An accountant is a financial professional who records and inspects finances. So how much do they make? The quick response is $55,000 to $95,000 per year, but with great variability depending on certifications, company size, type of accounting, etc. Read on to learn more about what YOU need to know about accountant jobs and salary.

What An Accountant Does

An accountant manages the financial health of a business. Accountants track ingoing and outgoing funds, monitor savings and debt levels, file taxes, and ensure compliance. U.S. News reports that accountants use a broad set of skills and characteristics to perform daily tasks. 

Accountant responsibilities may include:

  • Compute money going in and out
  • Create and review statements for accuracy 
  • Send invoices
  • Disburse funds
  • Utilize accounting software and maintain financial information
  • Prepare taxes and complete returns
  • Monitor budgets
  • Suggest financial practices to maximize revenue, decrease costs
  • Communicate with clients

Types of Accounting Jobs

Accountants come in all shapes and sizes—professionally speaking. Depending on certifications, industries, education, and experience, accountant best practices may vary.  The client or business in question may require a specific brand of accounting for best practices. 

Accountant Type Description Education/Certification
Public Accountant Accounting, taxes, and auditing for general purpose business & individuals Bachelor’s Degree

CPA Certification preferred

Management Accountant (AKA Private Accountant or Internal Accountant) In-house accountants who provide accounting and analysis for internal management Bachelor’s Degree

CMA Certification

Auditor Risk analysis of business funds, finding and eliminating financial waste (may consult or operate in-house) Bachelor’s Degree

CPA Certification

Forensic Accountant Uncover fraud, noncompliance, illegal activity, omissions, etc Bachelor’s Degree

CFE Certification

As a financial professional, it’s critical to classify accountant roles appropriately both for certification and compensation. Be certain that job descriptions, resumes, and trainings are tailored to the accounting job in question. 

Accountants may want to consider adding certifications to increase their earning potential and qualify themselves for more job opportunities in the future.

How Much Do Accountants Make?

In addition to many perks of a secure job, accountants can expect to make a favorable salary. An accountant salary can vary widely, but the general range is between $55,000 and $95,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

As a controller or Chief Financial Officer, you may be wondering if you’re paying your accounting staff correctly according to market value and skill. As an accountant or prospective accountant, you may be interested in the compensation for particular accounting roles 

Factors that may influence an accountant’s salary are:

  • Location & cost of living
  • Industry
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Certifications
  • Number of clients
  • Number of direct reports
  • Size of the company
  • Compensation packages—benefits, stock options, etc.

To get a more specific idea for a potential accounting salary you can search various accounting roles and adjust some of these factors here. Although hypothetical, the estimate can help you make decisions about financial jobs and negotiations.

Accountant Salary Breakdown

Job Type Salary
Bookkeeper $30,000
Entry Level Accountant $40,000
Tax Accountant $55,000
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) $62,000
Certified Internal Auditor $65,000
Financial Accountant (4-6 years experience) $80,000
Big Four Firm Accountant $90,000+
Senior Accountant (7+ years experience) $100,000
MBA Accountant/Accounting Director $125,000

 

Accounting certifications are usually earned through a brief study course and certification test, once a college accounting degree is obtained. According to Robert Half, certifications can range from a few hundred dollars in cost to $40,000+ depending on the level of complication, but most certifications will prove to be worth the increase in salary

Often a controller or Chief Financial Officer will encourage accountants to receive further certifications by covering the cost of continuing education or even offering in-house training to prepare accountants for certification exams. This could be an excellent option for your organization that will keep stellar candidates sharp and loyal to your business, as well as motivating interested accountants who may otherwise be unwilling or unable to dedicate the time and money to extra certifications.

What Accountants Can Expect

While accounting can sometimes get a bad rap (think: bean counter), it’s actually one of the smartest, safest job fields. Accountants enjoy many benefits and regular perks that make cost analysis and tax-filing even more fulfilling. And of course, as with any job there are potential drawbacks as well.

Pros and Cons of Accounting

Pros Cons
  • Above average salary
  • Consistently positive job security
  • Growing job outlook (read: more options and competitive benefits)
  • Standard work hours, outside of tax season
  • Diverse options for continuing education
  • Flexibility to work for yourself
  • Increasing salary trajectory
  • Entry level competition—getting that first accounting job can be challenging
  • Difficult detail work
  • Need for additional certifications to succeed
  • Seasonal overtime (tax season!)
  • Repetitive office work

Accountants in a successful business should enjoy generous compensation, opportunities for continuing education, an upward career path, and stable organization. A healthy accounting department is vital for the overall success of your business, regardless of other factors, so be sure to invest time and resources to find and create accounting jobs that fairly compensate to attract the very best candidates for your organization.

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