Experience and education are essential components of a successful career in accounting, and can help professionals better position themselves for challenging and rewarding roles such as director of accounting.
Organizations of all types and sizes – from insurance and financial services firms, to manufacturing and high-tech companies, to healthcare facilities and government agencies – need qualified finance and accounting professionals with up-to-date skills and advanced knowledge to oversee their finances. If you aspire to pursue a career path to a director of accounting position, attaining an MBA with a specialization in Accounting and Finance can be an important step.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in the accounting profession will grow by 11% from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the national average for all occupations during the same decade.
Job growth will occur as more complex financial reporting requirements and an improving economy spur demand for qualified professionals who can oversee an organization’s financial strategy. Certified public accountants (CPAs) and individuals with advanced degrees should have stronger prospects for high-level accounting careers, the BLS notes.
Director of Accounting Job Duties
The director of accounting typically provides consultant-level services to an organization’s controllers and finance personnel. The goal is to fulfill revenue objectives and adhere to accounting and reporting policies. Common job duties for directors of accounting can include reviewing and analyzing finances, ensuring compliance with regulations and refining reporting documentation.
At the director level, responsibilities also include verifying the integrity and accuracy of financial operations, safeguarding organizational assets and developing efficient business processes to record revenue.
In some firms, the director of accounting is responsible for overseeing relevant contracts as well as computer hardware and software system acquisitions, particularly those affecting financial reporting. Others support company initiatives by directing stock option accounting, leading strategic planning for accounting policies and maintaining internal controls over financial transactions.
The director of accounting manages personnel and may also serve as liaison among the accounting/finance department and other areas of a firm, as well as with external advisors.
Director of Accounting Salary Potential
As of 2017, directors of accounting employed by corporate accounting firms with annual revenue of up to $50 million had salaries ranging from $92,500-126,000, according to the Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting & Finance. For accounting directors at companies with $500 million or more in annual revenue, the salary range jumps to $164,500-225,500.
Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that professionals in the employment category of financial managers, which includes controllers, treasurers and chief financial officers, earned an average annual salary of$139,720 as of May 2016.
As with other careers, higher salaries generally go to professionals with solid experience and advanced education, as employers seek to remain competitive in a changing global business environment.
Potential salary ranges and employment opportunities are dependent on numerous factors, including regional market conditions, the type and size of employer, and a candidate’s work history and level of educational attainment.
Education and Training
For many positions in the accounting and finance profession, a bachelor’s degree in accounting is a minimum requirement for employment. However, competition typically is keen for high-level positions with leading companies, and preference may be given to candidates with a master’s degree. In addition, director-level roles generally require a number of years of experience, as well as CPA status.
Accounting professionals who wish to advance into a director of accounting position may improve their career prospects by enrolling in an MBA program with a specialization in Accounting and Finance. Coursework typically includes managerial economics, investment management, financial management policy and strategic cost management.
Employers should expect professionals who have earned an MBA with a specialization in Accounting and Finance to be able to:
- Apply modern theories of leadership, management and negotiation to real-world business challenges
- Use critical thinking to effectively solve problems
- Manage financial risk through the use of statistics and economic data
- Lead operations, personnel and financial initiatives that contribute to growth and profitability
Would You Thrive as a Director of Accounting?
Aspiring to become a director of accounting requires strong technical accounting knowledge and proven management abilities, as well as a comprehensive understanding of the role accounting and finance play in an increasingly complex and global business environment.
Professionals with excellent problem-solving, communication and leadership skills can help propel their opportunities for career advancement by earning an MBA with a specialization in Accounting and Finance.