Building Your Career as a Staff Accountant: Salary, Qualifications and Advancement Potential

By Robert Half February 27, 2020 at 8:00am

Becoming a staff accountant offers you the potential for salary growth and career advancement. If you have a four-year accounting degree and a year of experience, you’re in a great position to land a staff accountant position.

Companies today are competing to attract skilled accounting and finance professionals at all levels in light of new regulations, business growth and system implementations. But according to the 2020 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance Professionals, the role of staff accountant is singled out as one of the most in-demand positions.

As a result, compensation is rising for the position. Also, companies are more concerned about retention than ever before, investing time and money to help employees continue their professional development. That paves the way for you to advance in the role — and beyond.

And then, there’s this: Businesses are often taking a chance on less-experienced candidates because the labor market is tight. If a hiring manager finds someone with almost all of the desired criteria, they are often willing to train them to bring them up to speed after hiring.

What is an average staff accountant salary?

The median staff accountant salary, for someone with up to one year of experience, is $48,500. The salary range starts at $39,750 for someone with less experience or working at a smaller company, and it tops out at $72,000 for a highly skilled candidate at a large organization. For a professional with one to three years of experience, the staff accountant salary starts at $50,750, the midpoint is $64,250, and the top of the scale is $100,500.

Aside from company size and industry, location has a big influence on your accountant starting salary. The average staff accountant salary in major metropolitan areas such as San Francisco or New York, for instance, will be higher than in smaller cities.

Staff accountant qualifications

To get that sweet staff accountant salary, you’ll need a four-year bachelor’s degree in accounting, business or finance and one year of work experience. Strong computer skills are a must for staff accountants, particularly Microsoft Excel. Aside from knowledge of accounting principles and math, soft skills will make you stand out, such as time management abilities, a collaborative attitude and good communication skills.

Because there’s so much variety in a staff accountant’s day, the ideal candidate is a master multitasker and a stickler for details and deadlines. Although the duties will vary from organization to organization, staff accountants usually report to the controller, director of finance or a CPA.

Advancing your accounting career

With more education, certifications and experience, a staff accountant can become a senior accountant. Advanced roles can involve supervising accounting staff and making risk assessments and reviews. Senior accountants can then advance to positions such as accounting manager, controller or CFO.

The senior staff accountant salary midpoint is $80,500, according to our Salary Guide, with the low end at $66,000 and the high end at $120,750. Meanwhile, an accounting manager’s midpoint starting salary is $95,250, with the low end of the salary range at $79,000 and the high end at $147,000.

Taking on a staff accountant position is an initial step for forging your career in a stable and growing field. Knowing salary trends will help you negotiate your job offer, but you should also check salary averages regularly to ensure your staff accountant salary is up to par.

Availability Status

Let us know you're ready to work with one click.

Update My Status

Set Your Status

Click the blue button on your profile page at least once a week to keep your status set to Available.

Set Your Status

Your status will automatically change to Idle and Unknown over time, so update it weekly while you’re looking for work

Update My Status

More From the Blog...