How much can accountants expect to earn in the US?

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A career in accounting in the US can be a very rewarding career choice. Median salaries generally come in above the national average year on year and it is even seen as a ‘recession proof’ job.

Why? Well, when companies are earning, and the economy is booming, they need audits. When the opposite happens, they still need those audits. Everyone has to pay taxes and despite the volatility of the financial markets, those who make a career out of finance can rejoice in some job security.

So, what exactly can you expect to earn? That depends on experience, seniority in your position and any accreditations and qualifications you hold. The top 10% of accountants earned as high as $122,000 in 2017, with partners earning even more. Pay rises are also abundant; the average accountant can expect to receive a pay rise of 3-4% annually.

Education Matters

According to Glassdoor, the average entry level salary fora US based, entry level accountant comes in at around $45,000 depending on the company. Well known firms such as Deloitte reported higher salary levels than smaller businesses. This amount is based on a graduate salary, straight out of college with no additional accreditation’s.

For those who have done the CPA exam, a much more lucrative salary awaits. On average, CPAs earn 10-15% more than those who do not take the examination. Average salary information from CPA AIS shows that a CPA would be looking at a salary in the range of $52,000 to $87,000 with1-3 years of experience and $66,000 to $110,000 with 4-6 years experience. If you can make it to a management level, you can expect to earn $76,000 to $147,000 with over 7 years experience.

Location is Key

Location plays an incredibly important role on how much you will earn. Tech hubs such as San Francisco are notorious for paying much higher salaries due to the cost of living there. So,which city should you head to? US News reported that San Jose and San Rafael in California were the top paying cities for accountants in 2017.

Not into big city living? Even non-metropolitan areas such as those in Northwest Virginia have a salary to rival that of larger cities. Accountants there can look at earning upwards of $106,000. If you can brave the cold, southern Alaska averages just short of the $100k mark.

Industry is a Factor

According to industry reports, Pipeline Transportation and the Education sector could see you earning the most. Or, if you can bag yourself a contract with the US Department of Defense you could be looking at a starting salary of over $80,000 per annum. Government accounting jobs are generally very well paid in a range of roles.

The size of the company will also have a huge impact on what you can expect to earn. Larger organizations obviously have a much healthier budget than smaller, more niche firms. Though they are much more competitive than the little guys, securing a job in the ‘Big Four’ will mean rigorous interviews, strong experience or education and unique qualities that will separate you from the rest of the pack, so it’s worth researching how you can stand out from the crowd.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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