Knowing what to pay, or be paid, for different accounting positions can be pretty tricky. Accounting salaries can vary from city to city and from role to role. Combine that with the fact that there are all sorts of different types of accountants and figuring out what the typical salary is can be difficult. Accountants range from small company bookkeepers with no formal accounting training to large public company senior accountants who are Certified Public Accountants. The salary expectations for those individuals are very different so understanding the experience and background of the role in question is a big differentiator.
For the purposes of this article, I’ll avoid talking about management-level individuals who happen to be accountants as that would create too broad of a focus to cover in one article. From the employer’s perspective, it’s not only important to know this information for hiring purposes but also to ensure that you don’t lose your existing staff to competitors by not compensating them sufficiently. From an employee perspective, you want to make sure you’re getting a competitive wage where you’re working and if not have an idea of what you can get elsewhere, or at least what you’re giving up by staying at your current job. A popular online job posting site provides the following summary of accounting-related jobs and the salaries associated. As you can see depending on the role a wide range of accounting salaries are available depending on the role and experience of the individual. The average wage indicated is $57,000, which also aligns with the Robert Half salary guide for 2014. Where the job is, or can be, also has a significant impact on the salary level that can be expected for the role. Of major cities in the US, accounting salaries are 141% higher than the averages above in New York City, while in El Paso Texas the salaries are only 70% of the averages. So an accountant doing a job in New York can expect just over double what the accountant in El Paso can expect for doing the same job.
So as an employer you need to carefully consider the location and the skill set/experience of the hiring you are doing. A nationwide firm looking to set up a central accounting office should avoid doing so in a major city like New York. Additionally, the title and roles you are hiring for should be carefully tailored to your exact needs. If you need a bookkeeper with no formal accounting designation, make that clear in your job posting. An employer should also keep an eye on national statistics when it comes to annual wage discussions. Making sure that you keep your accounting role salaries in the appropriate range for your region and for the role is crucial to retaining staff.
Choosing where you work and what you do is always about tradeoffs. If you are looking to make the most money as quickly as possible, you want to consider financial and cost accounting roles in larger cities and business hubs. This comes with the warning, however, that these types of jobs in business hubs usually come with substantial work hour expectations. If you’re comfortable staying where you are and working in the role you have you still want to be aware of what your worth is from a job perspective. Again, keeping an eye on national statistics and understanding what you should be paid for your job in your region is important. Knowing you can make $2,000 a year more if you changed jobs can be useful when it comes to salary discussions.