Salaries for management accountant rose last year, driven by Sarbanes-Oxley, according to a new salary survey by the Institute of Management Accountants.

Management accountants and finance professionals outpaced public accountants in both average salary and total compensation in 2004, according to the survey of 1,400 IMA members. Public accounting, which held the top spot in 2003, fell to sixth place last year, with management accountants and finance professionals rising to first and second place, according to the findings of the 16th annual IMA salary survey.

Salaries and compensation were higher for professionals holding only a Certified Management Accountant credential ($97,908), than for those with a CPA credential alone ($93,104). Professionals with both certifications had the highest earnings of all ($105,155), and those with neither certification had the lowest ($79,763).

Top finance professionals earned an average of $104,962 in salary and $124,288 in total compensation last year. The salaries of general management averaged $104,876, and their total compensation surpassed finance professionals at $128,278, according to the survey.

Internal auditors, who held the No. 3 spot, reported average salaries of $102,385 and total compensation of $121,727, while public accountants reported average salaries of $96,209 and average compensation of $110,465 last year.

The salary gains weren't limited to those in management. Median income for internal auditors in the bottom fifth in terms of earnings rose to $62,250 last year, from $58,900 in 2003 and $55,000 in 2002, the IMA survey found.

Women's salaries were found to be far closer to men's for the internal auditors taking part in the survey than for women accountants and auditors nationally. At the senior management level, female internal auditors earned salaries that were 93.3 percent of their male counterparts. At the entry and lower levels, women made just over 90 cents for every dollar earned by men, but the gap widened for salaries in middle and senior management. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women's salaries for accounting and auditing positions were only 74.9 percent of men's nationally in 2002, the latest year for which national figures are available.

But the IMA study found a much wider gap between female and male internal auditors when total compensation was taken into account. For example, a woman auditor who heads a department but doesn't report directly to either the chief executive or the board earned an average salary of $98,163 last year, compared to $109,043 paid to a male auditor for the same job. But her total compensation was $115,985, compared to $130,043 for her male counterpart. The most common forms of additional compensation were bonuses and profit sharing, but automobile allowances, stock options, summer school teaching and overtime were also in the mix.

The survey, the results of which appear in the June issue of Strategic Finance magazine, was conducted by Karl E. Reichardt, CMA, associate dean and associate professor of accounting in the College of Business Administration of Valparaiso University, and David L. Schroeder, associate professor of information and decision sciences at Valparaiso's College of Business Administration.

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