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What is an accountants pay like?

I'm interested in joining the business trade and hopefully becoming an accountant but have no prior experience. #business #finance #accounting #finance

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Yunqing (Meredith)’s Answer

Just to add on.
First, it is better if you figure out what kind of Accountant you want to be. There are several different types.

I am in public accounting so my title will be "auditor" after I turned full time. The reason for "public" is that auditors are supposed to work on behalf of the public interest. We will go into different companies to perform audit on their financial statements. We only test if our clients' financial statement complies with the regulations on financial statements, but we do not make any changes to their financial statements. We need to make sure the audited financial statements are relevant, useful and accurate. In short, we are helping regulate the financial markets so the investors, creditors, and other stakeholders can trust and confidently use the financial statements from the companies to make decisions.

There are tax accountants. PwC and many CPA firms or financial services firms all have tax service line. Tax accountants are helping the companies and individuals to perform their tax forms. Mainly tax accountants are going to stay in tax.

Corporate accountants are the companies own accountants, They are doing daily accounting jobs for the companies. They basically are the ones keeping the companies operating. There are different types of corporate accountant depending on what industry of the employers. For example, if you are going to a mutual fund then they will have a lot of fund accountants. Factories are demanding cost accountant. There are accountants specialize in Account Payables, Account Receivables, and Finance and etc.

The differences among these types are as following:
1. Auditors always travel because we are always going to our clients' site and we keep have new engagements. Tax and Corporate accountants are more stable since they are mainly in the office.
2. Auditors will audit different companies in different industries. Tax accountants will also work for different companies but only looking at these companies' tax. Corporate accountants only work on behalf their employers.
3. Typically, people switch between auditor and corporate accountant. Tax accountants will always be tax accountants, but sometimes they will be tax lawyers.

So different accountants will be paid differently. Different employers will pay differently. The same employer will pay different for different office locations. Different experience level will be paid drastically differently. It really depends.
Just to give you an idea. The average base pay for an entry level auditor in the Los Angeles area, will be paid $56,011/yr. According to Glassdoor, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/los-angeles-accountant-salary-SRCH_IL.0,11_IM508_KO12,22.htm

If you want to check on other locations on Glassdoor as well.
Hope it helps. :)

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Lauren’s Answer

Your best bet is to look through glassdoor and filter by your location/experience level. You also could consider researching open positions on linkedin and seeing if they have a posted salary range.

I would recommend doing what Lauren suggests. Salary.com is also a good place to start. Salaries depend on how big the organization is, your experience, location, and various other factors. Good luck. Erica Favela-Johnson

I'll second this comment. Glassdoor and other similar resources online are a simple search away and often include criteria such as location, years experience, date of salary reporting, etc. which largely drive the salary of an employee. While there may be some variations, this is a fairly accurate benchmark. Luke Ilijevski, CPA

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Richard’s Answer

Pay ranges radically based on qualification, experience, location and sector.

What I would say is that Glassdoor and recruitment company surveys will give you a broad range of salary guides.

1 piece of advice I would give is that salary is not everything. It forms only part of the equation for a job.....for example you may be working as an accountant with a lower salary then others but your job may have a greater career path and potentially in the future you will then gain a larger bump in salary and career progression

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Aamir’s Answer

Hi Ash,

The question is quite ambiguous and depends on a lot of factors, such as the company your work for, the cost of living of the city you work in, and your experience. What I can say is that the better qualified you are as a candidate, the more you can negotiate your way to a higher salary. Additionally, most first year accountants make more or about the same as peers in different industries. It really just depends. Hope this helps!

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Cody’s Answer

Accountants pay depends on whether or not you are working in the private or public sector. The private sector typically pays better than the public sector, however; the public sector has a lot of room for growth in your career. Also, in times like these (COVID19), being an accountant has a better chance of keeping your job as it is more "recession proof" than other careers.

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Nicholas’s Answer

Coming out of college, the average accountants salary is about 47k a year, however these numbers are pulled from 2017, and I'm sure are higher now! Focus on your job and move up the ranks in this industry, and the pay can rise exponentially, there is no limit to what accountants can make

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Vincent’s Answer

If you decide to pursue a career in public accounting, the earning potential is very rewarding. I would do a quick google search on the companies you are interviewing with to give you a good idea of the starting point. Most likely the salary will jump up 5%-10% per year for your first few years. A partner once told me money will come if you work hard! So best of luck to you!!

