Revel in the serendipity, CPAs. Accounting salaries for skilled professionals are expected to expand at 3.7 percent in the coming year, as firms of all sizes and industries increase pay and bonuses to stay competitive, according to Robert Half's latest Salary Guide.
What’s influencing this trend? It’s a combination of factors, including the growing bubble of retiring baby boomers, a dearth of highly skilled workers, rising regulatory requirements and an increasingly transient workforce resulting from accounting and finance professionals chasing higher accounting salaries and new opportunities.
Here’s what to expect in the upcoming year:
Graying of the job market
Public and private employers are seeking to replace retiring baby boomers, and this job market trend is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. A U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report projects that 3.9 million more employees will leave the U.S. workforce in 2012–22 than during the previous decade.
For companies, this exodus of boomers will mean a significant loss of institutional knowledge. And it comes at a time of intense competition for new skilled talent for accounting and finance roles. As a result, employers are turning to creative ways to recruit the best and brightest, including entry-level hires, and providing them with intensive skills training. All this is good news for job seekers.
The turnover revolution
But it’s not only acquiring new talent that’s occupying the attention of companies. A hallmark of 2017’s job outlook is high turnover in finance jobs. Accounting and finance professionals are confident about their prospects on the job market, prompting firms to strive to keep their best workers. To retain top talent, employers are offering higher accounting salaries and negotiating employee perks such as telecommuting and flexible work schedules.
In-demand skills toolbox
Looking for an edge in the 2017 job market? Employers are seeking accounting professionals who can also keep pace with technological changes and fulfill compliance requirements. In-demand skills include the following:
- Technical proficiency, especially in cloud computing, information security and data mining
- Expertise with risk, compliance and internal audit
- In-depth knowledge of the regulatory environment
In addition, today’s collaborative and global workplace requires candidates with superb communication skills, technical knowledge, project management abilities, team spirit and multilingual capabilities.
The view from the top
The year’s in-demand job categories include general accounting, analysis and compliance. Hiring trends show that the fastest-growing accounting salaries appear at all company sizes and for workers with varying years of experience.
The following is a sampling of the year's best of the best by title, organization size, starting salary ranges and percent increases from the previous year.
Corporate accounting, small company (less than $25 million revenue)
$73,000 to $97,000 (up 3.8 percent)
Business analyst, manager
Corporate accounting, midsize company ($25 million-$250 million in revenue)
$98,250 to $133,500 (up 3.9 percent)
Financial services, large firm
$94,500 to $124,250 (up 4.2 percent)
$60,250 to $87,000 (up 4.1 percent)
Corporate accounting, small company
$63,250 to $76,250 (up 4.1 percent)
Staff accountant, 3 to 5 years’ experience
$64,750 to $79,750 (up 4.0 percent)
For these and many other positions, possessing a graduate degree or professional certification, such as the CPA license, will net you 5 to 15 percent more in base accounting salaries.
The 2017 hiring trends are clear: Finance specialists are in demand, and accounting salaries are climbing upward as employers pursue top talent and strive to retain their most prized staff members.
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Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2015 but was recently updated to reflect new Salary Guide data.