If you are looking for a career with a high starting salary and strong growth potential, look no further than the accounting profession. Accounting graduates earn starting salaries that are consistently ranked among the highest for all professions. There are many possible career paths after completing an accounting degree and each one offers the potential to earn a very large salary in a leadership role within an organization or as a business owner.
Each year, Robert Half puts out an accounting and finance salary guide. They collect data from thousands of accounting professionals and put together salary ranges which are categorized by experience and company size. Below are the midpoints of those reported ranges for each career path. Keep in mind that many factors, such as location, play a big role in the reported salaries.
The 2016 salary range midpoints at midsize public accounting firms ($25M-$250M in annual sales) were:
The 2016 salary range midpoints at small public accounting firms (up to $25M in annual sales) were:
Source: Robert Half
The figures above do not include “Partner” salaries because partners are compensated based on company performance which can vary significantly year-to-year. Many partners at large public accounting firms earn in excess of $500,000 per year!
As shown above, new and experienced accountants are starting their careers with high salaries! These figures do not include fringe benefits or bonuses which together can add up to 50% more in compensation.
Although, the salary figures above appear to show higher salaries in public accounting, keep in mind that those accountants working for businesses have the opportunity to transition into executive roles such as: vice presidents, chief financial officers, and chief executive officers. Executive officers often have accounting and finance backgrounds. Many CFOs and CEOs at large companies take home over $1M per year!
CPAs and accounting professionals in the public and private industries are typically paid a fixed salary and often eligible for a year-end bonus, depending on the company’s compensation structure. Those who become partners in a firm or start their own practice have a very high earning potential as they take part in profit sharing and extra bonuses.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for accountants and auditors is projected to grow at a 16% rate through 2020 with 190,700 new jobs added. Corporate finance jobs are expected to grow 23% through 2020. Both of these growth rates are expected to expand faster than the overall job market.
Consistent with all professions, compensation for accountants and CPAs will vary depending on factors such as: geography, education, work experience and the size of the company. A CPA in New York City will average a higher salary than a CPA working in Montana but living in an area where the pay is higher does not always equate to a higher standard of living. The cost of living in large cities can more than offset the increase in expected salary. The great thing about becoming a CPA is that the demand for your skills will allow you to live and work just about anywhere – even in a great state like Montana!