Accounting Major Starting Salary

Depending on factors such as GPA, experience, industry, and firm size, accounting majors can receive lucrative offers after college, often $55,000 or more. Not too shabby for a first job after school! According to
Accounting Major Starting, the average starting salary for new accounting graduates in 2013 was $53,300 – a 7% increase over the prior year.

Below are some of the reported salaries for accounting positions with less than 1 year of experience at large companies:

Audit Associate (Public Firm)

Salary: $54,250 – $66,250
Role: Audit associates compile, review, and audit financial statements to ensure they are in conformity with US GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). As part of the audit of the financial statements, the audit team issues an independent “opinion” on whether the presented financial statements are materially accurate to the company’s financial position. If the company is private, the opinion and financial statements are made available to the stakeholders of the company. If the company is public, the report is filed with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and made available to the general public. Public firms usually require new hires to meet the CPA Exam requirements for their state.

Tax Associate (Public Firm)

$54,250 – $67,250
The goal of the outside tax team is to help the client reduce their tax liability while adhering to the Internal Revenue Service code. Tax associates work with clients to prepare federal, state, and local tax returns. They also work on tax research projects as well as help clients with their tax planning. Tax associates are viewed as “consultants” but they also assist external audit teams in auditing a company’s tax provision which is reported on their financial statements.

Financial Analyst

Salary: $45,250 – $59,000
Role:  Financial analysts assess financial data, trends, processes, and variances. They use their analysis to predict future financial outcomes and create reports for internal and external users of the financial information. Some companies hire financial analysts directly out of college while others recruit CPAs with public accounting experience for Sr. Financial Analyst roles.

Cost Accountant

Salary: $44,500 – $56,250
Role: Cost accountants focus on providing internal financial information to management to enable them to make operational business decisions. They typically work close with inventory managers and plant controllers to assess material, labor, and overhead variances to standard costs. 

Internal Auditor

Salary:  $49,750 – $66,500
Role:  While audit associates perform audits on independent clients; internal auditors perform financial and operational audits within their own company. They assess their company for areas of financial risk and inefficiency and then use audit procedures to better understand those areas of risk and weakness. Upper management uses the internal audit reports to make decisions to improve operations and mitigate financial risk. Internal auditors also test a company’s internal controls.  The external audit firm will often rely on those tests for their integrated audit.

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