Should you earn a graduate degree? As a Finance and Accounting professional, a graduate degree will strengthen and round out your professional foundation and help to give you credibility as an expert in the field, which will serve to gain you respect. Further, earning a graduate degree can open additional opportunities for you to advance your career and could increase your earnings potential. Let’s address if a graduate degree is the right career move for you.
1) Graduate degree trends from the field,
2) Is earning a graduate degree for me,
3) Which degree should I pursue, and
4) How should I plan for it?
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Should you earn a graduate degree as a finance and accounting professional, a graduate degree will strengthen and round out your professional foundation and help to give you credibility as an expert in the field, which will serve to gain you respect. Further, earning a graduate degree can open additional opportunities for you to advance your career and could increase your earnings potential. Let's address if a graduate degree is the right career move for you. Please enjoy the episode. Welcome to the finance leader podcast where leadership is bigger than the numbers. I am your host, Stephen McLean. This is the podcast for developing leaders in finance and accounting. Please consider following me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. My usernames and the links are in this episode's show notes. And also please join the Facebook group I have for this podcast community. Thank you. This is episode number 84. And I will be talking about earning a graduate degree as part of your professional Foundation. And I will highlight the following topics. Number one, graduate degree trends from the field. Number two is earning a graduate degree for me. Number three, which degree should I pursue? And for how should I plan for it? Benjamin Franklin said, An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. This week I'm talking about earning a graduate degree. I am a believer in earning a graduate degree. It helps you marketability, your long term career advancement strategy, and your earnings potential may be greater. A graduate degree fits into a strong professional foundation for those in the finance and accounting fields. It strengthens our expertise, especially when combined with a professional certification, like a CPA. In finance and accounting, we are often sought after for our technical expertise, and also our leadership ability. But earning the degree has to make sense for you. It has to fit your long term goals. It's a huge investment in time and also in money. It takes commitment to get it done. And it has to make sense for what is happening in your personal life. Also, you have to analyze your personal and career commitments to know if you can make the commitment for graduate level work. It's much more demanding than your undergrad program was you can't just provide standard solutions to the assignments, you will need to solve problems. And we'll probably have more group oriented work. Also, cost is a huge factor when deciding there's a lot of discussion in the United States going back to the last presidential election, about the burden of student loans. And if the government may cancel some or all debt for students. Now this is beyond the scope of this podcast to resolve. Education has become very expensive. You have to consider the cost in your planning and what you can realistically manage. Now I've got a question for you. Does your company have tuition assistance? Many large companies do. The US Army paid for my master's degree in business. Now I only had to pay for books and then give two more years of service. So it was a good deal for me. I recommend that you research what funding programs may be available to you other than student loans. Don't be afraid to ask your company and even the school. Look at other options for nonprofit organizations, churches and government entities to see what they can do to help cover the cost. Now I am very pleased with what I learned in my graduate program versus my undergraduate program. It was all about strategy and every master's level business course, which was not included as much in my undergrad program in accounting. Until my capstone course just prior to graduation. My MBA program has helped me to view the business and global economic world differently and to analyze and then synthesize information in a different way. The work is unique because you have to solve problems in every assignment. For example, in graduate level accounting, you are looking at accounting concepts from a strategy development and execution point of view. So you are not performing traditional accounting transaction analysis. But what you are doing is formulating strategy, and how you can determine if the company is executing it properly. I believe it was my graduate level accounting class, where I started to love strategy concepts and realized how much my undergrad program did not touch the subject enough. If your goals include becoming a CFO and even CEO, then a graduate degree particularly an MBA is the smart choice. An MBA for any career path in the corporate environment is the smart choice. Your long term career goal should determine which degree makes sense for you. If you want to enter public accounting or have a career in academia, then specializing may be the best choice for you. Even if you're not sure if you want to tackle a graduate degree, I recommend that you put it in your individual development plan. As a placeholder, you should be reviewing what you want to accomplish every quarter. And it can be there to remind you to evaluate it as something you may want to earn in the future. Now let's talk about goals. Again, it may be time for you to review where you are, and I just mentioned individual development plan, it might be time to get that out and take a look at it to see how you are doing in 2022. I recommend earning a graduate degree because it will help you to advance your career and may increase your potential earnings. I earned my MBA while still serving in the US Army. It was the smart choice for me then, and I'm very glad I made the commitment to get it done. I discussed earning a master's degree as part of your professional foundation in the course I'd offer through finance leader Academy, advance your finance and accounting career. The link to the course is in the show notes that accompany this episode. Now let's talk about earning a graduate degree as part of your professional foundation. Number one, graduate degree trends from the field. A graduate degree is not required to become a CFO or CEO. But if you want to be competitive for the position, I recommend