Accounting Salaries, Job Opportunities Projected to Keep Growing

By Robert Half December 27, 2017 at 12:00pm

Revel in your good fortune, top job candidates and employees. Managers across industries are sweetening accounting salaries, according to the 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide. When they can, they’re also providing more scheduling flexibility to promote better work-life balance and make retention a priority.

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 as a result of accounting and finance professionals chasing higher accounting salaries and new opportunities.

As the Salary Guide points out, a good accountant is hard to find — now more than ever.

Here’s what to expect in the coming 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 the decade before 2022 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 hires for entry-level accounting jobs, and providing them with intensive skills training. All this is good news for job seekers like you.

The turnover revolution

But it’s not only acquiring new talent that’s occupying the attention of companies. A hallmark of the job outlook for the coming year 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. In an effort to make retaining top talent a priority, 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 2018 job market? Companies are hiring accountants at all levels, according to the Salary Guide. They’re also looking for financial analysts, payroll staff, controllers, internal and information technology (IT) auditors, and risk and compliance professionals. Hiring is especially strong in the healthcare, real estate, nonprofit, construction and technology sectors.

On the skills front, businesses are placing more emphasis on skills, including the following:

  • Technical proficiency, especially with cloud-based systems like NetSuite and Workday, and with information security, big data analysis and database management software, especially SQL
  • Expertise with risk, compliance and internal audit
  • General knowledge of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, especially SAP, Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics GP
  • In-depth knowledge of the regulatory environment
  • Advanced Excel expertise and, in small and midsize businesses, QuickBooks competence

In addition, today’s collaborative and global workplace requires candidates with superb communication skills, 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 hot positions in corporate accounting and their midpoint salary projections. At the midpoint, candidates have average experience with the necessary skills to meet the job requirements, and the role may be in an industry where competition for talent is moderate.

  • Accounting manager — $90,000
  • Controller — $115,000
  • Financial analyst — $50,000 (up to one year of experience), $65,000 (one to three years), $80,000 (senior), $100,000 (manager), $127,000 (director)
  • Internal auditor $45,000 (up to one year), $69,000 (one to three years), $85,000 (senior), $110,000 (manager), $175,000 (chief audit executive/vice president, internal audit/internal audit director)
  • Payroll manager/supervisor — $71,000
  • Senior accountant — $75,000
  • Staff accountant — $45,000 (up to one year), $60,000 (one to three years)

The salaries listed in the Salary Guide reflect starting pay only and are based on actual placements throughout the United States, as well as an analysis of the demand for the role, the supply of talent and other market conditions. Bonuses and benefits are not taken into account.

For these and many other positions, possessing a graduate degree or professional certification such as the CPA license, can put you at the higher end of the compensation tables.

The 2018 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.

Let us be your first resource as you seek a new job, salary increase or promotion.

Editor's note: This post was updated recently to reflect information from the 2018 Salary Guide.

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