FAQ: What Is a Ph.D. in Accounting? (Plus Salary and Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published August 4, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Related: Becoming an Accountant

Are you interested in a career as an accountant, but are not sure how to start preparing for it? We have you covered!

A Ph.D. in accounting can prove to be a rewarding and successful advanced degree to obtain. If you're interested in the field of accounting and want to pursue a high-level position, earning a doctorate degree can help increase your opportunities. It can be helpful to know the benefits and salary you may receive if you pursue a Ph.D. in accounting to guide you on a career path for your future.

In this article, we explore frequently asked questions about what a Ph.D. in accounting is, the benefits of degree concentration, job titles you may hold with this type of degree, accounting certifications you may consider obtaining and salary and job outlook information for the role.

Related: How To Choose the Right Accounting Career Path for You

What is a Ph.D in accounting?

A Ph.D. in accounting is a terminal degree, which is the highest academic degree you can obtain in a certain field, in the field of accounting. This type of degree requires students to pursue original research in addition to completing a set amount of coursework to expand their knowledge of the field. Having a Ph.D. in accounting can prove your knowledge and competence as a professional accountant.

It's common for Ph.D. in accounting programs to require prospective students to submit Graduate Management Admission Test or Graduate Record Examinations scores to qualify to pursue this type of education, so students usually have a solid, extensive background in academics.

Related: What Is a Doctoral Degree? (With Requirements and Tips)

Benefits of getting degree concentration

There are a variety of different benefits you may receive from getting a degree concentration, including:

  • Earning specialized knowledge: You may gain knowledge that allows you to pursue specific roles in specialized areas.

  • Filling a niche: You may have the opportunity to fill a niche in the business field by concentrating your doctorate degree.

  • Pursuing your interests and goals: You can pursue exactly what you're interested in learning more about by choosing a concentration.

  • Increasing employment chances: You find increased employment opportunities if you qualify to fill more high-ranking positions with your concentrated degree.

Related: Learn About Being an Accountant

Potential job titles for professionals with a Ph.D. in accounting

As an accounting professional with a Ph.D., there are usually several different job titles that you may hold once you obtain a role in the field. Here are some common ones:

  • Finance manager

  • Professor of accounting

  • Auditor

  • Chief financial officer (CFO)

  • Account executive

  • Accountant

  • Professor of finance

Related: Types of Accounting Degrees

How long does it take to get a Ph.d. in accounting?

The amount of time it takes to earn a Ph.D. in accounting can vary by person. All doctoral programs for accounting require you to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. Earning this degree can take upwards of four years. Accounting doctoral programs also require you to have a master's degree from an accredited university in addition to having a bachelor's degree. Earning a master's degree can take one or more years. Typically, the amount of time you spend actively pursuing a doctoral degree in accounting varies, but falls between four to seven years.

It's important to note that this length of time depends very heavily on the school you're studying for an accounting Ph.D. at, the specific program you're participating in and the criteria you meet to receive admission into the program. It also varies based on your own personal pace.

Related: 7 Accounting Tasks and Duties

What's the salary and job outlook for accountants?

Professionals with Ph.D.'s in accounting can hold a variety of different jobs. On average, accountants earn $53,555 per year. Finance managers earn $91,229 per year. For the most up-to-date salaries from Indeed, visit indeed.com/salaries.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for accountants and the related role of auditors are expected to rise 7%, which is about as fast as average, from the years 2020 to 2030. According to the BLS, job opportunities for finance managers are expected to grow 17% from the years 2020 to 2030, which is much faster than average.

Related: A Guide To Life as an Accountant: Duties and Experiences

What skills do you need to be an accountant?

Professional accountants typically have a wide set of skills that allow them to succeed in their role, including hard skills, which are technical, quantifiable skills and soft skills, which tend to be personality and character-based skills. Common account skills typically include the following:

Communication skills

Communication skills are important skills to have as an accountant. Being able to conduct yourself in a professional, clear manner while speaking and writing helps you to represent your capability. Being a good communicator is also important in conveying information to clients or colleagues. Communicating in an effective manner can ensure that your clients are as informed and up-to-date as possible.

Adaptability skills

Being able to adapt to changing accounting rules, laws and policies is an important skill to have as an accountant. It can help make you more efficient and flexible in handling any issues you may encounter. For instance, if a client wants you to use new accounting software to complete their tax return on, but you're not familiar with this accounting software, having adaptability skills may allow you to learn how to use it and succeed.

Analytical skills

As an accountant, you're required to carefully review large masses of information. Having excellent analytical skills can help you accurately and wholly interpret information. These skills can also help you identify any issues with accounting documents, find areas for improvement.

Time management skills

Time management is another skill that many accounts have. Having good time management skills means that you can accomplish tasks and projects in a timely and efficient manner. It also means that you're able to adhere to schedules, go to appointments, attend meetings and organize tasks within certain timeframes. Having these skills can help you create an efficient and organized system to list accounting priorities and projects and tackle them as needed.

Task orientation skills

Lastly, having excellent task orientation skills can allow you to succeed as an accountant. Because you're commonly tasked with many different projects at a time, having the ability to hone in on one at a time can help you accomplish them successfully. Task orientation can help you focus on the most important projects, clients and tasks and adhere to schedules and deadlines.

Related: 6 Essential Accounting Skills

What accounting certifications should I get?

As an accountant with a Ph.D., you may consider earning additional accounting certifications. Doing so can make you more appealing to hiring managers, in addition to expanding your knowledge of the field and gaining the ability to perform certain accounting duties. These certifications include the following:

Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certificate

A Certified Public Accountant license, commonly referred to as a CPA license, is a common certification that can increase your accounting credentials. If you're interested in receiving an accounting license from your state government, you're required to have a CPA designation. You can use this designation if you're interested in writing official audit reports, giving official opinions on any publicly-traded company financial information or signing tax returns for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

The Certified Management Accountant certification is a certification from The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). This accounting certification focuses on company accounting management. You may benefit from this certification if you're interested in management-level account specialist roles in the future.

Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

A Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification is a c certification from The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). All international entities accept this certification for all internal accounting and auditing professionals. With this certification, you're usually competent in auditing accounting and finance-focused tasks like risk, control and information technology.

Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)

The Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) certification is a common certification for accountants who focus on accounting and auditing within criminology or sociology. You're usually an expert on fraud and fraud law, loss prevention, fraud investigation, ethics codes and forensic methods after receiving this certification. Forensic accountants often have this certification.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

A Chartered Financial Analyst certification is a common certification for accountants working within the investment and finance fields. With this certification, you're usually an expert on how businesses operate in addition to investment opportunities for a business. If you're interested in growing in your accounting career within the investment and finance fields, this certification may be for you.

Please note that none of the organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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