The demand for accounting services professionals is growing exponentially as the economy improves and as more small and mid-sized businesses open and attempt to navigate complex and myriad government regulations.
Subtract from the talent pool the growing number of retiring baby boomers, and you have a field ripe with opportunity.
According to Robert Half's Salary Guide, the following seven accounting and auditing positions in particular are showing growth (this post shows 2015 data):
1. Accounts receivable/payable
The role of processing outbound invoices and incoming payments is pivotal to any business operation. In corporate accounting, an accounts receivable/accounts payable (AR/AP) manager in a mid-sized company can expect a starting salary of between $48,500 and $67,500, while AR/AP clerks typically begin in the $34,750 to $44,000 range — both an increase of 3.3 percent over 2014.
Many businesses are seeking out the expertise of controllers who have the knowledge, experience and skill to take a wider view of strategic decisions and their monetary consequences and offer prudent guidance. Controllers at large companies can expect salaries ranging from $153,000 to $209,000, up 4.2 percent from 2014, while their counterparts at small companies are likely to start in the range of $79,250 to $106,000, up 3.5 percent year-over year. Corporate controllers can earn more, while divisional controllers typically earn a bit less. Controllers at large financial services firms are poised to earn between $151,500 and $193,000 a year, up 3.6 percent from 2014, while salaries for their colleagues at small firms range from $92,000 to $123,500, up 3.5 percent.
3. Cost accountants
One factor fueling the growing demand for professional accounting services is the need for cost accountants in healthcare mergers, as nonprofit and for-profit hospital operators continue to consolidate. Cost accountant salaries begin at $44,750 for entry-level workers at mid-sized companies — up 3.6 percent from 2014 — and catapult to $116,500 for managers at large companies, up 3.8 percent.
4. Internal auditors
Evolving government regulations are driving the need for qualified internal auditors. Companies in highly regulated industries, such as financial services, energy and healthcare, require accounting expertise from auditors with industry-specific experience. Entry-level internal auditors can expect a starting salary ranging from $49,500 to $64,250, up 3.9 percent from 2014, while managers can expect to fetch between $87,500 and $144,250, up 4.2 percent. Certifications sweeten the pot. One in-demand certification is the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA).
5. Payroll professionals
Every business needs either a payroll expert or crack payroll team, depending on its size. A payroll manager plans and executes payroll policies and ensures that the business complies with federal and state regulations, and also recruits, trains and supervises payroll staff. Starting salaries for payroll managers/supervisors at a large company range from $58,000 to $91,500, up 3.8 percent from 2014, whereas their counterpart at a small company will begin at $41,250 to $58,750, up 3.6 percent. You can elevate your marketability, and possibly bump up your starting pay, with a Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) certification.
6. Senior accountants
Many public accounting firms ceased hiring senior accountants during the recent recession. Some of these firms are now scrambling to fill those vacancies. They are especially coveting accountants with three or more years of experience. Starting salaries for senior general accountants range from a low of $57,500 at small firms to a high of $87,750 at large firms, up 3.9 percent to 4 percent from 2014.
7. Staff accountants
Staff accountant positions cover a wide range of responsibilities and services that support the CFO and senior accountant in both the finance and accounting divisions. It is incumbent upon hiring managers to develop an accurate accounting job description encompassing expected salaries, required prior experience and future responsibilities, in order to attract the most capable accounting services professionals.
Visit our Salary Center for data from the 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide for all of these positions.