How Much Do Accounting Majors Make

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 12 minute read

“Father of Accounting and Bookkeeping” Luca Pacioli is widely regarded as the author of the first book on double-entry bookkeeping, which was published somewhere between 1470 and 1517. A wide range of academic and professional pursuits have been incorporated into the field of accounting since its inception in the 1970s.

In today’s world, accountants are the financial sector’s doctors. Financial wellness and correcting financial dysfunction fall under the purview of these professionals. Individual clients, small businesses and multi-million dollar corporations all fall under the umbrella of an accountant’s patient.

Accountants, on the other hand, like doctors, have a wide range of daily duties depending on the field of specialization they choose to pursue. As a beginner in the field of accounting, you may want to familiarize yourself with the daily responsibilities of an accountant before diving in head first.

The list of possible specializations for accountants is long, and includes everything from government audit to forensic accounting to certified public accounting (CPA). There are a plethora of opportunities in the accounting field, and these positions represent just a small portion of those possibilities. For an accountant, the most important decision will be which accounting skills to master, just like a doctor has to decide in which field of practice they want to specialize.

We’ll cover a wide range of topics related to the most lucrative accounting degrees and careers in this guide.

Six Things to Think About Before Deciding to Specialize

  • Do you prefer to work with a single person or a group?

When asked this question, you can determine whether you want to work with one-on-one clients or as part of a larger organization. Accounting firms typically employ a set number of in-house accountants.

  • Do you want to work for a private company or a government agency?

Your career path and the prerequisites for maximizing its trajectory will be determined by this question. Examine the differences between positions in government accounting and those in the private sector when researching your career options.

  • Teaching and learning or putting theory into practice is your preference?

This question can help you determine if you’d be better suited to work in academia as a researcher or professor in the field of accounting.

Or if you’re better suited to put these skills to the test in the real world. Alternatively.

In addition, it is helpful to know what kinds of skills are required for accounting careers, such as math skills and critical thinking.

  • Do you prefer to work on more general accounting topics so that you can work in a variety of settings? Another option is to focus on specific accountancy skills in order to work in a more specialized setting.

If the answer to this question is “no,” then you may be better suited to a career in public accounting.

Or, if you’re more inclined to seek positions requiring a higher level of expertise.

  • How much do you value the security and predictability of a regular job?

A degree in entrepreneurship will help you answer this question and determine whether or not you should pursue an entrepreneurial degree.

Alternately, you may benefit more from earning a degree that is valued by traditional employers.

  • How much money do you want to make as an accountant?

Answering this question is critical because the salaries vary so greatly depending on which path one chooses.

Before you spend your time and money on an accounting degree, think about these things.

  • Advancement in education and specialized degrees are common ways for accountants to rise in the ranks.
  • In some cases, gaining real-world professional experience is the key to success.
  • As a result, the most important decision is whether to build a resume through education or through work experience.
  • Choosing a career path depends on a wide range of factors, such as one’s personal strengths, one’s desired career type, one’s professional background, and so on.
  • However, taking all of this into account leads us to the most important takeaway: focus on what you do best.
  • It’s possible that if you excel at tests and learning, you’ll want to pursue an advanced master’s or PhD in accountancy; however, if you don’t enjoy the classroom, you may want to take the most direct route to working in your chosen field by pursuing an associate’s or accelerated accounting degree. Even those with no prior work experience may opt to go into accountancy as a profession.
  • With so many accounting degree programs available to meet your needs in 2020, it is in your best interest to shop around and find a program that best suits you and accentuates your strengths as an individual and as an employee.
  • Choosing between an online and a traditional accounting degree program is a critical final step in narrowing down your educational options.
  • You may be surprised to learn that employers use your credit score as a way to gauge your suitability for the position. Be aware of the link between your credit score and your career as an accountant if you decide on a career in accounting.
  • You may not want an accountancy degree, but it can be a great stepping stone to other professional pursuits like obtaining an MBA with an accounting degree. Additionally, a career in accounting can serve as a springboard for a variety of other career paths.

Accounting Careers and Degrees with the Highest Paying Positions

  • Payscale and the Bureau of Labor Statistics provided the following data on hourly wages (BLS)
  • Graduates of accredited accounting programs can pursue a variety of rewarding careers.
  • There may be a need for financial expertise in some of these positions.


  • The typical income is $51,000
  • Education Requirements: BA/MA preferred but not required

In the course of their work, auditors use a wide range of skills to verify the credibility or falsity of an organization’s or individual’s financial statements. An auditor’s responsibilities can be performed in a wide range of settings, from federal agencies to private auditing firms. Auditor salaries may not appear to be very high, but there are many opportunities for advancement in the field.

