It’s tempting to believe that undertaking further university study is the best route to career progression, but that may not stand up to scrutiny across all industries. There are a number of reasons why undertaking a masters degree could prove beneficial for prospective or current accountants, but building your career is not necessarily the only one. Applicants must also bear in mind the financial cost, whether or not they can balance further study alongside their work responsibilities and whether other routes to career progression might be more suitable.


Reasons for doing a masters

Undertaking a masters degree can certainly provide benefits for those with accountant jobs, and further study in any career can prove enriching. Some of the best reasons for doing a masters in accounting or a related financial subject include: 

• Furthering your passion for accountancy and gaining a better understanding of financial management. Masters degrees are a great way of building knowledge and undertaking personal research projects in an area that you find interesting.

• Developing your contacts in the world of finance. Not only will you be able to network with other students, undertaking a masters will bring you into contact with experts in your particular field. It also provides students with an opportunity to make a name for themselves by completing a well-respected thesis or dissertation.

• Demonstrating to current and prospective employers that you have self-discipline as well as organisation and project management skills that would prove useful in the world of work.




The drawbacks

One of the main drawbacks of completing a masters is that some individuals do so without having much focus. Don’t just undertake further study for the sake of it or under the impression that it will automatically place you above other candidates in the job market. Study the course content carefully and assess if a masters will benefit you. It should also be remembered that while having a masters does demonstrate certain skills, it is not a requirement for many employers. That means it’s up to candidates to convince recruiters that their masters has been worthwhile. Masters degrees also cost thousands of pounds to complete and may require you to study full-time for at least 12 months. Those in the accountancy profession will have to weigh this up against practical experience gained in the workplace. 







Possible alternatives




For accounting professionals who are hoping to boost their career progression there are other ways of doing so besides studying for a masters. Continual professional development (CPD) options include studying for professional qualifications that can be completed while remaining in employment. Professional bodies like the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA) offer courses for professional accountants that will help refresh and update their skills, ensuring that their knowledge remains relevant even as the industry changes. Becoming a member of these professional bodies also provides excellent networking opportunities that could give individuals a real career boost.