this profession is average — the job outlook is only anticipated to grow about 3% by 2029. Yet while the average annual wage is less than the previously described positions ($76,540), it’s still a favorable salary.
4. Financial manager
Any position in management can give you the upper hand in terms of salary and opportunities for job experience growth. A financial manager is tasked with the responsibility of creating financial reports, developing plans for long-term goals and directing investment activities for an organization, according to the BLS. This individual can work for businesses in various industries, such as investment firms and banks.
A financial manager is expected to have at least a bachelor’s degree and five years of experience in the industry. Someone who also has a master’s degree in accounting is even more appealing to future employers, providing a proven track record of knowledge and experience.
Those pursuing an MBA in accounting and with an interest in becoming a financial manager have many opportunities in their future: The BLS states that the employment rate for this profession is expected to grow 15% from 2019 to 2029 due to the high demand for knowledge in cash and risk management expected to come over the next decade.
The positive outlook regarding job possibilities isn’t the only thing to get excited about. Financial managers make an average salary of $129,890, a wage much higher than those attached to the positions previously listed.
Reasons to Consider the Online Master of Business Administration Program at the University of Maryland
The online MBA from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland has the necessary resources to turn students into skilled industry business leaders. Our students graduate with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed as accountants, gaining leadership, decision-making, analysis and communication skills that can set them apart from colleagues in the job market. An MBA can provide the edge you need to stand out, and we’re confident that gaining your degree from a program accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business can do just that.
If pursuing a master’s degree seems out of reach because you already maintain a busy schedule, our online program is the best next step down your professional journey. The convenience of online coursework allows you to work toward your goals without quitting your full-time job or cutting back on time spent with family and friends. Our flexible yet engaging curriculum lives up to the same academic standard as our internationally recognized on-campus MBA programs, so you can rest assured that you’re getting the most out of your educational experience.
Are you ready to take the next step in your career? To learn more about pursuing an MBA with an accounting concentration, contact us directly today.