Accountant Salaries

  • Annual Wages
  • Top Cities
  • Top States
  • Top Industries

Job Description

Accountants conduct analysis of financial information and communicate related details. They help ensure that companies run efficiently, accurate public records are maintained, and taxes are paid correctly and on time.

Accountants may work for a company, the government, or for clients as a public accountant. In addition to financial document preparation, analysis, and verification, some accountants perform budget analysis, investment and financial planning, consulting regarding information technology, and offer limited legal services.

Accounting Skill Set:
  • Active Listening
  • Mathematics
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Writing
  • Critical Thinking
  • Speaking
  • Judgement & Decision Making
  • Complex Problem Solving
Required Abilities:
  • Mathematical Reasoning
  • Oral Comprehension
  • Written Comprehension
  • Number Facility
  • Deductive Reasoning
  • Near Vision
  • Oral Expression
  • Inductive Reasoning
  • Problem Sensitivity
Tools Used by Accountants:
  • Calculators
  • Fax Machines
  • Computers
  • Photocopies
  • Scanners

At a Glance: Salary Statistics


Accounting Salaries for Industries

Popular Industries   Salary
Accounting & Payroll Services   $75,060
Company Management   $70,150
Local Government   $60,380
State Government   $56,020
Management & Technical Consulting Services   $77,130
Typical Work Activities
  • Using Computers
  • Processing Information
  • Gathering Information
  • Evaulating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work

Accounting Salaries for Popular Cities and States

Popular Cities   Salary
New York Area, NY   $89,720
Los Angeles Area, CA   $74,290
Washington DC   $83,930
Chicago Area, IL   $74,760
Houston Area, TX   $74,300
Popular States   Salary
California   $74,910
New York   $85,070
Texas   $70,120
Florida   $65,440
Pennsylvania   $70,650

*Popular industries, cities and states are those with the highest employment levels in the accounting field as updated by May 2011.

Accountant Salaries by State:

Job Outlook for Accountants

2008 - 2018
Projected Employment Changes
  • 279,400 new accounting and auditor jobs
  • 22% increase in employment

Employment growth for accountants is expected to be 22% from 2008 to 2018, which is much faster than average, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In general, job opportunities will be favorable, with accountants who possess a professional certification, especially the CPA designation, having the best prospects.Those with a Bachelor's Degree will be in much higher demand than candidates without.


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Education & Training

Accountant Education Chart

Most accounting positions require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a closely related field. This was confirmed by a recent O*Net survey that found 79% of accountants surveyed had a bachelor’s degree, while only five percent had an associate’s degree. Some employers prefer that accountants have a master’s degree in accounting or in business administration with an accounting concentration. Nine percent of the O*Net survey respondents held a master’s degree.

In addition to accounting programs, some colleges and universities have begun offering programs regarding popular specialty professions like forensic accounting. Junior college or business school graduates may be able to find junior accounting positions. New accountants are often required to work with an experienced accountant before they are provided additional responsibility.

Any accountant who files a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) must be a Certified Public Accountant, or CPA. The state Board of Accountancy licenses CPAs who meet state requirements and pass a four-part national exam prepared by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Other certifications, like the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation from the Institute of Management Accountants, are available from various professional societies.

The majority of states require that CPA candidates have a college degree. As of 2009, the District of Columbia and 46 states required that CPA candidates have 150 semester-hours of college courses, which is 30 hours more than a traditional bachelor’s degree program. Some schools offer a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program lasting five years that meets the 150 semester-hour requirement. Nearly all states require individuals with a CPA designation complete continuing professional education in order to renew their licenses.

Related Occupations


Several occupations make use of the same skills that accountants use. Here is a short list of careers related to accounting:

  • Cost estimators forecast the size, duration, and costs of future projects.
  • Personal financial advisors help clients develop financial goals and assist them with investment and insurance decisions.
  • Budget analysts create, analyze, and execute budgets that represent corporate allocation of financial resources.



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