What careers are available with a master’s in accounting?

Everyone needs an accountant. Some clients need far more than one, actually. Even if you were not an accounting major as an undergraduate, it is never too late to make the transition. Here are a few industries in which you will be able to find work with a master’s degree in accounting:

Public Accounting

This is the most common career path for accounting graduates, at least in the first three to five years after they graduate from their degree programs. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Ernst & Young, KPMG and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu—known worldwide as the “Big Four” audit and professional services firms—form something of an oligopoly in the world’s public accounting market. These firms combined to generate over $110 billion in revenue during the 2013 fiscal year, and each one regularly appears in numerous publications’ “best places to work” and “best places to launch a career” lists. They generally hire only the best students, so hit the books and gain relevant experience if you hope to land a job working in one of their offices. Smaller regional firms exist too, though, so you are not limited to the Big Four if you wish to start your career in public accounting.

In-House or Industry Accounting

Businesses and other entities hire accountants to perform internal audit functions, tax planning, earnings calculations, budget management, investment and other finance-related tasks. These in-house accounting positions typically require experience in a public accounting firm, government accounting office or some similar environment. Industry accountants have an inside track to promotion within the company’s ranks, often moving up the ladder to VP- or even chief-level positions. The odds of such a promotion as an in-house accountant are much higher than those of making partner at a public accounting firm, too.

Management Consulting

The Big Four firms listed above all have advisory divisions, through which they provide management consulting services to their clients. Business and non-business entities hire consulting firms to determine where they can cut their budgets and by exactly how much. Consultants also perform regression analyses, identify new markets and business strategies, . This line of work generally involves a great deal of traveling—usually four days per week, with few exceptions—and may be less desirable for those who are neither young nor single.

Financial Management or Advising

After working in accounting, many professionals choose to pursue careers in financial management and advising. Financial management jobs are typically found within large business organizations. In this type of environment, financial professionals are responsible for developing the organization’s budget and assessing its investment strategies, among other things. Many financial advising companies focus their practice on individuals, helping them save for retirement, maximize the return on their investments in various companies or commodities, manage their monthly payments and much more.


Graduating with an accounting degree will open a vast number of professional doors. It will allow you to pursue virtually any finance-related line of work you choose, which makes majoring in accounting a wise decision if you value having an in-demand degree that offers professional and geographic flexibility.