Average CPA And Accountant Salary Guide

Lucrative salaries and near endless opportunities continue to make accounting a prime profession in the business world for anybody with the right blend of skills and credentials. An early investment in the right education paves the way to dream jobs that run the gamut for people with different interests and propensities, from independent one-man operations and small local partnership firms on Main Street to the upper echelons of corporate leadership and positions with a Big 4 firm in a glass tower downtown.

In 2019 there were more than 1.4 million accountants working in the United States, mostly based in urban areas and near regional hubs of commerce and industry. Since accountancy greases the skids for anything that involves money, you’ll find accountants working for or contracted with every type of organization—large accounting consultancies, government agencies, major corporations, small businesses, non-profits, and the list goes on.

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Accounting professionals  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. The common denominator among all of them is strong salaries at the various levels across the board.


 

Accounting Trends: Demand is Strong, Salaries Are Growing, and the Perks Keep Getting Better

A Closer Look at the Most In-Demand Accounting Jobs

Salaries in Public Accounting

Salaries in Corporate Accounting

Accountant and Auditor Salaries, by State

 


Accounting Trends: Demand is Strong, Salaries Are Growing, and the Perks Keep Getting Better

Robert Half, a global corporate head-hunting firm and consultancy that has been tracking accounting industry trends and salaries for over 70 years, provides a more in-depth breakdown of trends and hiring demands in the accounting profession than any other resource out there.

The Robert Half Accounting and Finance 2020 Salary Guide. confirmed what many already knew: Demand in this field is stronger than ever, and vacancies are getting harder and harder to fill. This means that when firms recruit talented accounting professionals, the process involves some pretty handsome starting offers.

In some cases, companies scrambling to fill these roles are relaxing outmoded standards, looking for people that are strong on the critical skillset even if their soft skills are a little less polished. This means that more and more today, talented problem-solvers who might not be great at picking out a tie can find positions that match both their salary requirements and their own goals for personal and professional development.

Some of the big trending topics in accounting include:

  • Tech continues to transform the field: Cloud computing, AI, machine learning – they’re all changing the way accountants do their jobs. If you want a competitive edge in the field, expect to have knowledge of cloud-based systems, data analytics, emerging tools, and enterprise resource planning systems.
  • Strategic skills are key: With monotonous skills like data entry a thing of the past, thanks to automation, those who come to the table with critical thinking and problem-solving skills are a valuable addition to firms everywere.
  • Salaries are going nowhere but up: The most sought-after accounting and finance professionals aren’t just getting one job offer – they’re getting multiple offers, and they’re becoming more confident in salary negotiations.
  • Firms are keeping compensation packages competitive: Perks remain an important part of the picture in the accounting and finance fields. As of 2020, 50% of employers offered flexible work schedules or telecommuting options (this number is likely much higher following the coronavirus pandemic), paid parental leave (47%), paid time-off for volunteer activities (32%), and matching gift programs for employee donations/fundraising (29%). The coronavirus pandemic has had a dramatic influence on how and where accounting professionals work, with most firms implementing dramatic, long-term changes regarding everything from remote audits to more rapid conversions to cloud-based systems.

A Closer Look at the Most In-Demand Accounting Jobs

According to Robert Half, the most in-demand positions in 2020 included:

  • Accounting manager
  • Internal auditor
  • Business analyst
  • Payroll manager
  • Controller
  • Senior accountant
  • Financial analyst
  • Staff accountant

Skilled accounting and finance pros remain on the top of the most-wanted list in both corporate and industry accounting, with CPAs, of course, always ranking at the top. New regulations keep the demand for senior accountants, financial analysts, and payroll managers in-demand. Firms continue to struggle to fill positions for public accountants, and it’s quite common for even entry-level public accountants to field multiple job offers.

For pros in the banking and financial markets, risk and compliance, and operations, job opportunities remain strong.

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 – $113,750 / $136,750 / $216,000
  • Manager – $88,000 / $106,500 / $167,000
  • Senior – $61,750 / $73,000 / $115,000
  • 1 to 3 years – $48,750 / $59,500 / $93,000
  • Up to 1 year – $40,250 / $48,750 / $75,250

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

  • Senior Manager/Director – $112,000 / $134,000 / $211,000
  • Manager – $75,750 / $93,000 / $144,500
  • Senior – $54,000 / $66,500/ $103,000
  • 1 to 3 years – $44,750 / $54,250 / $84,750
  • Up to 1 year – $40,250 / $48,750 / $76,000

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 acquisition activity under the growing trend of massive corporate consolidations, are all accelerating the need for expert staff and senior accountants, financial analysts, and payroll professionals.

At the pinnacle of corporate accounting in almost every company is the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). The most talented among them start at nearly half a million in salary, even before stock options, bonuses and other incentives that are common at this level.

Other senior ranks can climb nearly as high, commanding strong salaries on the basis of their expertise in various sectors and accounting specialties. 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 hires and outsourced accountants at lower levels.

