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Accounting Major

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Accounting

20,770 Master's Degrees Annually
45 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#6 in Popularity (Master's)
$78,820 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Accounting Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many accounting graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 20,770
Graduate Certificate 1,089
Doctor’s Degree 45

What Accounting Majors Need to Know

In an O*NET survey, accounting majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.

Knowledge Areas for Accounting Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

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  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Economics and Accounting - Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking and the analysis and reporting of financial data.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Skills for Accounting Majors

When studying accounting, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

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  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Abilities for Accounting Majors

As you progress with your accounting degree, there are several abilities you should pick up that will help you in whatever related career you choose. These abilities include:

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  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

What Can You Do With a Accounting Major?

People with a accounting degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Accountants 10.0% $70,500
Auditors 10.0% $70,500
Budget Analysts 6.5% $76,220
Business Professors 18.0% $83,960
Credit Analysts 8.3% $71,520
Financial Analysts 10.8% $85,660
Financial Examiners 9.7% $80,180
Financial Managers, Branch or Department 18.7% $127,990
Tax Preparers 10.7% $39,390
Treasurers and Controllers 18.7% $127,990

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Accounting?

20,770 Master's Degrees Annually
55% Percent Women
27% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This is one of the most frequently chosen graduate majors. It is the 6th most popular in the country with 20,770 students graduating with a master’s in accounting in 2019. This major is dominated by women with about 55% of recent graduates being female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of accounting majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Accounting Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 1,764
Black or African American 1,364
Hispanic or Latino 2,049
White 11,143
International Students 3,083
Other Races/Ethnicities 1,367

Geographic Diversity

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in Accounting. About 14.8% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • South Korea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Vietnam
  • Taiwan

How Much Do Accounting Majors Make?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

According to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education, students who graduated with a master’s degree in accounting have a median salary of $56,600 during the early years of their career. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $53,350 (25th percentile) and $60,325 (75th percentile).

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One thing to note here is that not all of these people may be working in careers related to accounting.

Salaries According to BLS

Accounting majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $50,110 to $90,310 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for an Accounting Major  ( 50110 to 90310 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some careers associated with accounting require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to accounting have obtained the following education levels.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 0.5%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 14.4%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 3.9%
Some College Courses 9.6%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 8.4%
Bachelor’s Degree 40.0%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 3.2%
Master’s Degree 13.8%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 0.3%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 0.6%
Doctoral Degree 5.7%
Post-Doctoral Training 0.1%

Online Accounting Programs

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 2,228 schools offered some type of accounting program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 675 200
Certificate (1-2 years) 649 178
Certificate (2-4 Years) 21 6
Associate’s Degree 1,056 318
Bachelor’s Degree 172 58
Post-Baccalaureate 675 200
Master’s Degree 621 157
Post-Master’s 18 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 22 1
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Accounting Worth It?

The median salary for a accounting grad is $78,820 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 98% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $778,400 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to accounting.

Major Number of Grads
Business Administration & Management 135,757
Management Sciences & Quantitative Methods 14,136
Human Resource Management 10,770
General Business/Commerce 10,236
Finance & Financial Management 6,277
Marketing 3,308
Management Information Systems 3,158
International Business 2,417
Entrepreneurial Studies 1,778
Taxation 1,611
Other Business, Management & Marketing 1,240
Real Estate 1,186
Hospitality Management 1,072
General Sales & Marketing 637
Construction Management 507
Business/Managerial Economics 267
Specialized Sales, Merchandising & Marketing 221
Insurance 173
Business/Corporate Communications 80
Telecommunications Management 38
Business Support & Assistant Services 0

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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