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Is a career in accounting able to maintain an expensive lifestyle? Does this depend on position?

I'd like to maintain a fairly lavish lifestyle but im not picky with what that might mean. I'd just like to be paid an above average salary. financial-accounting accounting accountant finance career

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Doloris’s Answer

An expensive lifestyle is a relative term so people could interpret this in vastly different ways. In addition, your lifestyle is also impacted by any financial obligations you take on during your schooling such as loans, that require repayment. In order to start a career that could be successful with potential growth I highly suggest taking advantage of business/accounting related clubs, internships and seeking education specifically in accounting. I also suggest researching what path's within accounting (CPA, forensic accounting, auditing) have the most favorable long term growth. In addition, I would expect you will need a master's degree immediately after undergrad in order to remain competitive and start your career at a higher pay.

Good luck!
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Rebecca’s Answer

What's the reason you are looking for an expensive lifestyle and how do you define what an expensive lifestyle is?
In fact, different jobs have different salary depending on many factors, e.g. knowledge & skills, years of experience, etc. However, sometimes you can make more money on the job for the time being, it may not give you a good career path. Also, if the job you have no interest, it is really a pain to spend so many hours every day.
Have you ever thought about to run your own business? , i.e. to be entrepreneur. If you really have brilliant ideas and new to the market, you can start your own business.
I would suggest you can think about what subjects that you have interest or have strength on. You can get good grades in the college and enter an prestige enterprise. It is a good start of your career. If you work hard, you can move to senior roles so that your salary will increase.
Hope this helps! Good Luck!

This is good information but does not directly answer the question. Gurpreet Lally, CareerVillage.org Team

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Michael’s Answer

In most cases, a career in accounting will not translate into living like a "kardashian" (if that is your definition of lavish); however, it does provide the OPPORTUNITY to be very successful and live a very good lifestyle. Positions that offer the highest compensation would include Chief Financial Officers, Partners in accounting firms, owning your own accounting practice, and controllership positions to name a few (although there are many other well paying positions in the accounting field). Individuals who have obtained successful positions in accounting have typically achieved such success through hard work, being technically proficient in their area of expertise, having very good communication skills and interacting well with co-workers and clients. Success if never given but earned through hard work and the desire to learn over a period of time.

My advice is for anyone who wants to achieve long-term financial success in the accounting field (or any field for that matter) is to focus on the short-term role/position that will lead to the long-term role that you want. When focusing in short-term roles, short-term money should not be the driving factor but rather focus on building a resume that will allow you to achieve your end goals.
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Jeremy’s Answer

In addition to the comments above, I would also say your starting salary for accounting can depend on the education level you obtain. For example, an Associates degree in accounting can likely get you a job as an accounting clerk. You can work your way up from there, but the salary as a clerk is not as high as someone who may have gotten a Bachelors or Masters in Accounting.

One of the comments touched on this as well, but there are multiple areas of accounting you can go into. This is not always the case, but accounting roles that are more "advisory" or "consulting" in nature have a higher starting salary than someone who goes into audit or corporate accounting. I would say money should not be the ultimate reason you pick between advisory, consulting, audit, or any other type of accounting since this will affect your future career options and job satisfaction. For example, consulting could have a higher pay, but you may not enjoy it as much as tax or audit.

Having an accounting background can increase your salary potential later on in your career, but I would also suggest doing your own research and asking yourself if you are interested in the field. There are many careers outside of accounting that can have high salaries, but make sure accounting can satisfy your professional goals.
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David’s Answer

Now that's an honest question!

You may be surprised what "average" salary is, and it depends on who you're comparing against--the whole USA? College degree? HS diploma? Median household income countrywide is around $75k, and that may include multiple earners in the household, so the individual pay is even lower. That number is also across all education levels and blue/white-collar jobs. In general, a college degree gives you an immediate leg up in terms of pay, however there are good-paying jobs without a degree as well; I recently read that electricians can earn a pretty good living, and that's without a college degree.

