A master’s degree in accounting is the right choice for professionals who possess the hard and soft skills needed for leadership. Earning a master’s degree in accounting opens the door to the best jobs in the profession, giving graduates the expertise needed to take on decision-making roles in an organization.

Online courses have made earning a graduate accounting degree convenient, allowing students to fit coursework around busy professional and personal lives. For most students, it’s worth making the commitment. Accounting remains a stable profession with a strong salary and room for advancement.

That need is never going away as long as organizations need qualified people to oversee how they take in and spend money. Accountants have become key players in developing business strategy alongside executives.

Demand for Accountants

Numbers compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show the demand for accountants remains strong. The BLS projects a 10% increase in the number of accountants by 2026. That means about 1.5 million will work in accounting by the middle of the decade.

Currently, the high population states have the largest number of accountants. These states include California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois. New York City leads the cities with the most accountants, followed by Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, Dallas, Houston, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and San Francisco.

What Is Driving the Growth?

The BLS points to economic growth as the main driver of the need for more accountants. The explosion in the amount of business conducted on the internet in the last decade has led to the need for qualified people to oversee the financial operations of those businesses. More companies going public has also driven the need for qualified accountants.

Globalization has led to the need for more accountants to ensure that a company works within the parameters of each country’s set of regulations and laws. Accountants with international expertise are highly coveted.

More accountants are becoming active in what is known as strategic accounting. This involves developing financial models that show executives possible outcomes for decisions they make today. They may also help determine if moving into a new market will provide the hoped-for return on investment.

Advantages of a Master’s Degree in Accounting

Why earn a master’s degree in accounting? Most students enter advanced accounting programs because a master’s degree prepares them to take on leadership roles. They may lead teams on accounting-related projects or provide a point of contact for executives who engage with the accounting team.

They may also take what they learn in a master’s accounting degree program to move into executive positions.

Armed with a master’s degree, accountants can consider jobs in many different areas. Below are three of the categories where many of these jobs fall.

Public accounting. In this sector, accountants handle all the financial-related work associated with public filings (tax returns and financial statement audits) for businesses, individuals, not-for-profits, and government agencies. They can also be involved with developing the complex paperwork needed to take a company public.

Government accounting. This may involve forensic accounting. In that role, accountants review the financial records of public companies, ensuring that those companies have complied with all laws. Accountants in this role may work for the Securities and Exchange Commission. Government accountants often oversee the financials of a government agency.

Corporate accounting. Corporate accountants perform all the internal accounting work—such as financial reporting, taxes, and internal and management auditing— for private companies.

One of the immediate advantages of earning a master’s degree in accounting is that it helps you meet the 150 credit hours needed to sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam.

Earning a master’s degree in accounting is a big commitment of time for a working professional. However, it can provide the knowledge and skills needed to move into some of the more rewarding jobs in the profession.