Master’s degree holders in accounting and auditing can work their way up to supervisory auditor roles, which pay well into the six-figure range. It is possible for professionals to work their way into this position without having advanced education in order to build up a strong work history.

Accountant for taxation

  • Minimum to Maximum Salary: $49,500 – $72,250
  • Acquired Degrees: Associate’s, CPA, Bachelor’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s

Tax accountants work in a variety of settings, either in government or private sector positions, to educate their clients about tax regulations and the penalties for breaking them. Tax accountants can work one-on-one with clients or as part of a team to handle the accounting needs of larger companies.

As a result, the disparity in starting salaries listed above is due to the wide range of job types implied by the above statement. As with many of the other job categories in this section, a tax accountant can earn even more money by working in the more lucrative areas of the profession, such as federal tax accounting or the upper echelons of corporate tax accounting, both of which necessitate a graduate degree or an impressive professional resume.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

  • $73,000 is the average annual salary in the United States.
  • Requires a bachelor’s degree, CPA certification, and a master’s degree for management positions.

If you’re looking for a way to identify illegal financial maneuvers like fraud or embezzlement, you’ll need a forensic accountant. Professionals in this position are frequently called upon to testify in court or advise groups on how to prevent fraud.

Professionals in the field of forensic accounting can expect enticingly high salaries. It is possible to earn an annual salary of up to $150,000 for those who put in the time and effort to become experts in forensic accounting. Those who enjoy working with lawyers and have a strong aptitude for pattern recognition and advanced statistical analysis should consider this career path.

The professor of accounting

  • Salary on the Average: $86,5000
  • A PhD or a Master’s degree in accounting is required.

After graduating from college, some students still crave the academic atmosphere. If you fall into this category, then becoming a professor may be the best option for you. Your daily responsibilities as an accounting professor include working closely with students while also pursuing personal interests through research or consultations with business leaders.

In exchange for the autonomy and generous compensation, university professors must hold at least a master’s degree; however, a PhD is likely to be required for a position on the tenure track in most cases.

Finance and Administration Director

  • $88,600 is the average annual salary.
  • In order to apply for this position, you must have an MBA or a Master’s in Accounting.

A director of finance and administration combines a wide range of business and accounting practices. As a result, there are numerous ways to break into this field, but they are all accompanied by high entry requirements. These are the most common educational paths that lead to this position: an MBA with a focus on accounting or finance, a law degree, or a master’s degree in accounting with a strong resume.

Financial directors must be good communicators, have strong leadership qualities, and have a solid grasp of accounting principles. Accountants with entrepreneurial aspirations will love this position because it gives them the freedom to tailor their career to fit their unique interests and goals.

Accounting/Corporate Controller

  • The average salary is $95,600
  • Bachelor’s degree in accounting, Master’s degree, or PhD

The financial operations of a company are overseen by a corporate controller or accounting controller. They serve as the organization’s chief financial officer and thus serve as a figurehead for the company. It’s one of the most sought-after positions in accounting, and one of the most sought-after career goals for accountants.

One of the best accountants in the job market is required to get to this level of success. No matter how you go about it, if you want to work as an accounting controller, you’ll need to show that you have the skill set necessary to do the job flawlessly. This means that you should have a stellar academic record or a work history that shows a clear upward trajectory. This is not meant to be discouraging; rather, it should serve as a reminder of the high standards that go along with the job.

Manager of Internal Auditing

  • Pay: $97,900 a year on average
  • Master’s degree in accounting is required, with an emphasis on auditing preferred.

A company’s last line of defense when it comes to ensuring the integrity of its financial systems is an internal auditor. For the most part, executives and board members will direct teams of accountants and other auditors to conduct financial audits and compile data in response to specific inquiries. As a result, an internal auditing manager serves as a link between the finance department and the company’s upper management.

They may not have as much freedom and responsibility as an accounting controller, but an internal auditing manager is still a high-ranking employee within an organization. But because of the highly specialized skills required, their salaries are below the six-figure mark on average; however, experienced auditing managers can drive their salaries much further down.

Financial Analyst

  • There is an average wage of $98,200 per year
  • Minimum educational requirements: Bachelor’s degree in finance; a master’s or doctorate in accounting would be advantageous but not required.

Investment banker is a job title that conjures up images of a very specific job function: guiding, directing, and advising clients on the ins and outs of the investment world. Working in private practice or in a large financial firm, the investment banker’s client can be an individual or a corporation, and thus their work environment varies. Salaries can vary greatly due to the wide range of job duties, but the average isn’t shabby, and an impressive professional resume can easily double or even triple it.

