Should you get a master’s degree in taxation or financial planning?

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MST professional working on his laptop

Taxation and financial planning go hand-in-hand, but each discipline offers unique challenges, rewards, and career paths. By obtaining a master’s degree in either, students show that they are dedicated to their chosen field. Additionally, graduates of these programs emerge with the skills to take on some of today’s most complex financial challenges.

Choosing a path forward may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. By understanding the key differences between a Master of Taxation and a Master of Financial Planning, prospective students can determine which option is right for them.

Pursuing a Master’s of Taxation

The Master of Science in Taxation degree can be ideal for industry veterans as well as hardworking individuals looking to broaden their knowledge of tax law and practice.

Students learn about the complexities of tax law, as well as the fundamentals behind auditing and financial reporting. This advanced degree equips students with the knowledge and skills required of many competitive jobs. Not only are such positions in high demand, but they are also well-respected and can offer high salaries.

The demand for professionals who possess an expert understanding of current trends and the foundations of tax strategies is strong. Graduates with such specific knowledge and expertise are able to guide their clients with confidence and make decisions with conviction.

Upon completion of Master of Taxation program, students with relevant industry experience can be prepared to take on competitive roles (salary figures from PayScale; job duties from BLS):

Tax manager
Average salary: $94,628
Projected growth (2016-26): 10 percent
Responsibilities: In addition to directly managing staff, tax managers delegate research assignments, create schedules, and prepare complex reports for clients. Tax managers work closely with clients to develop long-lasting relationships and seek to identify potential business opportunities.

Tax accountant
Average salary: $55,429
Projected growth (2016-26): 10 percent
Responsibilities: Tax accountants can perform work for a wide range of clients, including individuals and organizations. They are expected to maintain and update their knowledge of tax law as well as current trends. In addition to performing calculations with software, tax accountants develop reports intended to educate and inform their clients.

Tax partner
Average salary: $70,368
Projected growth (2016-26): 10 percent
Responsibilities: Tax partners mentor and supervise their staff as well as conduct complex financial planning. Typically, tax partners are held accountable for their team’s performance and productivity. They are expected to understand current trends and possess and deep understanding of the underlying principles that guide tax law.

Pursuing a Master’s in Financial Planning

Business enterprises in various industries require professionals who thoroughly understand the fundamentals of financial planning. As the economy evolves and expands, financial experts must stay up to date with new regulations and trends. A Master of Science in Financial Planning degree can provide students with the skills to stay competitive in this challenging and valuable career path.

In a master’s program, students learn advanced strategies to guide clients strategically. Topics such as insurance and investments are covered along with the relevant issues that graduates are likely to face in the workplace. By learning from industry leaders, students gain insights into complex topics such as estate planning and portfolio management, among others.

Students learn the complexities of retirement planning and wealth management as well as relevant economic principles, trends, and common pain points. Coupled with industry experience, this knowledge prepares graduates to work with clients of nearly any background.

Students who want to pursue an accounting certification in addition to a degree can gain the knowledge they need to be successful upon graduation. Furthermore, they can earn the experience required for many of today’s most demanding financial careers:

Financial advisor
Average salary: $58,591
Projected growth (2016-26): 15 percent
Responsibilities: Generally, financial advisors work with clients to give advice on investment products and financial strategies. They need to maintain an up-to-date knowledge of current trends, especially as they relate to insurance, tax planning, and investment vehicles. They help clients to stay compliant with standards and laws.

Financial planning analyst
Average salary: $98,692
Projected growth (2016-26): 11 percent
Responsibilities: Financial planning analysts often work in corporate settings, providing guidance to management. Their job is to understand the financial situation of the organization and evaluate strategies for producing valuable outcomes. Analysts create reports that describe financial operations for senior management.

Estate planner
Average salary: $76,584
Projected growth (2016-26): 15 percent
Responsibilities: Estate planners must understand the legal and regulatory realities of each client’s unique financial situation. Often, estate planners have a background in accounting as well as in law or finance. They help clients manage wealth, reduce risk, and make informed decisions for the future. They are often called upon to manage sophisticated financial strategies.

Learn more about the Master of Science in Taxation online program

Both career paths offer unique experience that attracts professionals with a range of personalities, passions, and ambitions. If you want to further your tax education, gain competitive new skills, and pursue career advancement, consider a graduate degree from the Northeastern University D’Amore-McKim School of Business. Learn more about the Online Master of Science in Taxation program today.

Recommended Readings:
What a Career as a Tax Auditor Could Look Like
Classes You Can Take in Northeastern’s Master of Science in Finance Program

Sources:
Tax Manager Salary
Tax Accountant Salary
Financial Advisor Salary
Planning Analyst Salary
Estata Planning Attorney Salary
Accountant and Auditor
Personal Financial Advisor
Financial Analyst