What Accounting Career Specializations Are in High Demand?
Deepen your expertise and enhance your value with an accounting master’s degree.
Many fundamental parts of today’s accounting careers didn’t exist back in the late 1970s, when Steve DiPietro enrolled at Merrimack College. The profession has witnessed sweeping changes in everything from accounting software to tax laws, auditing practices, and management philosophies.
But that’s only to be expected, observes DiPietro, who completed his accounting degree in 1981 and worked his way up to partner at Deloitte. The business world is constantly evolving, so the accounting industry has to adapt to remain current.
The same dynamic operates within individual accounting careers. Adding specialized expertise helps you stay ahead of the curve professionally, equipping you to align your skills with industry changes before they happen.
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has developed a list of some of the most promising areas for long-range accounting career growth (see below). While a master’s degree in accounting isn’t required for all of these specializations, adding a graduate credential does raise your career’s overall trajectory.
That’s a key benefit of the Master of Science in Accounting program at Merrimack College.
“I’ve been impressed with [Merrimack’s] recognition of the significant changes in the accounting and auditing professions over the last decade,” says DiPietro, who now serves on Merrimack’s Accounting Curriculum Committee. “The college has recognized the need to continually enhance its curriculum to provide today’s students with the necessary and evolving skills required for these professions.”
Networking Puts Your Accounting Career on a Growth Trajectory
The AICPA recommends that you develop a specialization to steer your accounting career into a niche that’s in high demand, has good growth potential, or fits your organization’s strategic needs.
The AICPA lists the following four areas as especially promising for accounting career growth in today’s job market.
- Firm management. Merrimack’s graduate accounting degree stands out for its emphasis on management. It includes courses in marketing, communication, strategic analysis, business law, and other aspects of business leadership. Our master’s in accounting degree prepares you to attract good personnel, build high-functioning teams, maintain high morale, operate efficiently, and—ultimately—run a profitable accounting practice, or a successful department within a larger organization.
- Tax accounting. Tax accountants advise entities of every scale, from individual filers to large organizations. CPA firms, corporate accounting departments, and government agencies are among the employers with high demand for tax accountants. Most (but not all) tax accountants have a master’s degree in accounting. Merrimack’s accounting graduate degree includes required courses and electives that focus on federal taxation, business tax planning, and other aspects of tax accounting.
- Information management. The big-data era has created new accounting career opportunities related to information organization and analysis. Merrimack’s accounting master’s program includes specific coursework on accounting information systems. Organizations of every size and type rely on data, so high demand exists throughout the profession for accounting information expertise.
- Forensic accounting. Forensic accountants conduct investigations (both internal and external) to detect and deter fraud. Government auditors, CPA firms, financial watchdogs, and other organizations seek forensic accountants. The accounting master’s degree at Merrimack includes both required and optional coursework to develop forensic accounting skills.
Most employers regard a master’s degree in accounting as a specialization unto itself, so you don’t necessarily have to carve out a more focused area of expertise. But doing so can often add extra value to an accounting master’s degree, and put your accounting career on a faster growth track.
“[Merrimack] College has recognized the need to continually enhance its curriculum to provide today’s students with the necessary and evolving skills required for these professions.”
― Steve DiPietro ’81, former partner and managing director at Deloitte