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

  • Treasurer – $112,000 / $192,750 / $484,250
  • Vice President of Finance – $110,000 / $185,750 / $402,250
  • Director of Finance – $101,750 / $152,250 / $248,000
  • Director of Accounting – $97,000 / $146,750 / $226,000
  • Director of Financial Reporting – $94,500 / $141,000 / $232,500
  • Corporate Controller – $106,000 / $177,750 / $262,750
  • Controller – $94,250 / $121,000 / $211,000
  • Divisional Controller – $101,250 / $146,500 / $224,000
  • Assistant Controller – $73,500 / $108,750 / $174,000
  • Assistant Treasurer – $71,750 / $95,500 / $172,250

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 – $79,000 / $95,250 / $147,000
    • Senior – $66,000 / $80,500 / $120,750
    • 1 to 3 Years – $50,750 / $64,250 / $100,500
    • Up to 1 Year – $39,750 / $48,500 / $72,000
  • Cost Accountant
    • Manager – $80,500 / $96,250 / $148,000
    • Senior – $67,750 / $81,250 / $122,250
    • 1 to 3 Years – $54,000 / $64,750 / $103,000
  • Tax Accountant
    • Manager – $93,250 / $111,750 / $164,250
    • Senior / $74,000 / $90,250 / $131,250
    • 1 to 3 Years – $60,500 / $73,500 / $104,500
    • Up to 1 Year – $44,500 / $54,500 / $85,250

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 – $135,500 / $175,250 / $271,000
  • IT Auditor
    • Manager – $100,500 / $122,250 / $191,000
    • Senior – $78,000 / $95,500 / $150,000
    • 1 to 3 Years – $63,500 / $78,750 / $121,500
    • Up to 1 Year – $63,500 / $78,750 / $121,500
  • Internal Auditor
    • Chief Audit Executive/Vice President of Internal Audit/Internal Audit Director – $130,250 / $185,250 / $290,750
    • Manager – $99,750 / $116,500 / $162,250
    • Senior – $77,250 / $90,250 / $123,750
    • 1 to 3 Years – $60,000 / $73,500 / $97,750
    • Up to 1 Year – $39,500 / $48,000 / $73,750

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 – $97,250 / $116,250 / $172,750
    • Senior – $73,750 / $84,500 / $123,250
    • 1 to 3 Years – $61,000 / $74,000 / $95,750
    • Up to 1 Year – $51,000 / $61,250 / $76,500
  • SEC Financial Reporting
    • Director – $117,750 / $142,250 / $223,750
    • Manager – $96,000 / $116,000 / $182,500
    • Analyst – $69,750 / $84,250 / $132,750
  • Financial Analyst
    • Director – $109,500 / $134,500 / $208,250
    • Manager – $87,750 / $106,000 / $167,250
    • Senior – $70,000 / $85,500 / $134,000
    • 1 to 3 Years – $57,000 / $69,250 / $107,250
    • Up to 1 Year – $44,000 / $53,250 / $82,250

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 – $164,500 / $198,7500 / $315,750
  • Analyst – $56,500 / $73,000 / $107,000
  • Commercial Lender 5+ Years – $91,500 / $110,000 / $173,500
  • Commercial Lender 3 to 5 Years – $67,250 / $79,000 / $124,250
  • Commercial Lender 1 to 3 Years – $50,000 / $60,000 / $95,250

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 – $108,500 / $132,000 / $205,500
  • Accountant 5+ Years – $70,000 / $85,250 / $133,250
  • Accountant 3 to 5 Years – $61,500 / $74,500 / $116,750
  • Accountant 1 to 3 Years – $52,250 / $64,250 / $98,500
  • Financial Planning & Analysis – Manager – $87,750 / $119,500 / $165,750
  • Financial Planning & Analysis 3 to 5 Years – $65,250 / $79,000 / $124,250
  • Financial Planning & Analysis 1 to 3 Years – $52,250 / $68,500 / $99,250
  • Mutual Fund Accountant – Manager – $59,500 / $71,000 / $112,500
  • Mutual Fund Accountant 3 to 5 Years – $43,500 / $52,000 / $82,750
  • Mutual Fund Accountant 1 to 3 Years – $39,500 / $47,000 / $74,500

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 – $169,750 / $206,250 / $323,000
  • Credit Risk Analyst – Manager – $84,000 / $101,500 / $158,000
  • Credit Risk Analyst 3 to 5 Years – $70,000 / $85,250 / $133,250
  • Compliance Analyst – $69,250 / $85,250 / $131,000

Accountant and Auditor Salaries, by State

Learn more about your state’s average salaries (50th and 90th percentiles) for accountant and auditors, according to May 2019 BLS statistics (BLS shows overall averages for all accounting professions, inclusive of all education and credential levels):

