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Be an Accountant (salary $50K/annum) or Get a Master?



Back from New Year 2009 celebration, just ordinary-routine celebration (Pries, gifts, foods, drinks, music). Seeing young [and pretty] sister of my kindergarten mate is the only thing interesting. Why interesting? She just back from New York (U.S.A), in her family she is the only one [so far] who took “accountancy” as major in university. Although she said she would prefer “Business Administrationrather thanAccounting”, we chatted a lot about accounting [from journal entry to ERP system]. This is become more interesting; since she just graduated, and now in doubts whether to take a job offer as a “junior accountant” in Brooklyn with US$50K/annum [that she just received before the Christmas] or to get a master?

Mentioned in, this has all the elements of a career choice analysis: cost of living in a new location, earning a higher degree vs. working, and what salary is reasonable for a location, job, experience level, and employer.


So the first essential question: is $50,000/year a fair wage for a junior accountant in Brooklyn? Well, this is a hard call even for a controller [me].

Here are couple of thoughts and one more question why she is in doubts whether to take the junior account job offer or to get a master degree:

I fear I will be giving up a great opportunity with a solid job with good benefits and potential for advancement (and I could later get the Masters in BA or something I likes [as I mentioned in the beginning that she does not really love accounting). How much can an entry level in accounting expect to save the first few years anyway?


Let’s start with the easy question: is $50,000 per year good money for a recent accounting graduate? we looked at the pay by major for recent graduates last summer?

The short answer is that the typical “bachelor’s accounting graduate“, from the typical school, hired by the typical employer somewhere in the US, earned $46,000 per year, after 3 years on the job. Using this rough estimate, it looks like $50,000 to start is good money!

However, almost no one and no job is typical, so this national median is not particularly useful to answer her questions. Fortunately, the PayScale salary survey makes figuring out what a starting accountant, working for an accounting consulting firm, in Brooklyn should be paid easy.

Be Junior Accountant Or Get a Mster

As we can see, $50,000 is good, not a typical for the area that 25% of starting accountants make about US$ 50,000 or more. We also see that there is not a lot of room to make more. Only 10% make more than $54,574, so the top end of the range is only about 7% above the current offer.


Does an Accounting Master’s Pay?

To answer this question, let’s take further light research [see two below graphs].

Salary Master of Accounting

Compare with below

Bachelor Of Accounting 


An accounting master’s is good for $5,000 more to start, $7,000 per year over the first 4 years, $11,000 per year over years 5 to 9, etc. Somewhere about 7 to 10 years out, typically, is the breakeven point, where the lost income from the extra year is overcome by the higher annual wages.

But, my question is “would she even stay in accounting for the 7 years it takes to see the advantage of a Master’s?

Anyway, even in broad averages, “Masters of Business Administrationsalaries are BETTER than those for a master’s in Accounting” (I am sorry folks 😛 )

Anyway, she is clearly no slouch. She has completed a tough major (accountancy is not an easy major, is it?), done well enough to get a good job offer in a very down economy recently in U.S., and is thinking ahead about what she enjoys when making future education plans. It is not always about money 🙂

Oh ya, I am interested to put the Salary Calculator widget provided by syndication. I thought it may useful for you who want to get a rough estimation about “what is a fair pay for certain position in certain state in U.S.? Unfortunately it comes for the U.S. only so far. Please share your tought, words, opinion, or experince about this topic, give a try to below tool and vote if this tools is useful for you or not, if it usefull, I will put it here permanently as a widget.

To use this tool is as easy as 1-2-3 and go!; put any job title you desire, the city and state in U.S. wait for few seconds or minutes to load the result [depend on speed of your internet connection]. For outside of U.S. country you need to go to

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