If you’re seeking a master’s degree in accounting, chances are you already work in the field or have an interest in securing employment in the field. So it’s no secret to you that the profession offers job security and strong salaries for those with a bachelor’s degree and Certified Public Accountant status.

So why earn a Master of Science in Accounting? What’s the return on investment? Everyone’s experience varies. However, in terms of practical return on investment, the advantages tend to fall into three areas.

  • The skills to take on higher level leadership roles within your current organizations
  • The ability to earn more money
  • The opportunity to get the top jobs at CPA firms and as a consultant, according to the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA)

Here’s a look at each area.

Executive Positions with a Master’s Degree in Accounting

For those with ambitions to attain the top jobs in accounting, a master’s degree can open the door to positions such as controller, chief accounting officer (CAO) and chief financial officer (CFO). These positions are among the most challenging and critical jobs in any organization. Quality accountants are needed in any type of organization. That includes public accounting, private businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

The demand is there for professionals willing to commit to earning a graduate degree. The federal government projects 19% growth in the financial manager field – one that includes CFOs, CAOs, treasurers, and controllers. In Massachusetts, that growth is expected to reach 17.2%.

Keep in mind that while a bachelor’s degree might technically qualify you for a leadership position, many employers today want candidates with a master’s degree in accounting or a related field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Better Salaries

In Massachusetts, accountants make an impressive mean annual salary of $80,280, according to the BLS. However, for financial managers – many of whom have master’s degrees – the mean annual salary is $142,370.

That alone shows the difference a master’s degree can make. Massachusetts is also among the top five states for the number of financial managers employed. The Boston area has the third highest number of financial managers among all metropolitan areas in the country, behind only New York City and Chicago.

Skills Needed in Accounting

As noted above, many accounting firms now want to hire those with master’s degrees to take on the most select jobs. The AICPA reports that “today, it’s almost a prerequisite to have a 5-year master’s degree in accounting to join a CPA firm—and if you want to be a consultant.”

The human resources director at BeachFleischman PC in Arizona also told the AICPA that “there are no cons” to earning a master’s degree because “advanced degreed students right out of school are more attractive to us.”

In addition to knowing the latest in tax regulations and strategies, graduate students also are better prepared for the CPA exam should this be a career aspiration.

These three factors showcase the benefits of earning a master’s degree in accounting. It’s already a stable and potentially lucrative field for those with undergraduate degrees. However, earning a master’s degree offers advantages for those with the right mix of talent, skills, and ambition.