If pay is your top criteria, do a search on top-paying jobs and work your way down that list based on your interests and abilities. Various types of doctors may be on top, but that may not be your area of interest or strength. At the moment, data science and other computer science-related jobs are booming and paying very well.

Best of luck!

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Christina’s Answer

As with many career options, the answer is “maybe, it depends … .“ The position does matter but also so does your ability to communicate well, learn quickly, and willingness to work hard. Accounting can mean a lot of different things, bookkeeping, auditing, tax preparation, financial analysis, financial statement preparation, and lots of other roles. It can also be a great background for other types for work like consulting, strategic planning, M&A work, and leadership roles like a Controller or CFO.

There are a lot of accountants so if you want to thrive professionally, and financially, in accounting then getting your CPA and keeping it active is important! This is an industry wide acknowledgement that you have a body of knowledge that is valuable to accounting and that you worked hard to get the certification. Being a CPA will directly improve your salary opportunities.

Additionally, I would recommend finding something about accounting that you are interested in and getting your first role doing something that lets you enjoy the work. It’s so much easier to work hard when you like what you do! While in that role, these are a few things you can do to help you be a good candidate for promotion:
1. Get all your work done on time – all of it, all the time.
2. Pay attention to detail, accounting is often very detail oriented so the details matter.
3. If you have a challenge that is keeping you from getting something done and you cannot find a solution yourself, ask for help or direction early. Do not wait until you task is due to ask for help. It is important that you try to find solutions on your own first: use help files, search the internet, ask your peers.
4. When you ask for help or guidance – have some ideas to share of what might be a solution? Don’t just ask “What should I do?” Ask “Is this the right thing to do or should I be using this other solution?” The key here is to show that you can think of solutions and not just problems.
5. Volunteer for projects and take on challenging assignments and complete them. Show that you want to learn and grow in your career.
6. Listen to the questions people ask about your work and be prepared for them in the future. Learn to anticipate the questions your leaders will ask and understand why they are asking.

As your career progresses meet with mentors and sponsors to help your career develop in ways that you enjoy and to get you the salary you want. Best of luck!!

Christina recommends the following next steps:

Research specific jobs in the accounting field and find something you are interested in.
Look up the requirements for the CPA exam and plan your college curriculum accordingly.
Take advantage of internships while in college.
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Lindsey’s Answer

I came to also answer the question with "it depends." I think you have received great answers and advice above. As with any position, you can make a wide range of salary.
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Luis’s Answer

It truly depends on how expensive of a lifestyle you want to live, where you live and the actual job in accounting. For example, if you live in NYC and you're a bookkeeper, financial ops (Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, etc.) or a staff accountant, than you're not going to live a lavish lifestyle. But if you're a Staff Accountant say in Louisiana, that'll probably take you further :)

In general, Accounting backgrounds and careers pay well and better than the average American. The higher you go up the corporate ladder and years of experience or qualifications (CPA, CMA, CFA, etc.), than the higher pay you'll have allowing you live well off. Also depending the area of Accounting or Finance that you're in, for example Senior Internal Auditors and Senior Tax Analysts/Accountants earn more than a General Corporate Senior Accountant. Technical Accounting, Finance FP&A, Corporate Development all pay better than Corporate Accounting.

In an expensive cost of living state, I've placed a 5-year Senior Accountant at $80-95K while a 5-year Senior Financial Analyst in FP&A was $90-105K.
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Christopher’s Answer

If you want to live an expensive lifestyle, I would focus on building wealth long-term rather than focusing on your salary short-term. A career in accounting can absolutely provide you with insight as to how to manage your money and build wealth. A wealthy person will almost always be wealthy since they know how to grow money, whereas a rich person is only rich until their money is gone.

Hope that helps.

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Laurie’s Answer

Accounting is a good building block to starting your career and in turn begin your accumulation of wealth. As you gain more experience your salary will increase. With any profession if your goal is to build your wealth you will need to live within your means and spend according to your budget. Public accounting is generally the quickest path to eventually obtain a high paying job. Good luck.
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Keesa’s Answer

With any profession education, experience, location, and company determines your salary. As with any position you can make a great salary or you can make a low salary.

Good Luck!
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