Average Accountant Salary

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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.

A 2013 report published by the U.S. tax professional recruiting firms Tax Search Inc., TaxTalent.com, 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.

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 name Employment Annual Mean Salary Annual Median Salary
Alabama 14090 65960 61080
Alaska 2370 78480 72740
Arizona 18810 64440 58260
Arkansas 5770 62160 57660
California 144240 78090 71210
Colorado 31900 74020 67470
Connecticut 15020 77020 71650
Delaware 4700 74280 68420
District of Columbia 10540 90220 84410
Florida 72900 68060 60580
Georgia 35950 76580 68820
Guam 540 39980 37430
Hawaii 4630 59810 55570
Idaho 3470 68070 60250
Illinois 47810 73390 65970
Indiana 20320 65890 60190
Iowa 9710 62420 55770
Kansas 11310 64590 58570
Kentucky 11150 61970 55250
Louisiana 11950 62990 57360
Maine 4340 61530 56380
Maryland 25900 80360 71950
Massachusetts 36340 80030 73330
Michigan 26750 68460 61710
Minnesota 24490 68660 62780
Mississippi 5170 56030 50840
Missouri 22950 69160 60040
Montana 3030 61100 54720
Nebraska 8630 65820 57940
Nevada 7600 63260 56750
New Hampshire 4420 68250 61910
New Jersey 36200 84160 75800
New Mexico 6570 61880 56630
New York 97620 89850 78040
North Carolina 30170 71200 63640
North Dakota 3610 56230 51860
Ohio 37640 68360 61740
Oklahoma 14620 63720 55730
Oregon 11120 65820 61140
Pennsylvania 54350 70120 63620
Puerto Rico 9440 36560 32120
Rhode Island 4080 77180 70820
South Carolina 13870 59240 54610
South Dakota 4110 60000 56840
Tennessee 18680 65630 58910
Texas 106460 75210 66330
Utah 9810 68780 62320
Vermont 2780 70420 63660
Virgin Islands 430 46610 42810
Virginia 39290 78640 72280
Washington 24900 72950 66380
West Virginia 4450 59520 53950
Wisconsin 18930 67100 61150
Wyoming 1790 64730 55700