Should Your Get a CPA or MBA?

If you’re in the accounting industry and are interested in progressing your career you’ve probably considered the debate between acquiring your Certified Public Accountant designation or Masters of Business Administration. Both have advantages in the market place so which ever you choose will be a benefit. So how do you decide? Here are a few things to consider when determining your next career move.

  • Education differences. An MBA is an advanced degree program which needs to be taken through an accredited institution. While many classes can be taken online, there is still a long term commitment to a Master’s program. A CPA is a certification program designed to for individuals who already have degrees in accounting to test for and acquire.
  • Employment differences. CPAs can focus on a number of different roles but all in various accounting functions. One popular role in business for a CPA is Controller. This individual oversees the entire accounting department and makes critical decisions for the finances of the organization. An MBA may have a more flexible career path usually leading toward a management position in multiple departments.
  • Cost differences. The cost of an MBA will depend largely on the school and the state where you wish to attend. Online programs might offer a more cost effective path to the degree while a bigger business school may provide a good credential. The average cost is around $60,000 with some places being over $100,000. A CPA involves the cost of the test as well as your college tuition for a qualifying degree. The fees for the CPA exam can cost around $1000.
  • Consider both. Because a CPA designation requires an accounting degree there may be some wisdom to obtaining both. Attend school with an accounting focus, continue for the MBA and apply for and take the test for the CPA with only a small additional cost. This may open a number of doors for your future career.

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