Accountants record, organize and in many cases, process financial transactions for businesses, government agencies, social organizations and individuals. They can develop budgets, ensure monetary exchanges follow strict control, ensure compliance with government regulations and pay taxes. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the jobs for accountants will increase by 15.7 percent from 2010 to 2020. For more information see Accounting Prospects. (Image courtesy of Ken Teegardin of SeniorLiving.org.)
Accountants typically have a bachelor’s or master’s degree though bookkeepers and accounting clerks can have certificates or associate degrees from junior colleges. Licensing is not needed except for those filing documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Such individuals require the Certified Public Account (CPA) designation, which provides higher salaries than those of the average accountant. Accounting clerks help accountants with no more than a high school diploma. For more information, see Accounting Clerk Salary.
Accountant Salary Comparisons
According to the March 27, 2012 data release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean accountant salary in the U.S. runs $33.72 per hour or $70,130 per year. Over 1.08 million are employed as of 2011. These figures include both standard accountants and CPAs.
- Accountants make over 50 percent more than the mean $21.74 per hour or $45,230 per year made by all 127.09 million workers in the country.
- They receive slightly more than the average $33.05 per hour or $68,740 per year earned by all six million workers in business and financial operations.
- This job category includes personal financial advisers who get $90,900 annually, financial analysts who receive $87,740 per year and tax preparers who average $39,410 yearly.
- Areas with the most accountant work may not offer the best salaries. For more information, see Most Accountant Work.
Accountant Salary Differences
The average accountant salary differs by position, industry, state and city.
- Not surprisingly, the position showing the highest average accountant salary is Chief Financial Officer for a large corporation. The lowest wages are for general accountants at small companies. For more information, see Accountant Salary by Position. You can also find out about other jobs that accountants can enter at Additional Accountant Jobs.
- The highest paying industries for accountants are dry cleaning and laundry services. The lowest paying are casino hotels. For more information on accountant salaries by employer, see Accountant Salary by Industry.
- The metro area with the highest mean accountant salary is New York. The metro area with the lowest pay is Cape Girardeau, Missouri to Jackson, Illinois. For more information on urban wages, see Accountant Salary by City
- With states, New York has the highest average pay for accountants. North Dakota has the lowest. For more information on salaries by state, see Accountant Salary by State. For information the accountant salary in the most populous state, see California Accountant Salary.
CPA Salary Comparisons
According to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the average CPA salary is generally more than 10-to-15 percent over the average accountant wage because of the more stringent educational and licensing requirements. The CPA designation is the most commonly requested qualification for company accountants, states Robert Half International. Many CPAs end up in high management positions.
For the latest openings for finance or accounting jobs visit Accounting Principals.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Accountant and Auditors
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants: Salary and Demand
Robert Half Finance and Accounting: Home Page
PayScale Report: Salary for CPA Jobs