If you are an accounting professional who wants to set yourself up for career advancement, developing data science skills may be the best way to gain a competitive advantage.
Data science is changing the role of accounting professionals who need to know how to extract the right data to deliver critical insights to their stakeholders. Earning a Master of Professional Accounting (MPAcc) in Business Analysis and Reporting at Eastern Washington University (EWU) can prepare you with the data science skills to get ahead while earning the credits required to sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam.
How Are Accounting Professionals Using Data Science to Benefit Their Companies?
A Google search for “What is data science?” returns over six billion results and more than a few definitions. IBM describes data science as combining “math and statistics, specialized programming, advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning with specific subject matter expertise to uncover actionable insights hidden in an organization’s data.”
Accounting professionals use intelligent automation (IA, which combines automation technologies and AI analysis) to streamline processes and automate everyday tasks such as data entry and invoicing. Not only does IA improve accuracy and compliance, but it also frees up teams for more strategic work. This, in turn, can improve employee engagement and drive retention, increasing profitability and revenue.
Other trends in using data science applications to advance business priorities include:
- Leveraging data visualizations to improve financial reporting, communicate intended insights and drive informed decisions
- Using AI systems to detect issues of employee noncompliance, such as with credit card transactions and corporate policies
- Incorporating AI to improve the audit process and risk assessment
- Analyzing data to identify financial trends, eliminate financial waste, generate forecasts and identify opportunities
- Using ML applications and business intelligence tools to uncover patterns in financial activities, enable faster fraud detection and increase security, such as in banking and insurance
These and many other business applications of data science work together to help accountants and other business professionals uncover valuable insights to promote their organization’s financial health.
How Does EWU’s MPAcc in Business Analysis and Reporting Program Prepare Grads for the Future?
Capterra writer Amita Jain calls AI in accounting “the need of the hour” and advises accounting professionals who want to “future-proof” their careers to gain AI skills. Jain also cites a 2022 Workday Global CFO survey indicating that most CFOs seek AI and machine learning (ML) skills in new hires.
Coursework in EWU’s online MPAcc in Business Analysis and Reporting program emphasizes advanced accounting subjects, such as accounting law, taxation and auditing. This program also prepares graduates with the data skills employers are seeking.
For example, the Advanced Data Analytics for Accountants course builds an understanding of data analytic thinking and terminology to prepare students for the changing role of accountants. Students gain experience with data analytics tools and techniques and learn how to extract, transform, analyze and present data to provide better accounting insights to their stakeholders.
Career opportunities for graduates of EWU’s online MPAcc in Business Analytics and Reporting program include:
- Certified public accountant (CPA)
- Financial manager
- Forensic accountant
- Accounting consultant
- Chief financial officer (CFO)
Salaries for these and similar positions will vary based on job title, employer, experience, education and geographic location.
For instance, according to Salary.com, CPAs in the U.S. earn between $70,235 and $461,014 per year, with a median base salary of $265,624 (as of October 2022). An accounting background paired with an MPAcc in Business Analysis and Reporting can also accelerate advancement to the top financial position in your organization. Salary.com puts the median base salary for CFOs at $419,067 (as of October 2022).
Forbes contributor Bernard Marr writes, “If data is the oil of the information age and ML is the engine, then data science is the digital domain’s equivalent of the laws of physics that cause combustion to occur and pistons to move.”
As accounting tasks are increasingly automated, earning an MPAcc in Business Analysis and Reporting at EWU can prepare you with the analytics skills employers need to support strategic decisions and drive growth.
Learn more about EWU’s online MPAcc in Business Analysis and Reporting program.