As with any other job, salaries for accountants vary by position because this defines a person’s responsibilities and tasks. Professionals who manage other employees receive more pay than those who only handle only the technical and informational side of accounting.
The following jobs have the highest accountant salary according to the Robert Half International 2013 Salary Guide. All are top-level positions in companies with sales of half-a-billion U.S. dollars or more. Figures do not includes bonuses or other incentives that can push total annual compensation to seven or more figures. You can compare it to the standard accountant salary and CPA salary.
- Chief Financial Officer. Together with the Chief Executive Officer and/or the Chief Operating Officer, the CFO is responsible for the monetary health of his company. His stratospheric compensation is justified by his strategic management of finances involving thousands of employees, customers and suppliers, and hundreds of millions of dollars. The average annual accountant salary for a CFO is $280,000 at the low end and $430,250 at the high end.
- Treasurer. This position receives and handles company funds, and is more concerned with the technical aspects of accounting rather than management. Treasurers may behave as CFOs but are more likely report to them or directly to the board of directors. They earn $278,000 to $422,000 yearly.
- Vice President of Finance. This position may share many of the tasks of a CFO in managing accountants and other staff to ensure the financial stability of a corporation. But it is usually not involved with the financial direction of the company. Instead, treasurers offers information about corporate finances so that officers above them can determine strategic direction. They make from $219,500 to $352,250 per year.
The lowest average accountant salary belongs to those who handle financial operations at more basic levels, typically for a small company or for a few individuals. These professionals may be starting out on their accounting careers. The positions exclude those working at a clerical level and bookkeepers who do not have accounting degrees. (For information on accounting clerks, see Accounting Clerk Salary.)
- Cost Accountant for Mid-Size Companies. These professionals collect and analyze information about how much it costs to run a business with $25 to $250 million in sales. They may examine the cost of goods, employee salaries and manufacturing expenses. They often compare actual spending with established standards to ensure that costs are not out of line. With up to one year of experience, they make $41,250 to $51,250 yearly.
- Cost Analyst for Small Companies. Cost analysts improve company efficiency by analyzing production and operational expenses, and creating reports for decision-makers. Cost analysts in companies with up to $25 million in sales receive $37,750 to $47,500 per year when starting out.
- General Accountants in Small Companies. These employees handle accounting responsibilities without managing other individuals. They may work by themselves and report directly to upper management, or be part of accounting departments under the supervision of a manager. With up to one year of experience, they earn from $36,250 to $44,750 annually.