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CAREER GUIDE Master of Science, Accounting

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Career guide: accounting.

Although many entry-level accounting and auditing jobs only require a bachelor’s degree, earning a master’s degree and receiving a Certified Public Accounting (CPA) certification opens a host of new career options in a field that is experiencing steady growth and consistently strong demand. In many organizations, a master’s degree in accounting enables lower- and mid-level accountants and auditors to advance into higher-level positions. Some businesses—especially large, established investment and accounting firms—also prefer to hire applicants with master’s degrees over those with bachelor’s degrees. As a result, earning a master’s degree in accounting from an accredited university provides a strong foundation for top corporate, public, and government accounting jobs at the best firms. It can also provide the hours and preparation necessary to pass the CPA, Certified Management Accounting (CMA), and Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) exams.

Job listing growth 2016–2026.

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Career opportunities.

Accountants play a crucial role in the success of large corporations, small businesses, and government agencies around the world, which translates into consistently high demand and competitive salaries—especially for those with a CPA certificate or other advanced credentials. A master’s degree in accounting may provide the additional preparation and hours needed to successfully earn those credentials, as well as preparing graduates to succeed in higher-level executive positions or become owners or partners in their own accounting firms.

Positions in the field.

  • Chief financial officer (CFO)
  • Corporate treasurer
  • Vice president or director of finance
  • Corporate accountant
  • Forensic accountant
  • Corporate controller
  • Corporate auditor
  • Corporate compliance analyst
  • Corporate financial or budget analyst
  • Financial reporting analyst
  • Public tax accountant
  • Public auditor
"My ultimate goal was the graduate degree; once I made the decision to get it from WGU, there was no reason for me to wait." Rafael VanDyke
MBA IT Management

Job market forecast.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand for accountants and auditors will remain strong through 2026, with growth that outpaces other careers in the financial sector and the average for all occupations. To some extent, this growth will be linked to the overall economy. As companies grow and go public, they will need more accounting professionals to handle complex financial documentation. In addition, a trend toward stricter laws, new regulations, and tighter lending standards will drive the need for more accounting and auditing services.

Job growth 2016–2026.

Work environment.

The 1.3 million accounting and auditing professionals in the United States work for an incredibly diverse range of organizations across virtually every industry—from giant public accounting firms and multi-national corporations to government agencies and small businesses. As a result, the hours and types of work environments can vary greatly. A master’s degree, CPA certification, or other advanced accounting credentials may lead to upper-level accounting jobs, executive roles, or positions with large prestigious firms, which often translates into more responsibility and longer hours as well as higher salaries. In 2014, about one in five accountants worked more than 40 hours per week, and many accountants in leadership roles are expected to work extra hours during tax season or near the end of their employer’s budget year.

Professional organizations.

Job search resources.

Are you curious about current accounting career opportunities that require a master’s degree in accounting or advanced accounting credentials? Check out these resources for an up-close look at some of the upper-level jobs that are available today.

Salary stats.

Thanks to consistently high demand, accountant salaries are rising quickly. In 2017, the average annual accounting salary was $69,350, up from around $60,000 in 2006.  However, people in higher-level executive accounting positions like chief financial officer, vice president of finance, and corporate controller can earn much higher salaries.

Average salary of jobs with related titles.


Public, private, and government accountants provide essential auditing functions, tax services, management consulting, and other financial services for thousands of organizations around the world. An accounting career offers good salaries, excellent opportunities for advancement, and a diverse range of specialties—especially for those who pursue advanced accounting degrees and certifications. A master’s degree in accounting from a respected, accredited institution puts you in an excellent position to accelerate your current accounting career and compete for top accounting jobs with the best companies and accounting firms.

Next Start Date.

Jun 1

Start the 1st of any month—as soon as you complete enrollment!


Your career’s next step: Earn a degree.

Ready to jump-start your career in accounting? The next step could be earning your M.S. Accounting. Accredited, competency-based WGU offers this degree online for at a surprisingly affordable flat-rate tuition. Flexible enough for a working adult’s schedule with the option to accelerate, your degree may be closer than you think!