As a result, investment banking is well-known for paying its employees well above the national average, although this is not necessarily true for all investment bankers. At the very least, a bachelor’s degree in accounting with a concentration in finance is required to launch a career in investment banking. A graduate degree in finance, such as an MBA, is recommended for professionals aiming for the top echelons of the salary scale in the industry.

Manager of Financial Analysis and Planning

  • Salary on the Average: $99,100
  • Requirements: Bachelor’s degree in finance; master’s degree is preferred but not required.

Comprehensive financial strategies are developed for their clients by financial planning and analysis managers who use a variety of tools and methods. Whether working with individuals or large corporations, the scope of these strategies is determined by the client’s financial resources and the organization’s overarching mission. In contrast to an investment banker, a financial planner uses a variety of strategies, including investment, to achieve their financial goals.

As a manager, you’ll command an impressive salary. Candidates for this position should have excellent interpersonal and communication skills, as well as a thorough understanding of financial planning principles and a specific area of expertise. A bachelor’s degree in finance is the minimum requirement for entry into the field of financial planning as a managing financial planner, but higher education and more extensive experience are needed to reach this position earlier in one’s career.

Chief Financial Officer

  • Salary on the Average: $111,300
  • Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD preferred; MBA is an optional degree.

Having a financial director puts you in a more senior position within an organization. As a result, financial directors tend to be C-level executives with a diverse background in both the business world and academia. If you’ve been working in financial planning for a long time, you’re more likely to land this kind of position than someone who’s just starting out.


If you want to land this job, you’ll need to show that you’re an expert in your field as well as an all-around success story. The last three jobs on this list require both work experience and advanced education, as discussed in the sections above.

Deputy Chief Financial Officer (Chief Financial Officer)

  • The typical income is $130,200.
  • Requires a Master’s or PhD, but an MBA or a specialization in law is also acceptable.

A CFO is the next step up from a financial planning manager, just as a financial director was before him. In order to become a chief financial officer, a person must have achieved a high level of success in his or her career, as well as have spent a significant amount of time working for a company. To put it another way, this position is typically given to individuals who have not only excelled in the larger financial industry, but also demonstrated superiority in inter-organizational relations.

As a result, there is no one-size-fits-all path to success in this field, but there are plenty of things one can do to improve their odds. It is common for CFOs to have multiple degrees and certifications, including an MBA and a law degree with various certifications. If you want to be a top financial executive, you’ll need to know everything there is to know about business and networking.

Managing Director of Finance.

  • The typical income is $134,700.
  • Master’s, PhD, MBA, or law degree/specialization is not required, but is strongly preferred.

It is a rare opportunity for a professional to serve as both a chief executive officer and a chief financial officer in one position. All of the responsibilities and responsibilities of running a large business or corporation may fall under this umbrella. Working closely with the CEO and any board members or trustees is a priority. They are second in command only to the company’s president in terms of day-to-day operations, and they are responsible for overseeing all financial operations within the company as well as directing the overarching strategies of all divisions within the company.

It’s difficult to give advice on how to prepare for this position because it’s so unique. A company’s size and type will have an impact on how well you prepare for this role. I think the most practical advice is to join a startup or start your own company so that you can get the hands-on experience you need to become a vice president of finance in an established company. The most advanced degree you can earn in your area of interest, such as an MBA or a law degree, is essential for general educational preparation.

A Few Last Thoughts on the High-Paying Field of Accounting

  • Accounting, like medicine, is characterized by a variety of subspecialties. Similar but distinct educational backgrounds will be required for an IRS investigator and a budget analyst. As a result, make an informed decision about your future career path early on.
  • In spite of the fact that this may seem like a daunting task, it’s never too early to get started. Even in high school, you can begin preparing for a career in accounting.
  • To ensure that your education and career goals are aligned, determine how long it will take you to complete your accounting degree.
  • Consider the advantages of a general accounting degree over an accounting associate’s or master’s degree in light of your career goals. It’s possible that you place a high value on earning an accounting degree as quickly as possible. For example, you may discover that an MBA in accounting is the best course of action for your career.
  • You should review the highest-paying jobs with a general accounting degree, associate’s degree, or master’s degree, and then select the entry-point into the jobs that best match your goals after you’ve chosen your degree path.
  • Inquire about class prerequisites, degree comparisons or anything else you’d like to know about below.
  • The most important thing to keep in mind is that no one’s path to happiness is a perfectly straight line. Take care of yourself and don’t give up until you reach your goals, so be flexible and resilient.
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