Published 06 December, 2018
Where can a master’s degree in accounting take you?
There are many pathways to a career in accounting, so key factors like your previous experience, qualifications, and the goals you are hoping to achieve in your career, will help determine if a master’s degree in accounting is the right fit for you.
If you’re from a non-accounting background, but meet certain criteria, a master’s degree in accounting can enable you to move into a career in accounting. For practising accountants, it can help extend your knowledge of the field or learn a new specialisation. It’s also a great option if you are a graduate of an accounting program and want to be eligible for admission into professional programs offered by CPA Australia, CA ANZ and ACCA.
As a postgraduate student, you already have a certain level of study and work experience under your belt. Making the decision to take on a master’s qualification is often a move undertaken by accounting professionals who want to be promoted to more senior roles in an organisation.
An analysis conducted by PostgradAustralia.com.au looked at the difference in average annual income of individuals (aged 25 to 60) with a postgraduate degree, compared to those with only an undergraduate qualification. It revealed that professionals with a master’s degree earn on average $400,000 more over the course of their career, compared to those only holding a bachelor’s degree. One of the main factors contributing to this gap, is that a master’s degree often qualifies professionals to be promoted to higher-paying positions.
Meet Lily Sandra.
Lily Sandra graduated from a Master of Accounting at Kaplan Business School in April this year at the Melbourne campus. She is currently working as a financial accountant in the private sector where she is responsible for preparing financial reports and analysis to help inform management about the business’ strategic financial decisions.
Lily had previously completed an undergraduate degree in accounting and was ready to take the next step in her accounting career.
I had been thinking about studying a business-based master’s degree for a while but wasn’t sure what route to take. My undergraduate qualification was in accounting and I felt a more vocational master would be a great step-up in my career. I did some research about business schools in Melbourne. My aim was to find one that would help me improve my practical skills, so I focused on business schools that would offer small class sizes to allow for plenty of interaction between the lecturer and students. I think two-way communication is an important aspect of a master’s level of education.
– Lily Sandra, Indonesian (Master of Accounting graduate)
Based on Lily’s current working experience and reflecting on her time studying, here are some of the key advantages that she feels she gained from studying a master’s degree in accounting:
1. Lifelong learning
At the closing session of the World Congress of Accountants (WCOA) in Sydney in November 2018, Matt Tindale, the Australia and New Zealand managing director of professional network website LinkedIn, said that to stay on top of the accounting game, professionals needed to “adopt an ethos of continual learning”.
The learning environment of a masters is also different to an undergraduate level, and the style of teaching and mix of students can help to gain a deeper level of understanding of the subject matter.
A variety of learning models were used in the classroom such as inquiry-based learning, project based-learning, peer-to-peer learning, e-learning and many others. Tutorials were planned so we could obtain the most current and essential knowledge, as well as learn to apply our knowledge and skills to actual business situations. – Lily
2. Networking opportunities
There are currently 6 million accountants on LinkedIn globally. Networking is crucial to helping identify job opportunities, finding mentors that can offer valuable career advice and staying current in the accounting industry. Research shows that people who receive organised introductions made more new contacts and stronger connections than those without a formal introduction.
The master’s program has a strong focus on professional networking. During tutorials, we listened to guest speakers from a wide range of backgrounds including representatives from accounting software companies such as XERO and MYOB. I was able to build connections and it also helped me to work out my specific interests within the field of accounting. I believe the links with CPA Australia and a range of top employers are invaluable to senior career progression. – Lily
3. Career advancement
The practical application of knowledge can be more valuable when you are studying at a master’s level because you already have an existing foundation of knowledge and often some type of experience in the working world. A master’s degree in accounting will hone your analytical skills, with advanced level vocational training in how to apply accounting principles to the workplace, using the most up-to-date technology and practices. This can help to build skills, confidence and improve performance, leading to opportunities for career progression into more senior roles.
In one of the management accounting subjects, we played a simulation game about theories and discussed how to implement theories and research done individually, whereby students can connect the useful theories to real-world business situations. This has increased my skills and confidence in my day-to-day working role. – Lily