Accounting Researcher Careers: Salary Information & Job Description

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An accounting researcher's annual average salary is about $89,000, but is it worth the education requirements? Get real job descriptions, career outlook and salary info to find out if an accounting researcher career is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of an Accounting Researcher Career

An accounting researcher is an academic who works mostly on accounting and financial research. Learn more about the pros and cons of this field to make your own informed career choice.

Pros of Becoming an Accounting Researcher
Tenured professionals can spend more time on research than teaching*
High salary compared to other occupations ($88,740 average salary for postsecondary business teachers in 2014)*
Flexible schedule including time off in the summer*
Intellectual stimulation and ability to help students*

Cons of Being an Accounting Researcher
Heavy competition for tenured positions*
Can take seven years to acquire tenure*
Requires heavy investment with professional education (Up to ten years of postsecondary study)*
Pressure to get published can be stressful*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Essential Career Info

Job Description

Accounting researchers are academics, usually postsecondary teachers, who analyze and publish studies or commentary about accounting trends. They are hired at universities and colleges to teach students about accounting and business, in addition to studying and publishing works in peer-reviewed research journals. Accounting researchers may spend a majority of their time researching accounting as a subject rather than focusing on their teaching responsibilities. Examples of subjects a researcher might study include auditing ethics, accounting information systems, financial reporting and taxes.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

The BLS stated that the annual average wage of postsecondary business teachers, which would include accounting researchers, calculated to $88,740 as of May 2014. The top 10% of business teachers earned an annual average salary of $162,890 or more, while the bottom 10% earned an annual average salary of $34,460 or less. The BLS reported that employment of all postsecondary teachers was expected to grow by 19% between 2012 and 2022, while employment for postsecondary business teachers was to see growth of 15% over the same period. While many postsecondary teachers were projected to retire in the coming years, competition for tenure-track jobs was expected to remain strong.

Career Skills and Requirements

Education Requirements

The BLS states that the most common prerequisite for postsecondary teachers is to hold a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Aspiring accounting researchers can pursue their PhD. in Accounting. This advancement takes about six years of graduate education in an accounting program following an undergraduate degree. Doctoral programs in accounting include courses that cover accounting and financial reporting research, empirical research and economic theories. Students then prepare a dissertation to complete the program. Some schools allow first-year students to work as research assistants, further advancing their research skills in preparation for careers in accounting research.

Useful Skills

As a researcher, you need to demonstrate your ability to be published in academic journals, which are peer-reviewed by other academics. The BLS reports that postsecondary teachers also need strong communication and writing skills and the ability to teach students who are unfamiliar with accounting.

What Do Employers Look For?

Job boards on The Chronicle of Higher Education, a source for academic and research job listings, show that many schools are seeking experienced professionals with doctoral degrees to teach and research in various areas of accounting. Research skills and proof of published works are generally required. Some recent job postings from March 2012 include:

  • A state university in Maryland needed an accounting professor for both undergraduate and graduate teaching. Applicants were required to submit peer-reviewed work and to travel to the state educational center when necessary.
  • A Tennessee university was seeking an accounting professor who would submit work to peer-reviewed journals regularly. Applicants also needed to be active in research involving accounting and able to teach online courses.
  • An Alabama university was hiring an accounting professor who could demonstrate the ability to publish material in top-tier peer-reviewed journals in accounting. Professors were also required to help with doctoral student research.

How to Beat the Competition

Acquire Research Skills

Pursuing research opportunities during your graduate work might help you stand out in job pools. Employers commonly look for accounting researchers who have published their research findings or are capable of performing research. This would mean choosing a graduate school with appropriate scholars who can help you foster a deep commitment to new research ventures in accounting. You'll also want to consider getting your research published while working towards your degree.

Get Certified

Employers often seek professors who have earned Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credentials. To become a CPA, you'll need to complete 150 hours of education, acquire professional experience in accounting and pass an exam administered by the American Institute of CPAs. Another option is to become a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), which may also be preferred by employers. To earn this credential, you'll need a bachelor's degree and experience working as a management accountant. Membership in the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and an exam administered by the IMA is required to become a CMA.

Other Fields to Consider

Accountant

An accountancy career may be a suitable alternative if you decide not to venture into academia. Accountants analyze personal and business financial records. You can help individuals or institutions assess financial issues or keep track of finances for government analysis and taxation. To work as an accountant, you'll need a bachelor's degree in accounting. Certifications are necessary, according to the BLS, for certain accounting practices, such as reporting to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). If you plan to perform work that requires reporting to the SEC, you'll need to obtain your CPA certification. This will require education beyond a bachelor's degree that could lead to a master's degree.

Forensic Accountant

Not sure you're ready for a PhD in accounting? You might also consider working as a forensic accountant. In this field you can investigate fraud at various companies. You can analyze corporations' financial reports to look for criminal activity. You'll work with attorneys and investigators, and you might have to testify as an expert witness in financial crime cases. Like a regular accountant, you'll need a bachelor's degree or possibly a master's degree if you decide to become a CPA. You have the potential to earn a high salary in this career. According to Payscale.com, most forensic accountants earned between $35,000 and $121,000 as of April 2012.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master - Accounting
      • MS in Accounting- Tax Specialization
      • MS in Accounting - Audit Specialization
      • MS in Accounting - Government Specialization
      • MS in Accounting - Finance Specialization
      • MBA: Finance
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Accounting
      • Bachelor: Managerial Accountancy
      • Bachelor: Tax Accountancy
      • Bachelor: Auditing-Forensic Accountancy
      • BSBA - Investment
      • Bachelor: Public-General Accountancy
    Associate's
      • Associate: Accounting
      • Associate: Business Admin.
      • Associate: Business Admin. - Office Mgmt
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Government Analytics
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Accounting
      • Master of Arts in Law - Business
      • Master of Arts in Law - Wealth Management/Financial Planning
      • Master of Business Administration - Finance and Investing
      • Master of Business Administration
      • Master of Business Administration - Kindom Business
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Accounting
      • Bachelor of Science in Business - Accounting
      • Bachelor of Science in Business
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Business
      • Bachelor of Arts in English - Government
      • Bachelor of Arts in Government
  • Campus and Online Programs
    4. South College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Administration with a Concentration in Accounting
      • Bachelor of Business Administration
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Accounting
      • Associate of Science in Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Notre Dame de Namur University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Masters in Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Finance
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
  • Campus and Online Programs
    7. Louisiana State University Shreveport

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration with a General Business Specialization
      • Master of Business Administration - Finance Concentration
      • Master of Business Administration - Finance Specialization
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Penn Foster

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Career Diploma - Bookkeeping
      • Career Diploma - Administrative Assistant
  • Campus and Online Programs
    9. South University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Accounting (BS to MS) (MS)
      • Accounting (MS)
      • Business Administration (DBA)
      • Business Administration (MBA)
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Saint John's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Accounting
      • Master of Business Administration: Taxation
      • Master of Science in Taxation
      • Master of Business Administration: Interdisciplinary Business

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

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Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Government Analytics

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Regent University

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  • Master of Arts in Law - Business
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  • Bachelor of Science in Business - Accounting

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South College

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  • Bachelor of Business Administration
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  • Associate of Science in Business Administration

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Notre Dame de Namur University

  • Masters in Business Administration

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Georgetown University

  • Master of Science in Finance
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Louisiana State University Shreveport

  • Master of Business Administration with a General Business Specialization
  • Master of Business Administration - Finance Concentration
  • Master of Business Administration - Finance Specialization

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Penn Foster

  • Career Diploma - Bookkeeping
  • Career Diploma - Administrative Assistant

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