A State By State Accounting Guide
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Average CPA And Accountant Salary Guide

In 2016 there were nearly 1.4 million accountants working in the United States, mostly based in urban areas and near regional hubs of commerce and industry, according to the most recent jobs report from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Since accountancy greases the skids for anything that involves money, you’ll find accountants working for or contracted with every type of organization imaginable… large accounting consultancies, government agencies, major corporations, small businesses, non-profit corporations, educational institutions, and the list goes on.

They also fill an unimaginable variety of roles in those organizations, ranging from financial analysis to tax accounting to auditing to payroll services. Around a quarter of the profession is involved in accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll.

Accounting Employment By Activity

  • Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, Payroll - 25%
  • Government - 8%
  • Finance and Insurance - 8%
  • Corporate Management - 7%
  • Self-employed - 7%

Accounting Job Growth and Detailed Salary Statistics

BLS believes that job growth for accountants and auditors will be about 10 percent between 2016 and 2026, faster than for most professions. That translates into nearly 140,000 new positions emerging during that ten year period.

Robert Half, a global recruiting and human resource consulting firm that has been tracking accounting industry trends and salaries since 1950, publishes the Robert Half Accounting and Finance 2019 Salary Guide. It provides a more in-depth breakdown of trends and hiring demands in the accounting profession than any other resource out there.

 

The company has found that employment levels for accounting and finance professionals are consistently above the national average and that there are critical skills shortages in many industries. Some of the most in-demand positions in the field in 2019 include:

  • Accounting Manager
  • Controller
  • Financial Analysis
  • Internal Auditor
  • Payroll Manager

Companies scrambling to fill these roles are relaxing their standards for applicants, looking for only the most critical skills, and embracing more outsourcing and flexible staffing strategies to meet their needs. More and more today, accountants can find positions that match both their salary requirements and their own goals for personal development.

Robert Half divides the profession into individual job titles, with different salary breakdowns for each, based on title, years of experience, or both, and provides starting salaries at the 25th, 50th, and 95th percentiles, with the difference usually based on the skills or credentials that candidate bring to the table, as well as differences in industry or firm size. Salaries can also vary considerably based on geography.

Salaries in Public Accounting

Competition for top talent in the public accounting market has only become tougher over the past year, and retention and hiring have become key priorities. That’s driving salaries higher and increasing other compensation metrics such as bonuses, flextime, paid time off, and day care assistance.

Tax Services - 25th/50th/95th percentile

  • Senior Manager/Director - $111,500 / $134,000 / $212,250
  • Manager - $86,250 / $104,000 / $164,250
  • Senior - $60,500 / $71,500 / $113,000
  • 1 to 3 years - $47,750 / $57,500 / $91,500
  • Up to 1 year - $39,500 / $47,000 / $74,250

Audit/Assurance Services - 25th/50th/95th percentile

  • Senior Manager/Director - $109,500 / $131,250 / $208,750
  • Manager - $74,500 / $90,000 / $142,500
  • Senior - $53,250 / $64,250 / $101,500
  • 1 to 3 years - $43,500 / $52,000 / $82,750
  • Up to 1 year - $39,500 / $47,000 / $74,250

Salaries in Corporate Accounting

Robert Half finds that corporate accountants are in heavy demand in almost every sector, from manufacturing to real estate to healthcare. Major changes in the U.S. tax code, technology system implementations, merger and acquisitions activity, and other business factors are accelerating the need for expert staff and senior accountants, financial analysts, and payroll professionals.

At the pinnacle of these corporate accountants in almost every company is the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). At the 95th percentile, CFOs start at nearly half a million in salary, before factoring in the stock bonuses and other compensation incentives that are common at this level.

Other senior ranks can climb nearly as high, however, commanding strong salaries on the basis of their expertise in various sectors and accounting specialties within corporations. In a tightening market, companies are doing more and more to lock these highly qualified professionals in with generous compensation packages as they pick up the slack for managing both new and outsourced accountants at lower levels.

Senior Corporate Accountants - 25th/50th/95th percentile

  • Treasurer - $111,250 / $188,750 / $484,000
  • Vice President of Finance - $106,750 / $180,250 / $402,250
  • Director of Finance - $101,500 / $148,750 / $247,750
  • Director of Accounting - $96,750 / $143,250 / $225,250
  • Director of Financial Reporting - $94,250 / $137,750 / $232,500
  • Corporate Controller - $105,500 / $173,750 / $262,750
  • Controller - $92,000 / $118,250 / $207,750
  • Divisional Controller - $101,000 / $143,000 / $223,000
  • Assistant Controller - $72,750 / $106,250 / $172,000
  • Assistant Treasurer - $71,000 / $93,250 / $170,500

Corporate accountants can also make good money, especially those skilled in various aspects of accounting important in small, mid-sized, and large corporations.

Corporate Accounting - 25th/50th/95th percentile

  • General Accountant
    • Manager - $76,250 / $92,000 / $142,000
    • Senior - $63,750 / $77,750 / $116,750
    • 1 to 3 Years - $49,000 / $62,000 / $97,000
    • Up to 1 Year - $38,500 / $46,750 / $69,500
  • Cost Accountant
    • Manager - $78,250 / $93,250 / $143,750
    • Senior - $65,750 / $78,750 / $118,750
    • 1 to 3 Years - $52,500 / $62,750 / $100,000
    • Up to 1 Year - $42,000 / $49,250 / $78,000
  • Tax Accountant
    • Manager - $90,000 / $108,000 / $158,750
    • Senior / $72,000 / $87,250 / $126,750
    • 1 to 3 Years - $58,500 / $71,000 / $101,000
    • Up to 1 Year - $43,000 / $52,500 / $82,250

With increasingly complex financial arrangements, including just-in-time inventory practices, outsourcing, and digital bookkeeping, the auditing and compliance divisions of corporate accounting departments have also been seeing lots of on-boarding in recent years.

