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Which Delivers Best ROI, an MBA or CPA?

  • MBA Alvernia

It used to be that a person earned an undergraduate degree in accounting, worked a few years and then sat for the Certified Public Accounting (CPA) exam. Lately, there has been a growing debate as to which delivers a better ROI (return on investment):  the CPA or the MBA.

Why would an accountant want an MBA degree? Here are two reasons.

First, an MBA increases your employment options.  As you get more senior in your accounting career, you spend less time doing hands-on accounting and more time dealing with the complexities of business.

Denny Reigle, consultant to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants says, “So an MBA will add value but it’s an investment that pays off later and in the longer term.”

Second, an MBA can increase your earning potential. The publication, “New Accountant” reports that a recent compensation survey compared the salaries and education levels of accounting/financial positions, ranging from chief corporate financial officer to junior accounting clerk.

“The study finds that CFOs without a degree have a median salary of only $38,920, BA/BS/BBAs earn $88,836, while MBAs receive $104,284 – quite a return for a few semesters of higher education.”

Perhaps the best advice for accountants is to consider both a CPA and an MBA.

In Pennsylvania, like many other states, you’ll need 150 hours of education to sit for the CPA exam. You can combine your undergraduate degree and your MBA classes towards that goal. One finance careers expert recommends this path to getting both the CPA and MBA:

“If you’d like to get both an MBA and a CPA, start with an undergraduate degree in finance, economics or accounting, and go to work for a public accounting firm.

In three years, you can apply to a local MBA program and sit for the CPA exam. Your CPA firm will have the resources you need to study. Plus, you don’t want to wait too long before taking the exam.

Next, head back to school for that MBA. Go part-time, and stay at your CPA firm either full- or part-time.”

CPAs are considered trusted business advisors. Yet business is moving at an accelerating pace. The different courses in an MBA program, such as management, economics and marketing can be beneficial for accountants in today’s marketplace.

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