Accounting Salary

Average Accountant Salary

Recent statistics reveal there are plenty of reasons why accountants can expect their career opportunities—and their salaries—to grow in upcoming years.

A 2013 survey conducted by professional staffing firm ManpowerGroup revealed that for the third year in a row, jobs in accounting and finance are among the top ten hardest jobs for employers to fill. This survey of 1,000 U.S.-based employers found that 32 percent reported having a lack of available candidates for accounting jobs.  As demand for qualified accountants increase, so too has compensation as employers continue to develop better benefits packages and offer higher starting salaries in an effort to attract top talent.

The credentials and qualifications that top paying employers find most desirable include:

  • Experience with one of the Big-Four accounting firms
  • CPA license
  • MBA (for jobs in senior-level finance)
  • CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst)
  • PMP (Project Management Professional)
  • CPP (Certified Payroll Professional)
  • CIA (Certified Internal Auditor)
  • CMA (Certified Management Accountant)
  • CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor)
  • CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst)
  • CGMA (Chartered Global Management Accountant)

For a comprehensive list, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Post-Secondary Institutions and Programs.


Whether you’re a CPA candidate with a bachelor’s degree looking to complete those last 30 semester hours, or a business professional looking to expand your career options, earning a graduate degree in accounting will place you at the top of your field.

The MS in Accounting through Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management is designed to build upon undergraduate education in a wide variety of majors.

The MBA-Accounting program through Capella University integrates business administration with vital accounting skills while Capella’s MBA-Accounting CPA Pathway program is specifically designed to prepare business leaders for CPA licensure.

Salary Trends for New Accounting Program Graduates

Accounting Web, an online resource for accounting professionals, reported that many of the bigger firms in the country are offering signing bonuses for top grad talent. Recent graduates entering bigger firms out of college can expect a salary package in the range of the high $50,000s to the low $60,000s, depending on location. Even smaller firms are offering new grads salaries in the mid-$40,000 range.


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A 2013 report published by the U.S. tax professional recruiting firms Tax Search Inc.,, and the U.K.-based firm BPA found that the overall trend in accounting is an increased need for staffing and a limited supply of talent. The report found that demand for tax professionals across the board would remain high as lower supply continues to increase salary levels and incentives.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported that more than half of all companies surveyed expect to hire recent graduates of accounting programs.

How Increased Hiring and Competition for Top Talent Drives up Starting Salaries

The Robert Half Salary Guide has become one of the most authoritative resources on starting salaries and hiring trends in the accounting and finance fields. Many employers now use the guide to benchmark their salaries.

As hiring continues and demand for qualified accountants grows, employers are increasingly under pressure to find and retain the best talent. As the economy surges forward and more jobs in accounting and finance are being filled, accounting departments are being expanded in an effort to relieve the burden on current staff and improve morale.

Other factors driving hiring in the accounting and finance fields include a steady stream of retiring baby boomers and regulatory compliance mandates that call for increased oversight and stricter controls. Professionals with specialized skills in the area of auditing, financial analysis, compliance, and business systems continue to experience the highest level of demand.

Corporate Accountant Salaries

Salaries for new accounting professionals (less than 1 year of experience) in the corporate environment (large companies: $250+ million in sales) earned the following annual salaries:

  • Tax accountant: $47,500-$60,000
  • Cost accountant: $46,750-$57,750
  • General accountant: $45,250-$55,250

Experience plays a major role in the salaries of accountants, as is evident when looking at the average salaries of senior accounting professionals in the corporate environment (large companies: $250+ million in sales):

  • Tax accountant: $76,000-$96,000
  • Cost accountant: $69,750-$91,500
  • General accountant: $57,500-$70,000

Salary ranges for auditors and business analysts remains high in the corporate environment, as these accounting professionals possess the specialized skills that many employers look for. Robert Half reported the following salaries for new auditors (less than 1 year of experience) with large companies ($250+ million in sales):

  • Internal auditor: $52,000-$64,250
  • IT auditor: $59,750-$75,500
  • Financial reporting: $52,500-$64,250
  • Business analyst: $50,000-$63,750

Similar to general accountants, senior auditors in the same corporate environment earned significantly more:

  • Internal auditor: $80,000-$106,250
  • IT auditor: $94,750-$125,500
  • Financial reporting: $86,500-$107,000
  • Business analyst: $78,000-$100,500

Not surprisingly, executive-level accounting positions in corporate accounting ($500+ million in sales) earned some of the highest salaries among all accounting professionals:

  • Chief financial officer: $291,250-$465,750
  • Treasurer: $291,000-$453,750
  • Vice president of finance: $231,750-$375,750
  • Director of finance: $159,250-$236,500
  • Director of accounting: $152,500-$209,000
  • Corporate controller: $159,000-$224,750

Public Accountant Salaries

Accountants in the public accounting field experienced increases of about 4 percent between 2014 and 2015. Robert Half reported that new accountants (less than 1 year of experience) earned the following salaries in large firms ($250+ million in sales):

  • Tax services: $55,750-$69,750
  • Audit/assurance services: $56,000-$68,000
  • Management services: $54,750-$71,250

Senior accountants in the same areas of public accounting earned significantly more, indicating the impressive salary potential for accounting professionals that possess significant experience:

  • Tax services: $78,500-$106,500
  • Audit/assurance services: $78,250-$101,250
  • Management services: $77,500-$104,500

Accountants at the senior manager/director level earned the highest salaries in public accounting:

  • Tax services: $119,000-$198,000
  • Audit/assurance services; $118,500-$191,750
  • Management services: $118,250-$195,250

Salaries Among Accountants in Financial Services

Accountants working in the financial services sector saw salary increases of between 2.9 and 3.7 percent between 2014 and 2015:

  • Chief financial officer: $155,000-$275,000
  • Controller (large firms): 151,500-$193,000
  • Accountant (5+ years of experience): $70,500-$89,000
  • Accountant (1 to 3 years of experience): $46,000-$59,750
  • Product controller, manager: $94,000-$118,500
  • Product controller (1 to 3 years of experience): $57,000-$73,250
  • Financial planning and analysis, manager: $90,000-$120,500
  • Financial planning and analysis (1 to 3 years of experience): $56,250-$75,000

Accountant Salaries by State

A 2014 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) revealed that accounting students earned an average starting salary of $52,900, which is substantially higher than the 2012 average of $49,700. The NACE survey also found that the professional, scientific, and technical services industry and the finance and insurance sector remain the top two employers within the accounting profession.


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The US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics provides an analysis of salaries for accountants throughout the country based on a state-by-state salary survey published in May 2014. These salaries represent salaried accountants on payroll with accounting firms and corporate accounting departments and do not include self-employed accountants in independent practice:

Area nameEmploymentAnnual Mean SalaryAnnual Median Salary
District of Columbia105409022084410
New Hampshire44206825061910
New Jersey362008416075800
New Mexico65706188056630
New York976208985078040
North Carolina301707120063640
North Dakota36105623051860
Puerto Rico94403656032120
Rhode Island40807718070820
South Carolina138705924054610
South Dakota41106000056840
Virgin Islands4304661042810
West Virginia44505952053950