Accountants handle most of the financial transactions for a business, but they also handle some money of their own in the form of their salary. The accountant salary you earn may be significantly different than what another person earns, depending on where you work and what job position you hold. It may be impossible to pinpoint your approximate salary for the future, but you may get a rough idea if you understand the different factors that may go into your pay rate. Listed below are examples of salary levels that you may see in this profession.
Accountant Salaries by Employer
The employer that you work for will make a big difference in the amount of money you make every year. Some employers have more money to spend on their employees than others, and some expect more of their accountants than others. Ideally, you should look for jobs with Big 4 firms because they are going to pay the most money possible. Those positions do not come up often though, so you will need a lot of experience and a solid education to secure a job like that.
The chart below illustrates the average accounting salaries for different employers. The data comes from the May 2008 reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
• Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services: $61,480
• Management of companies and enterprises: 59,820
• Insurance carriers: 59,550
• Local government: 53,660
• State government: 51,250
In general, the Big 4 firms pay $5,000 to $10,000 more a year than standard accounting firms. Overall though, accountants can expect to make $50,000 to $60,000 a year based on employer alone.
Accountant Salaries by Experience
Your experience level makes a big difference in the amount of money you make as well. As expected, more experience typically yields higher accounting salaries. As an entry-level accountant, you may expect to make $50,000 to $70,000 a year. After the second year of employment as an accountant, you may make $40,000 to $80,000 a year. With three to five years of experience, you could earn a minimum of $70,000 in most locations. That number boosts to $85,000 a year when you have five to seven years of experience. Once you hit seven years of experience as an accountant, you may make well over $100,000 a year. Most accountants with more than a decade in the field make more than $150,000 on an annual basis.
Those numbers should illustrate the value of staying dedicated to your job as an accountant. You might move through the ranks from a junior staff accountant to a firm partner, with your accountant salary increasing along the way.
Accountant Salaries by Location
The standard of living in your area will also impact how much money you earn as an accountant. The salary of an accountant on the west coast is going to be much higher than the salary of an accountant in the middle of the country. The pay increases usually balance out with the cost of living in an area, so you will likely have the same amount of money left over each month regardless of where you work. Making more money just means that you will be living with higher bills to pay each month.
The list below shows the accounting salary ranges for some of the highest paid cities for accountants in the country. You can use this data to determine where you may want to work in the future.
• Santa Clara, California: $14,497 – $71,517
• Washington D.C.: $38,916 – $78,706
• San Francisco, California: $29,884 – $67,057
• San Jose, California: $34,264 – $68,506
• New York City, New York: $34,861 – $71,574
• Alexandria, Virginia: $20,608 – $93,080
• Boston, Massachusetts: $33,822 – $64,175
• Charlotte, North Carolina: $35,234 – $59,598
• Fort Worth, Texas: $25,168 – $60,820
This data is courtesy of Payscale.com. You can find information about accounting salaries for other areas on that website as well, so feel free to use it to search for the actual salary levels in your area.
Improving Your Accounting Salary
The ultimate key to improving your accounting salary is to get a solid college education. Spending four years in a bachelor’s degree program will be well worth the money you can make in the future as a result of your degree. If you want to become an accounting manager or partner, you may even consider getting a master’s degree. Luckily, you can do all of this on the web. You do not have to sacrifice your flexible schedule to pursue a chance for a higher accountant salary in the future. Check out some of the degree programs available for you if you think accounting is the right job for you.
Popular Schools and Recommended Degrees
Liberty University Online
Liberty?s online degrees are taught in a flexible online classroom environment, so students can complete assignments on their own schedules. Many of the undergraduate and postgraduate degrees offered by Liberty Online can be completed 100 percent online using an 8-week delivery format.
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