  • Alabama: $63,800 – $110,260 (approximately 17,400 accountants and auditors)
  • Alaska: $73,500 – $118,360 (approximately 2,180 accountants and auditors)
  • Arizona: $69,050 – $111,620 (approximately 22,450 accountants and auditors)
  • Arkansas: $61,390 – $100,640 (approximately 7,440 accountants and auditors)
  • California: $75,880 – $127,290 (approximately 148,500 accountants and auditors)
  • Colorado: $74,400 – $130,340 (approximately 37,180 accountants and auditors)
  • Connecticut: $77,580 – $123,700 (approximately 15,450 accountants and auditors)
  • Delaware: $74,560 – $120,020 (approximately 4,950 accountants and auditors)
  • District of Columbia: $97,420 – $153,990 (approximately 10,660 accountants and auditors)
  • Florida: $63,160 – $112,880 (approximately 71,520 accountants and auditors)
  • Georgia: $71,720 – $126,190 (approximately 36,860 accountants and auditors)
  • Hawaii: $61,950 – $95,920 (approximately 4,770 accountants and auditors)
  • Idaho: $58,700 – $98,980 (approximately 3,940 accountants and auditors)
  • Illinois: $70,500 – $120,700 (approximately 51,740 accountants and auditors)
  • Indiana: $65,380 – $107,830 (approximately 20,910 accountants and auditors)
  • Iowa: $62,280 – $102,830 (approximately 10,170 accountants and auditors)
  • Kansas: $63,130 – $104,970 (approximately 12,680 accountants and auditors)
  • Kentucky: $60,340 – $108,290 (approximately 12,080 accountants and auditors)
  • Louisiana: $60,760 – $101,600 (approximately 11,980 accountants and auditors)
  • Maine: $63,180 – $103,760 (approximately 4,390 accountants and auditors)
  • Maryland: $74,850 – $126,050 (approximately 24,540 accountants and auditors)
  • Massachusetts: $76,670 – $126,660 (approximately 34,630 accountants and auditors)
  • Michigan: $66,810 – $113,540 (approximately 35,180 accountants and auditors)
  • Minnesota: $68,130 – $104,690 (approximately 23,210 accountants and auditors)
  • Mississippi: $59,490 – $101,430 (approximately 5,780 accountants and auditors)
  • Missouri: $62,860 – $105,300 (approximately 26,530 accountants and auditors)
  • Montana: $61,950 – $102,440 (approximately 3,380 accountants and auditors)
  • Nebraska: $61,480 – $105,380 (approximately 8,250 accountants and auditors)
  • Nevada: $62,590 – $100,220 (approximately 8,140 accountants and auditors)
  • New Hampshire: $67,130 – $104,930 (approximately 5,670 accountants and auditors)
  • New Jersey: $83,430 – $144,490 (approximately 39,820 accountants and auditors)
  • New Mexico: $59,620 – $97,700 (approximately 5,950 accountants and auditors)
  • New York: $86,640 – $158,260 (approximately 112,030 accountants and auditors)
  • North Carolina: $71,100 – $121,630 (approximately 33,750 accountants and auditors)
  • North Dakota: $60,860 – $97,500 (approximately 3,780 accountants and auditors)
  • Ohio: $65,700 – $114,250 (approximately 47,240 accountants and auditors)
  • Oklahoma: $65,280 – $116,070 (approximately 14,020 accountants and auditors)
  • Oregon: $68,010 – $106,070 (approximately 12,420 accountants and auditors)
  • Pennsylvania: $69,420 – $117,650 (approximately 50,880 accountants and auditors)
  • Rhode Island: $77,870 – $122,090 (approximately 4,740 accountants and auditors)
  • South Carolina: $60,250 – $102,940 (approximately 15,980 accountants and auditors)
  • South Dakota: $63,430 – $95,250 (approximately 4,740 accountants and auditors)
  • Tennessee: $63,800 – $107,150 (approximately 22,580 accountants and auditors)
  • Texas: $72,970 – $121,900 (approximately 114,410 accountants and auditors)
  • Utah: $63,100 – $108,400 (approximately 10,250 accountants and auditors)
  • Vermont: $67,270 – $108,760 (approximately 2,610 accountants and auditors)
  • Virginia: $77,320 – $131,850 (approximately 42,200 accountants and auditors)
  • Washington: $73,660 – $123,910 (approximately 32,280 accountants and auditors)
  • West Virginia: $62,470 – $99,390 (approximately 4,250 accountants and auditors)
  • Wisconsin: $65,430 – $101,330 (approximately 22,390 accountants and auditors)
  • Wyoming: $60,850 – $98,120 (approximately 1,860 accountants and auditors)

 

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2019. Figures represent accumulated data for all employment sectors in which accountants and auditors work. 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. 

Salary data for specific job titles sourced from the 2020 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting & Finance Professionals – https://www.roberthalf.com/salary-guide/accounting-and-finance. All ranges represent starting salaries at the 50th and 95th percentiles unless otherwise noted. 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.