Boost Your Pay in the Year to Come With a Staff Accountant Salary

By Robert Half October 3, 2017 at 4:45pm

If you have a four-year accounting degree and just a year of experience, you’re in a great position to land a staff accountant salary. Why take a staff accountant job? Today's high-growth public accounting firms and corporations are competing to attract talent with general accounting skills.

Experience as a staff accountant can lead to a rewarding career with an accompanying escalation in salary. With the boomer generation increasingly moving toward retirement, companies are investing more in career development and mentoring, taking on less-experienced candidates who can be groomed for more responsible roles in the future.

Take a look at a typical job description for a staff accountant and check out the job openings.

What is the staff accountant salary?

Companies are hiring accountants at all levels, according to the 2020 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance Professionals, and the role of staff accountant is singled out as one of the in-demand positions

As for earning power, the salary midpoint (or median national salary) for a general or staff accountant with up to a year of experience is $48,500. That increases to $64,250 in starting salary for someone with one to three years of experience.

If you move up to a senior accountant position, you can expect a starting salary $80,500 at the midpoint level. For a management position, the midpoint starting salary is $95,250.

How is midpoint defined by the Salary Guide? When a manager establishes a starting salary, multiple factors come into play — candidate experience level, skills and expertise, and job complexity and duties. At the midpoint, candidates have average experience with the necessary skills to meet the job requirements, and the role may be in different industries where competition for talent is moderate.

Aside from company size and industry, an important factor that can influence your accountant starting salary is your location. Your staff accountant salary in a major metropolitan area like San Francisco or New York, for instance, will be higher than in other regions in the U.S.

Visit the Salary Center, where you'll be able to adjust salaries for staff accountant jobs in your city with the Salary Calculator.

The job of a staff accountant

Staff accountants do everything from maintaining general ledgers to meeting with clients to discuss real estate tax liabilities. Typical tasks handled by staff accountants include:

  • Accounts payable and receivable
  • General bookkeeping, journal entries and general month-end accounting duties
  • Financial reporting
  • Budget preparation and analysis
  • Tax preparation
  • Client representation in an accounting firm environment

The work of staff accountants during any given day or week encompasses many different activities — financial, as well as administrative. Although the position’s duties vary from organization to organization, staff accountants usually report to the controller, director of finance or a CPA.

The skills you need to qualify

To get that staff accountant salary, you’ll first need a four-year bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance and one year of accounting experience. Aside from knowledge of basic accounting principles and math, candidates should demonstrate excellent soft skills, project management abilities, a collaborative personality and proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel and accounting software.

Because there’s so much variety in a staff accountant’s day, it’s to your advantage to be a master multitasker and a stickler for details. Employers also value someone with strong ethics, especially because staff accountants are entrusted with highly confidential company and personal data.

Whether it's a full-time job or a temporary role, a staff accountant job is a great steppingstone for recent grads who have a background in accounting, business, management and information technology. And once you're there, you'll have the potential for career growth in a stable and growing profession.

This post has been updated to reflect more current information.

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