that you seriously consider earning one the most common graduate degree for CFOs according to Forbes, is a master's in business administration with 54% of the Fortune 100 CFOs. With a master's degree holding that one, the future CFO will require leadership and a strong business acumen, along with learning to adapt and being flexible. Additionally, the future CFO should have broad experience which means different roles within the business, including non finance and accounting roles, they must be able to solve complex problems and challenge conventional thinking. And tomorrow, CFO must embrace new technology, a formal graduate degree can offer training to problem solve and to better understand strategic concepts along with training in the areas that I discussed a few moments ago. I believe that our senior finance and accounting professionals should earn both a graduate degree and a certification as part of a strong portfolio of credentials. That also includes your business acumen, your skills, and your leadership ability. Number two is earning a graduate degree for me, you have to determine if pursuing a graduate degree fits your long term goal. And if you can commit the time and resources to complete it, and you don't have to rush to get it done, you can take your time, I was working on mine while on active duty in the army. And while deployed twice to the Middle East, I often took two and even one course at a time. I wanted to earn my graduate degree because it was what my peers were doing. At that point in the career path. A master's degree would help me to be competitive for future roles and for promotions. You have to weigh in analyze a lot in your life and career. Does it make sense? Will it help me achieve my goals? Does it fit my life? Are there any conflicts do the commitment of time and resources to getting it done? Now number three, which degree should I pursue? Again, you have to determine what your long term goal is? Are you going to stay in a corporate setting then an MBA makes sense? Do you want to pursue public accounting or maybe a career in academia that a master's degree in accounting would work? You should match your goals to what degree fits best. If you want to be a CFO and even CEO than an MBA may be the best way to go. This is a decision that has to make sense for you for what you want to accomplish in the long term. Number four, how should I plan for it? With any goal you need to know how it fits within your timeline, and what other conflicts you may have? Don't forget to match your goal planning to your life partners goal timeline along with any plans you have for your family in the future. You'll also have to play in how to fund the education. I mentioned that you need to check with your company if they have tuition assistance available. And also the check a few other resources like nonprofits and other government entities. I recommend working up a scenario in a gold timeline to see where it fits in your life and career path so that you can analyze and make the best decision for you and your family. I believe a graduate degree is part of your professional foundation that includes a professional certification, high level technical and soft skills, developing an executive presence, a strong knowledge of business concepts, a written individual development plan and a mindset ready to overcome any obstacle and adversity. Now for action Today, I want you to review your goals and career timeline to determine if earning a graduate degree is for you. This will be a tough commitment for several years, you have to want to accomplish it and feel that it'll improve your ability to achieve your long term goal further, you have to research costs and how to pay for it. There may be funding options available if you ask so add this to your plan. Don't forget to grab my free guide for you called the leadership growth blueprint for finance and accounting managers. Are you a finance or accounting professional who is also leading people, but have questions about how to lead more effectively. I know you are expected to be the technical expert in our field. Learning leadership can set you apart from your peers, which can then lead you to more opportunities. In the free guide I talk about three leadership areas communication, team development, and empowerment. Plus a few recommendations around challenges with the financial systems you are using to complete your work. The link to this free guide is in the post or the bio, you can also go to Finance leader academy.com. To download it. Please use the guide to help you with a few leadership wins today. Thank you. Today I talked about the importance of earning a graduate degree as part of your professional foundation and I highlighted the following points. Number one, graduate degree trends from the field. Number two is earning a graduate degree for me. Number three, which degree should I pursue? And four, how should I plan for it? People look to us as finance and accounting professionals. To be technical experts and to be leaders in the organization. We should be striving to grow and develop our professional foundation always, which means we need to be constantly learning and expanding our credentials. A graduate degree is one critical component of a robust professional foundation. I'm very pleased that I made the commitment to earn my MBA it has served me well. Not only to have it as a credential, but also the training has helped me to understand strategy development and execution at a higher level. And to view every situation is a problem solving exercise. I believe that the MBA gave me credibility in my field. And as a leader and I know it will for you too. I recommend earning some type of graduate degree so you can remain competitive in the finance and accounting fields. Next week, I will be sharing how you can inspire others so they can achieve their goals to achieve excellence. And to become their best self leaders should be inspiring their teams every day. Because the opposite meanings, you're losing your team members and thus lowering their own excitement for the work. We can inspire our team in many ways I can't wait to share. I hope you enjoyed the finance leader podcast I am dedicated to helping you grow your leadership skills, to change your mindset and to clarify your goals so you advance your career. You can find this episode wherever you listen to podcasts. If this episode helped you today, please share it with others and please leave a quick review so that others may find the podcast. Until next time, you can check out more resources at finance leader academy.com and sign up for my weekly updates so you don't miss an episode of the show. And now go lead your team and I'll see you next time. Thank you