Other than educational requirements, how much accountants can earn is one of the major concerns of those contemplating careers in accounting. As is the case with most career salaries, the accounting salary can vary from one job or individual to the next.
Accountants have various responsibilities, including creating financial forms, preparing taxes, accessing financial operations and making recommendations to organizations, inspecting financial documents for accuracy, monitoring accounting systems and helping businesses remain profitable. Depending on the job duties and place of employment, there can be an excellent wage potential for accountants.
What Factors Affect Accountant Salary?
The salary an accountant can earn can be affected by many things.
- Education – A higher degree will generally offer a higher salary.
- Training – The more training the candidate has, the less they’ll need by a potential employer.
- Experience – The more experience an applicant has, the more attractive the applicant will look to an employer.
- Certifications – Accountants who obtain certifications, such as CPA, are valued highly in the industry.
- Location – Accountant salaries vary not just from state to state but also city to city.
- Employer – The type and size of a business can affect the wages.
Average Salary for Accountants
Learning how much an accountant can earn can also vary by which agency is performing the wage research. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that accountant wages ranged from $43,020 to $122, 22 or more with the average wage at $77,920 as of May 2017. They also indicated the average hourly wage was $37.46. According to an August 2018 report by PayScale, the average annual wage for accountants was $50,138, and the average hourly wage was $19.66.
How Location Can Affect Wages
Of all the factors that can affect an accountant’s salary, geographic location is probably the one with the largest impact. While larger cities usually offer higher wages for accountants, an accounting salary will also vary from one state to the next. Here are the top-paying states for accountants, the lowest-paying states and the average wages for both as of May 2017 as reported by the BLS.
- District of Columbia – $96,880
- New York – $95,430
- New Jersey – $91,400
- Virginia – $84,740
- California – $83,540
- Puerto Rico – $36,560
- Mississippi – $59,960
- North Dakota – $60,550
- South Carolina – $64,220
- Idaho – $64,640
The difference between Mississippi and New York demonstrates the substantial difference there can be from one state to another. While it is true that some of the cities that offer the highest wages also have the highest cost of living, it can still be advantageous to live in those states. It’ll definitely benefit an accountant applicant to shop around before accepting an accounting job offer.
How to Become an Accountant
Individuals who want to become accountants must have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting, auditing, finance or a related field. Although graduates of accounting associate degree programs may find entry-level positions, a higher degree is typically needed to be hired as an accountant. Accounting programs usually include coursework and internships. Candidates who wish to become CPAs must complete an additional 30 graduate credits beyond the baccalaureate degree and pass a series of four exams.
Accounting is a field that will always be around whether it’s for individuals, small firms or large organizations. The bureau predicts accountants will see a job growth of 10% between 2016 and 2026. Their importance will continue to provide a lucrative accounting salary to qualified candidates.