The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 10% growth in accounting jobs between 2016-2026. While no degree guarantees a specific employment outcome, earning an MBA can increase a job candidate's prospects and earning potential. An MBA in accounting salary typically starts above $50,000. In the sections below, explore a few popular careers, salary comparisons, expert tips, and certification options.

What Can You Do With an Online MBA in Accounting

A graduate can pursue multiple careers with an accounting degree. Professionals may work for a single company or handle the financial needs of several clients. Read on for three popular accounting career paths.

Accountant Average Salary: $50,646
  • Accounting Firms
  • Payroll Services
  • Law Firms
  • Large Corporations
  • Finance and Insurance Companies

Accountants work extensively with financial records and operations. Different types of accountants serve different clients, including individuals, corporations, and government entities.

Accountants examine financial statements for accuracy and compliance with the law, compute and file owed taxes, and inspect company records and systems to ensure efficiency and compliance with accepted procedures.

Controller Average Salary: $81,627
  • Accounting Firms
  • Payroll Services
  • Large Corporations
  • Finance and Insurance Companies
  • Nonprofits

Controllers are senior-level executives who typically act as the heads of one or more of a company's financial departments, such as accounting, budget, or audit departments.

Controllers oversee financial report preparation, including balance sheets, income statements, and reports that predict a company's future financial performance and identify risk areas. They must possess excellent communication skills to explain complex concepts to individuals without finance backgrounds.

Budget Analyst Average Salary: $59,570
  • Large Corporations
  • Small Businesses
  • School Districts
  • Universities and Colleges
  • Government Offices
  • Nonprofits

A budget analyst provides assistance, analysis, and advice during an organization's budget development process. Their work involves a combination of independent effort and collaboration with program and project managers.

Budget analysts review past performance of fund allocation, review new funding requests, and assess current expenditures. They often produce reports to present relevant information to management and executives.

Sources: PayScale

Learn More About MBA Accounting Degrees, Programs, and Careers

Accounting Pay Comparison

The amount you can make with an MBA in accounting versus a bachelor's in accounting depends on many variables, including location, experience, and job title. The following chart illustrates the difference in median pay between bachelor's degree holders and master's degree holders in sample accounting jobs.

Degree Job Average Job Salary
MBA Senior Accountant $66,666
Bachelor's Accountant $50,706

Source: PayScale, 2019

Interview With an Accounting Expert

Jonathan Gorski is a Partner at Edelstein & Company, LLP, a regional CPA firm located in Boston's financial district. Jonathan has over 20 years of experience advising owners, CEOs, CFOs, controllers, and managers of privately owned businesses of all sizes and in all phases of development. He helps them maximize operational and financial efficiencies, which translate directly to the bottom line.

Over the past several years, Jonathan has developed an expertise in the healthcare sector, helping physician practices and other healthcare organizations manage their business and financial operations, along with tackling the specific challenges facing healthcare practices today. Jonathan has a bachelor of science in business administration with a concentration in accounting from the University of Massachusetts Lowell and his masters of business administration from Suffolk University.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in accounting? Is it something that has always interested you?

I have always been interested in accounting. I was fortunate enough to know in high school that I wanted to pursue an accounting degree. In my junior year, we had a project where we were the controller for a fictitious company for the entire year, and I really enjoyed the challenges it raised.

Why did you decide to pursue your MBA in addition to your accounting degree?

As I began my career in public accounting, I quickly realized how communicating with clients and other business partners was just as important as understanding the financial figures. I wanted to supplement my accounting degree and CPE certificate with an MBA to enhance the qualitative thinking portion of my skill set. Also, I am part of a firm that has incredible technical depth and realized that it would be more efficient to utilize those knowledge banks and grow my own in different areas.

How has earning your MBA advanced your career path?

A significant portion of my workload each day involves negotiating disputes, leading board meetings, developing staff, and all other aspects of communications surrounding business matters other than financial matters. My MBA has helped me to excel in those areas and truly add value to my firm, my partners, and my clients. I always say that my MBA helped me to "think better!"

How can students set themselves apart from fellow accounting and MBA graduates?

There are quite a few ways -- too many to mention them all -- but I will highlight two. First, being comfortable with continuing to learn. Tax laws change, business laws and industries change, clients change, business strategies change, etc. In this profession, learning never stops, and it is vital to continue to grow to maximize value to clients.

Many can get very caught up in just "doing the work." Second, be well rounded. Most successful people have multiple skill sets: strong technical skills, excellent management skills, great people skills, etc. You need them all, and not everyone works on them consistently. These skills can all be improved if needed -- you are not "born" with all of them.

What are some of the most rewarding aspects about working in accounting? Some of the most challenging aspects?

By far, the two most rewarding aspects of working in accounting for me is the variety and the amount of communication needed. My workload is very different every day and I love that. I can truly say that there isn't a day where I was not excited about going to work. Also, I am a people person.

The amount of communication (written and verbal) required in accounting may be one of the most underrated aspects of the profession. It is a huge part of the job. Two of the most challenging aspects for me have been maintaining strength in areas other than accounting. For example, the ability to market the firm's services or public speaking were not things I initially envisioned would be part of my career on a routine basis.

What advice would you give to students considering pursuing an MBA and a career in accounting?

I think it is an excellent idea to combine the two. An MBA is very suited to an accounting career due to the amount of consulting work that comes with the accounting career. If possible, I would also work a bit before pursuing an MBA. I found that a couple of years of work experience helped me to get the most from my classes and fellow MBA students.

What Certifications and Licenses are Needed for a Career in Accounting?

An MBA in accounting degree provides a linear pathway to CPA certification, a sought-after designation and legal requirement for any accountant who files a report with the SEC. In addition to passing the national exam, many states require CPA candidates to possess 150 credits of college coursework. A bachelor's degree in accounting requires 120 credits, so an online MBA with an accounting concentration checks off CPA candidates' credit requirement. Many accountants pursue other certifications, such as in management or internal auditing, to polish their resumes and signify expertise.

Certified Accounting Paraprofessional

This license allows accountants and auditors to place a "CAP" behind their name, denoting knowledge in accounting principles, payroll, taxes, and QuickBooks.

 

Certified Public Accountant

As the highest standard of competence for an accountant or auditor, holders of this certification have passed the Uniform CPA Examination and met state licensing requirements established by the board of accountancy.

 

Certified Management Accountant

This certification, earned through a two-part exam, proves knowledge of 11 core skills in management accounting.

 

Certified Internal Auditor

The Institute of Internal Auditors awards this certification, which signifies competence and professionalism in the field of internal auditing.

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