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Master’s Degree in Accounting: Salary and Career Potential

06 Jan
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A Master of Accounting (MAcc) is a versatile and marketable degree that can open doors to numerous lucrative careers, and it’s often a requirement for high-level financial leadership positions in many industries. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the demand for accounting jobs will grow as quickly as that in other fields through the next 10 years.1

The average salary for MAcc degree holders will vary by title, business sector and physical location. Read on to explore some of the careers and salary numbers that are available to those who hold a master's degree in accounting.

Financial Controller

A financial controller oversees all of the accounting responsibilities of an organization. In a large business, this accounting professional may oversee an entire department in a primarily supervisory role. In smaller companies, a financial controller may perform more hands-on accounting tasks. Financial controllers are highly skilled leaders who usually hold a master's degree in accounting or equivalent credentials. According to salary.com, the median annual salary for a financial controller is $240,100, ranging from $199,800 to $285,000.2

The financial controller’s responsibilities will include:

  • Working with executive decision-makers to develop a guiding financial strategy that will optimize growth and minimize risk
  • Developing, evaluating, and overseeing accounting best practices for completeness, accuracy, and compliance
  • Improving efficiency in business operations by cutting costs and increasing profits
  • Managing accountants in day-to-day business operations
  • Cultivating relationships with internal stakeholders and investors, partners, vendors, and clients


In roles similar to those of financial controllers, comptrollers usually work for the government or nonprofit organizations. They're executive-level professionals who oversee the financial activities of their organization. Government agencies usually employ a comptroller as the equivalent of a chief financial officer (CFO) in a corporation. Salary.com lists the median annual salary of a comptroller as $82,580, with a range from $73,828 to $92,818.3

Comptrollers need solid technical and soft skills to perform their duties, which can include these:

  • Overseeing the accounting department and ensuring all regulations, policies, and procedures are closely followed
  • Maintaining payroll, managing accounts payable and receivable, filing all applicable taxes, and preparing financial statements
  • Supplying the financial data to leaders who need it to create forecasts, develop strategic plans, apply for loans, and create budgets
  • Protecting their organization from fraud by implementing policies and procedures that ensure integrity in financial reporting
  • Conducting risk analysis in areas such as financial operations, legal compliance, and reputation
  • Creating plans to develop growth opportunities

Senior Financial Analyst

A senior financial analyst works for financial organizations such as banks, investment funds, and insurance companies. This accounting professional can have a variety of responsibilities, depending on the company. Most of them involve analyzing investment opportunities or determining the value of mergers or acquisitions. Financial analysts use critical-thinking skills and their deep understanding of financial forces to model forecasts for the benefit of key decision-makers. Senior financial analysts earn a median annual salary of $93,890, ranging from $85,790 to $103,290.4

The senior financial analyst’s primary responsibilities include:

  • Analyzing financial data based on metrics such as yearly growth, return on assets, return on equity, and earnings per share
  • Creating reports and presentations to share findings with stakeholders
  • Providing advice regarding business investments and financial strategy
  • Overseeing financial functions, including auditing, assessing, budgeting, planning, and operating costs
  • Evaluating financial data such as capital expenses, depreciation, proposals, investments, profit plans, and financial statements

Audit Manager

An audit manager can work for a company to conduct internal audits or for a company that conducts audits of other companies. In both cases, audit managers are responsible for executing and managing audits to ensure that organizations comply with all financial obligations. Audit managers oversee a team of auditors, make recommendations regarding policies, and communicate the results of their audit to stakeholders. The median starting salary for an audit manager is $135,310, ranging from $118,090 to $156,910.5

With variation for internal and external audits, an audit manager's responsibilities can include the following:

  • Developing auditing processes
  • Conducting and overseeing audits
  • Developing and maintaining internal operating controls, practices, and policies
  • Investigating and determining the causes of irregularities
  • Reviewing accounting procedures

Finance Manager

Finance managers are primarily tasked with overseeing the financial health of their organizations. They can be put in charge of a specialized area, such as risk management or credit, or they can provide oversight for the entire organization. Their roles will vary based on the type and size of the given organization. The median annual salary for a finance manager is $125,670, though actual salaries range from $112,781 to $142,373.6

A finance manager’s responsibilities will likely include:

  • Generating financial data for reports, discovering industry trends, and determining the financial health of a business
  • Developing and overseeing the daily operations of an organization's finance department
  • Building the finance team, including recruiting, budgeting, and training junior team members
  • Overseeing the creation of quarterly and annual account reconciliations
  • Ensuring compliance with government and industry reporting standards
  • Assisting with forecasting cash flow
  • Advising management on issues related to the financial status of the company
  • Supervising the creation of financial status reports and forecasts

Give Yourself a Competitive Edge in the Financial Sector

Heighten your accounting expertise and business authority. Entirely online and designed for working professionals, William & Mary’s Online MAcc program prepares you to sit for the CPA exam and advance your career in as few as 16 months. Become a successful leader in this multifaceted field—able to see beyond numbers to analyze, interpret and communicate what they mean.

Whether your ambitions lie in public or corporate accounting, this is your opportunity to become the best possible accountant and leader in business. Explore the cutting-edge curriculum and get acquainted with the innovative experts of the MAcc faculty.

For answers to questions about the Online MAcc program, the application process, the online student experience and William & Mary’s powerful alumni network, reach out to an Admissions Advisor today.