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Kirti’s Answer

Hi Jessica,

I found the below link really helpful:

However, there are several factors that determine one's pay. I have tried to list below as many as i can:

1) Your scores
2) Reputation and ranking of your college
3) Value of studying accountancy from the said college
4) The company hiring you
5) The companies internal pay scale based on levels and experience
6) The level at which you join the company
7) The experience that you have
8) I know that you are just starting out, but if you have experience then what was your erstwhile pay
9) The kind of salary increments that your organization offers
10) Whether you have been promoted

In summary, there is no exact figure that one can call out to tell the exact pay that one receives in accountancy.

Hope this helps. :)


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Aamir’s Answer

Hi Ash,

The question is quite ambiguous and depends on a lot of factors, such as the company your work for, the cost of living of the city you work in, and your experience. What I can say is that the better qualified you are as a candidate, the more you can negotiate your way to a higher salary. Additionally, most first year accountants make more or about the same as peers in different industries. It really just depends. Hope this helps!

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Zoe’s Answer

Hi Jessica,

There really is no one answer for this. The pay range depends on the industry such as private or public accounting. I advise you to search on Glassdoor and other resources to look at the median or average pay for the company you want to work in as well as for the role you want to take on.

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Lucineh’s Answer

Hi there!

The short answer is "it depends". Depending on the industry you would like to enter, also whether you would be in Tax or Audit. Finally and more importantly whether you would become a CPA. I would search the median income of accounting fields. That should give you a general idea of what the range for this profession is.

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Alex’s Answer

An account can typically make anywhere from 50k to 5 million. Public accounting offers huge earning potential if you stick it out to become a tax or audit partner. This can typically take over 12 years but will be more than worth it in the long term.

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Andrew’s Answer

Great question - but I want to offer a different kind of answer to this question.


Simply put $50k (+/- $5k) can be the expected salary right out of college for a medium to large company. It does vary depending on if you go into public or industry accounting right off the bat.

My suggestion would be, as many have said above, to review glassdoor for a general sense.

Most importantly, salary is not everything. Most companies/firms provide several other benefits that should be taken into consideration for total compensation rather than just salary. Some of the important ones include:

1. 401(k) options and MATCHING - this is very important to consider. I think all Berkshire Hathaway companies for instance match 100% uncapped but their salaries are lower.
2. Health Insurance
3. PTO plans and work flexibility
4. Remote working options
5. Company events/outings

Salary is one of the least important parts of a job in your first several years. Your focus should be on gaining as much experience and exposure as possible, and finding a true mentor who can coach you as you grow.

Good luck, I hope this helps! I created a checklist below for you to follow when considering a specific company.

Andrew recommends the following next steps:

Look up company on Glassdoor with google search - Example - "Aimbridge Hospitality Accountant Salary"
Research different accountant roles within that company and you'll see the salary ranges from low to high
Review the other benefits and ESPECIALLY review the notes that prior employees have left. They will give more detail on salary, benefits, and total compensation
Last but not least, culture at a company is important to overall well-being and content in the workplace. This is something that salary will not outweigh - make sure you research the culture and values of a company carefully.

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Ash’s Answer

Kirti's answer is awesome. If you have a specific type of accounting job or company in mind, you can search Glassdoor for a range of possible salaries for that position.

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Joshua’s Answer

Assuming you are talking about "public" accounting, you can expect beginning salaries to approximate $50K plus or minus depending on where you are starting your career (salaries will be higher on the coasts and less in other parts of the U.S.). After that, it all depends on how you progress from Staff to Senior to Manager and eventually Partner. It also depends largely on the firm you work for. Salaries in public accounting can range from the ballpark $50K mentioned above to upwards of $5M+ for managing partners or "rain makers" as they are called (those that bring in tons of new business to the firm on a consistent basis over their careers as partners)of well-ran, successful firms.

If you want more granular detail for salaries by position in your area (or the area for firms you are considering), you can go to Payscale.com, Salary.com, Glass Door and other online sources to do more research.