Every accounting professional is familiar with the concept of ROI, or “return on investment.” But what’s the ROI of a master’s degree when it comes to a career in accounting?
Whether you’ve just graduated with a bachelor’s degree or have been in the field for years, earning a master’s degree in accounting can help you develop the skills necessary to thrive in any industry discipline.
Here are five ways a master’s degree can provide you with advanced skills to further your career:
1. Advanced Reporting and Analysis
A master’s degree can greatly improve your understanding of accounting and advanced financial processes. In an industry where information is everything, today’s accountants must possess the skills necessary to analyze a company’s financial data and help them refine a strategy for the future. This competency naturally includes familiarity with the latest accounting software platforms and understanding how these tools integrate with a company’s larger operating system to streamline every aspect of their business.
2. Forensic Accounting Techniques
Forensic accounting investigates fraud and other irregularities concealed in a company’s books. Forensic investigators are often called upon to uncover financial crimes and may be asked to testify in court. However, forensic accounting is about more than corporate scandals. It’s also about ensuring compliance and the use of accurate information in a company’s business dealings. Having these specialized skills can increase your value as an employee and help you land a better position at an accounting firm.
3. Regulatory Compliance
Regulatory compliance might be thought of as the flip side of forensic accounting. While the latter investigates breaches into corporate ethics, compliance aims to help companies follow the rules. To do this, accountants must possess a working knowledge of the legal guidelines that govern corporate accounting and help businesses and clients comply with these regulations. An MBA with a specialization in accounting will provide exposure to these legal requirements themselves and help develop practical strategies for remaining in full compliance with all local and federal guidelines.
4. Account Reconciliation
Technically, account reconciliation doesn’t require an advanced degree. According to the career website Zippia, more than two-thirds of reconciliation analysts hold a bachelor’s degree. However, with a master’s degree, you’ll learn advanced account reconciliation and analysis techniques and become more efficient at surfacing irregularities and discrepancies. While master’s-level accountants might not exclusively serve as reconciliation analysts, having this skill can expand your horizons and may make you more adept at managing accounting teams.
5. Leadership Skills
According to Michael Cooke, executive vice president at the Execu Search Group, accounting firms are increasingly looking for leadership skills among their members. “Firms are looking for the next generation of leadership,” says Cooke, which means accounting firms “want someone who…has the drive to see the firm succeed as a whole.” Obtaining a master’s degree can help you develop and demonstrate the types of leadership skills that are increasingly in demand among top accounting firms.
The Road Ahead for Accounting Professionals
Accountants have many career paths to choose from, most of which will involve professional certification. A master’s program can make it easier to prepare for the CPA exam, and it can also increase your chances of being hired by a company or accounting firm. In an age where accountants occupy increasingly specialized fields, a master’s degree can help you develop the skills you need to advance your career.