The entry-level education for many accounting jobs is a bachelor’s degree, which only prepares students to take on smaller roles in their field. But after completing an online master’s degree in accounting, graduate students will be ready to maximize their professional potential and be better placed to take on more responsible roles. While nothing prevents someone with an online master in accounting from working as a bookkeeper or auditing clerk, the main reason students will attend accounting master’s programs is to become a Certified Public Accountant Examination (CPA).
The curriculum of most master’s accounting programs in business schools and advance collegiate schools, is specifically tailored to prepare students to take and pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (CPA Exam). This exam consists of four sections that can be completed over two days. However, students may take only one section at a time, as long as they complete and pass all four sections within 18 months.
Beyond passage of the Certified Public Accountant Exam, each state may have its own requirements. For example, most states require CPAs to have taken at least 150 credit hours of college courses. And once a person becomes a CPA, they must meet their states’ continuing education requirements to maintain their CPA license.
And beyond the CPA designation, accountants and auditors may obtain additional certifications, offered by professional organizations such as the Institute of Internal Auditors, ISACA, Institute of Management Accountants, and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. An example of such certification is the Certified Management Accountant (CMA).
After earning the CPA credential, individuals will be able to maximize their ability to work as a public accountant or internal auditor. For example, it is common for graduates to work at one of the “Big Four” accounting firms: PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, or KPMG. One of the more notable services these companies provide is the auditing of financial statements prepared internally by major public corporations. To do much of this work, individuals are legally required to be a CPA. Another popular career path is to become a financial examiner. These professionals review an organization’s finances to ensure they are following applicable laws and regulations. They may also evaluate credit risks and make other financial assessments.
When compared to individuals who have only an undergraduate degree in accounting, the growth and earnings potential for accounting professionals who have graduated from an online master, are very good. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that accountants and auditors take home a median annual salary of $73,560 with a projected 2019 to 2029 growth rate of 4%. As for financial examiners, their growth rate is projected to be 7%, with a median annual salary of $81,430, while that of financial managers is expected to grow 15%, with a median annual salary of $134,180.
Graduates of accounting degree programs can also go on to work in a global accounting environment, and other areas of accounting or areas related to accounting, some of which include but are not limited to:
- Data Analytics
- Accounting Analytics
- Accounting Information Systems
- Financial Management
- Business Administration
- Advanced Auditing
- Professional Accountancy
- Business Law
- International Accounting
- Forensic Accounting
- Tax Planning
- Financial Reporting
- Financial Statement Analysis
- Advanced Financial Accounting