Accountants are in charge of collecting, analyzing, organizing and making use of the financial records of their clients. They help file taxes, create budgets, analyze past and future financial performance of an organization, and keep accounting records. Becoming an accountant typically requires a bachelor’s degree, and sometimes a master’s degree, in accounting, as well as gaining licensure as a certified public accountant (CPA), although it is possible to become an accountant through a non-degree route.
According to Glassdoor salaries data, as of 2019, the national average salary for an accountant is $56,560 yearly. With progressive levels of experience, this number goes up: for 10-14 years of experience, the average base pay is $59,860 yearly, and for more than 15 years of experience, the average base pay is $60,644 yearly. The typical salary for an entry-level accountant is $49,284 yearly.
What kind of accounting job is right for you?
There is an abundance of employment opportunities in the field of accounting. Many accounting jobs typically require that you become a CPA, so make sure you’re on track to certification. Other accounting jobs are primarily based on your experience — while CFOs may not be certified as a public accountant, they certainly have years, usually decades, of experience working with financial decisions.
While not all jobs within the field of accounting pay equally, we’ve pulled together the highest-paying ones so that you can aim your career arrows towards these targets.
Which accounting jobs pay the most money?
Glassdoor Salary Range: $86,000 – $286,000+
A Chief Financial Officer, or CFO, is the head honcho for everything financial within an organization. They forecast, analyze and manage financial risks for an organization, make short- and long-term financial goals and projections for a company, support the company in financial decisions and oversee financial record-keeping and reporting. The CFO often works closely with a company’s COO, or chief operating officer, to manage the company’s budget, create financial forecasts and secure funding for the company.
Glassdoor Salary Range: $78,000 – $155,000
A controller is often one step below the CFO of an organization. They have wide-ranging responsibilities within the firm relating to accounting, which range from preparing budgets and managing financial reporting to overseeing the company’s payroll. The controller also may help in recruiting and training of new employees in the accounting department.
Glassdoor Salary Range: $88,000 – $174,000
The accounting director of an organization oversees accounting activities in an organization, in addition to serving as a manager to employees in an accounting department. An accounting director may also work to shape a company’s accounting practices and protocol, develop accounting strategies and oversee the hiring of accounting employees.
Glassdoor Salary Range: $74,000 – $132,000
Financial managers keep the finances of the organization they work for in check, and work to support the leadership of the organization with financial advice. The duties of a financial manager can be far-ranging. They include providing and interpreting financial information, preparing financial statements and reports, supervising employees who do financial reporting and budgeting, developing financial strategies for a company and supporting management in all financial matters.
Glassdoor Salary Range: $52,000 – $96,000
Senior accountants are typically promoted from the position of staff accountant or accounts payable specialists. They are in charge of financial bookkeeping activities for companies both small and large. Their duties also include preparing financial reports, crafting budgets and keeping track of an organization’s financials.
Glassdoor Salary Range: $51,000 – $88,000
Tax accountants prepare and file state and federal taxes for their clients. They also often provide advice to their clients on how to get the best return on their taxes. Tax accountants work with everyone from individuals to companies. Often, tax accountants are either self-employed with their own firm, work for accounting firms or work within a large company.
Glassdoor Salary Range: $34,000 – $55,000
Accounts payable specialists work to make sure that company bills are paid on time. This includes invoices that the company owes, the company’s payroll and other outgoing payments. Accounts payable specialists need to have a knack for organization — the job requires keeping track of income and expenses, checking accounts for accuracy and keeping documentation for taxes and audits.
Accounting Career Paths
Becoming an accountant typically requires an investment in your education. This usually means a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, gaining experience, and ultimately, certification. Some accountants do not gain degrees and instead train through apprenticing and gaining experience in the field. Accounting is an experience-based profession, which means the more time you put in the field, the more career opportunities open themselves to you.