Auditing / Compliance - 25th/50th/95th percentile

  • Chief Compliance Officer - $132,750 / $169,250 / $265,750
  • IT Auditor
    • Manager - $97,500 / $118,250 / $185,500
    • Senior - $75,750 / $92,500 / $145,750
    • 1 to 3 Years - $62,250 / $76,000 / $119,000
    • Up to 1 Year - $42,250 / $51,250 / $80,250
  • Internal Auditor
    • Chief Audit Executive/Vice President of Internal Audit/Internal Audit Director - $127,750 / $179,250 / $285,000
    • Manager - $96,750 / $112,750 / $157,500
    • Senior - $75,000 / $87,250 / $120,250
    • 1 to 3 Years - $58,250 / $71,000 / $95,000
    • Up to 1 Year - $38,250 / $46,250 / $71,500

The same advanced data capture and reporting systems that enable the auditing and compliance roles have also created new positions and placed new significance on financial reporting and analyst roles, which can use big data to provide major strategic insights for executives. The importance of these roles is reflected in the paychecks available, particularly to more senior analysts.

Financial Reporting and Analysis - 25th/50th/95th percentile

  • Financial Reporting
    • Manager - $94,500 / $112,750 / $167,750
    • Senior - $71,500 / $82,000 / $119,750
    • 1 to 3 Years - $59,250 / $71,750 / $93,000
    • Up to 1 Year - $49,500 / $59,250 / $74,250
  • SEC Financial Reporting
    • Director - $114,250 / $138,000 / $217,250
    • Manager - $93,250 / $112,500 / $177,250
    • Analyst - $67,750 / $81,750 / $129,000
  • Financial Analyst
    • Director - $105,750 / $130,000 / $201,250
    • Manager - $84,750 / $102,500 / $161,500
    • Senior - $67,750 / $82,500 / $129,500
    • 1 to 3 Years - $55,000 / $67,000 / $105,000
    • Up to 1 Year - $42,500 / $51,500 / $80,750

Financial Services

Robert Half reports that tax reform continues to drive robust hiring in financial services organizations, particularly among staff and senior accountants. Regulation, particularly with respect to data privacy, is expected to continue to push major job growth in this sector.

The highly technical skills in data capture, retrieval, and analysis in near real-time are worth big bucks to financial service firms, and you can see how that translates into high-end salaries for many of the related roles in the tables below.

Once again, the CFO comes out on top in the financial services sector, with a low-end starting salary of $168,750 all the way up to the top five percent starting at a cool half a million.

Banking and Financial Markets - 25th/50th/95th percentile

  • Managing Director/Partner - $160,500 / $194,000 / $308,000
  • Analyst - $55,000 / $71,250 / $104,500
  • Commercial Lender 5+ Years - $89,250 / $107,250 / $169,250
  • Commercial Lender 3 to 5 Years - $65,500 / $77,000 / $121,250
  • Commercial Lender 1 to 3 Years - $48,750 / $58,500 / $93,000

Although technology and the pace of business and regulatory reform is driving many exciting new areas in financial accounting, there is still also a strong demand for accountants in the traditional industry roles in investment and valuation analysis, taxation, and fund accounting.

Finance and Accounting - 25th/50th/95th percentile

  • Controller - $106,250 / $127,500 / $201,500
  • Accountant 5+ Years - $68,000 / $82,750 / $129,250
  • Accountant 3 to 5 Years - $59,750 / $72,250 / $113,250
  • Accountant 1 to 3 Years - $51,500 / $62,000 / $96,500
  • Financial Planning & Analysis – Manager - $85,500 / $116,500 / $161,750
  • Financial Planning & Analysis 3 to 5 Years - $63,750 / $77,000 / $121,250
  • Financial Planning & Analysis 1 to 3 Years - $51,000 / $66,750 / $96,750
  • Mutual Fund Accountant – Manager - $58,000 / $69,250 / $109,750
  • Mutual Fund Accountant 3 to 5 Years - $42,500 / $50,750 / $80,750
  • Mutual Fund Accountant 1 to 3 Years - $38,500 / $45,750 / $72,750

Data privacy and hacking concerns are pushing financial firms to hire more, and better qualified, risk and compliance staff today than ever before. Both accounting and IT knowledge are highly prized in these roles.

Risk and Compliance - 25th/50th/95th percentile

  • Chief Compliance Officer - $164,750 / $200,000 / $313,500
  • Credit Risk Analyst – Manager - $81,500 / $98,500 / $153,500
  • Credit Risk Analyst 3 to 5 Years - $68,000 / $82,750 / $129,250
  • Compliance Analyst - $67,750 / $82,250 / $128,750

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2018. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of specialty within the field of accounting and auditing - https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Business-and-Financial/Accountants-and-auditors.htm.BLS salary data represents average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Salary data for specific job titles sourced from the 2019 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting & Finance Professionals – https://www.roberthalf.com/salary-guide/accounting-and-finance. All ranges represent starting salaries at the 25th and 95th percentiles unless otherwise noted, with midpoint figures representing the 50th percentile. Experience, specialty area, credentials, and role all influence where salaries might fall within this range. These base salaries do not include bonuses or other incentives.

 

 

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