Accounting Salaries Keep Going Up

Salaries for accountants are expected to increase next year by an average of 2.4 percent, according to a 2016 Salary Guide released Tuesday by the recruiting firm Accounting Principals.

The guide contains national, regional and local salary data, along with job descriptions for the most sought-after accounting and finance positions. 

“On average it looks like we’re seeing between 2 and 3 percent [salary increases],” said Accounting Principals senior vice president Jodi Chavez. “We’re anticipating that to go closer to 5 percent in the next few years just based on the demand for finance and accounting professionals. At some point, salary increases will need to catch up with the supply and demand that is in the marketplace, and it’s certainly a good problem to have.”

The report also analyzed U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data to determine the highest projected job growth in the industry. The report found that the fastest-growing accounting and finance jobs through 2022 are expected to be financial analysts (16 percent), accounts payable and receivable specialists (15 percent), staff accountants (13 percent), bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks (11 percent), financial clerks (11 percent), and financial managers (9 percent) 

The average base salaries for these positions range from $33,040 (for bookkeeping) to $51,204 (for financial analyst) to $74,674 (for financial manager).

“We’re seeing a relatively significant [salary] increase of 3 percent in senior accountants,” said Chavez.

She added that the salary guide is regional and specific to local markets, with the 3 percent figure being an average.

“Financial analysts are another growing market,” she noted. “CFOs are also in high demand. That would equate to a 2 to 3 percent increase as well. The reason for the increase is not just because of supply and demand, but also because the need for finance and accounting professionals to have a hybrid of business acumen and/or IT, coupled with their finance and accounting skills, is really lending itself to companies paying a little bit more for those positions than they traditionally would have in the past.”

Accounting Principals is seeing significant growth in salaries and demand for accountants in the Washington, D.C., area, New York, the Chicago area, Texas, San Francisco and Silicon Valley. But other parts of the country are also seeing growth.

“The salary increases are more evenly spread across the country, with the exception of those cities that are leading the growth,” said Chavez. “But outside of those, the rest of the country is starting to see some significant movement as far as salary increases, which is nice to see. Coming out of the downturn, we did not see much in terms of salary increases, and we’ve just started to see that in probably the last quarter.”

Starting salaries for accountants have bounced back a bit too, although they never took too much of a hit after the recession. Another staffing and recruiting company, Robert Half, also released its annual salary guide last week, predicting average starting salaries in accounting and finance will rise 4.7 percent next year (see Accounting Salaries Expected to Rise Next Year).

“The way to get a higher starting salary is if you come with an additional skill set,” Chavez advised. “Employers are willing to pay for that. That additional skill set can either be in terms of some IT expertise coupled with your finance and accounting experience, or if there’s some business acumen that you can also bring to the table, or a second language. Perhaps there’s financial value to an organization in that as well. We were delighted to see that salaries are starting to shift upward. Employers are more confident in their bottom line numbers and are happy to share some of that profit in their human capital line with their employees and invest in the right skill sets that they need to continue to grow.”

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.