If you’re looking for the highest-paying finance jobs, you’ll find them in the C-suite, starting at the top with the chief financial officer. If that or another leadership position is your ultimate goal, you should also be interested in jobs that are stepping-stones to those senior roles.
Fortunately, strong candidates for these prerequisite positions are in high demand in nearly every industry.
According to the 2020 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance Professionals, employers are more willing to hire less-experienced people with high potential for climbing the corporate ladder all the way up to the highest-paying finance jobs. Companies are increasing on-the-job training to support these employees’ ambitions — and promoting from within to retain talented finance professionals who possess specialized expertise.
Here’s a look at just some of the highest-paying finance jobs that have the potential to lead to executive-level positions in their respective areas.
If you’re striving to become a chief compliance officer, you might get your start in a compliance analyst role, working with compliance processes and procedures, researching regulatory requirements, and preparing reports for companies.
Compliance analysts typically have at least three to five years of experience in compliance, auditing or risk management, and a bachelor’s degree in business, finance or accounting. The projected starting salary midpoint for compliance analysts is projected to be $79,750 in 2020, according to the Salary Guide. (Earning the midpoint salary, or median national salary, requires average experience and the skills to meet the necessities of a job in an industry and location where competition for talent is moderate.)
See our open compliance analyst jobs.
Midpoint salaries increase with other compliance roles as analysts climb the management ladder:
- Senior compliance analyst: $90,250
- Compliance officer: $106,250
- Compliance director: $143,000
- Chief compliance officer: $175,250
Information technology auditor
IT auditor jobs involve work on a variety of projects, from analyzing information security systems, programs and software to making sure these systems are in compliance with government and internal regulations — and identifying solutions for improvement. The salary midpoint for an IT auditor with one to three years of experience is $78,750, and for newcomers with less than a year of experience, $53,250.
See our open IT auditor jobs.
IT auditors have opportunities to step up to roles like these, which have higher starting salaries:
- Senior IT auditor: $95,500
- IT auditor manager: $122,250
These fiscal watchdogs perform internal audit procedures and prepare reports for businesses, applying knowledge of internal control concepts and planning, performing, managing and reporting on the evaluation of various business processes and functions. Knowledge of internal controls, internal auditing standards, GAAP, Sarbanes-Oxley, the COSO framework, and risk-assessment practices is required, typically with an undergraduate degree in accounting or finance.
With ever-changing regulation and compliance laws, internal auditors are in demand. The midpoint starting salary for those with one to three years of experience is $73,500, moving up from $48,000 for professionals who have put in up to a year on the job.
See our open internal auditor jobs.
Other jobs within internal auditing have even higher pay ranges as professionals climb to the executive level:
- Senior internal auditor: $90,250
- Internal auditor manager: $116,500
- Chief audit executive: $185,250
Financial analysts must have a thorough knowledge of general accounting procedures, reporting and expense analysis, and journal posting. They perform budgeting variance and forecasting analysis for various levels of management and need the ability to communicate across all levels of the organization.
This is a hot position, with the salary midpoint at $69,250 for a financial analyst with one to three years of experience, and $53,250 for those with up to a year of experience.
See our open financial analyst jobs.
As financial analysts progress in corporate accounting, they can expect to earn higher salaries in more senior roles:
- Senior financial analyst: $85,500
- Financial analyst manager: $106,000
- Financial analyst director: $134,500
Financial systems administrator
A financial systems administrator is responsible for the administration of a company’s finance systems, including security, installation, configuration, operation and maintenance. In this position, you can expect a salary midpoint of $69,000.
See our open financial systems administrator jobs.
Higher-ranking financial systems positions, including the director role, have higher salaries, as projected by the Salary Guide:
- Financial systems project manager: $116,500
- Financial systems manager: $131,750
- Financial systems director: $157,750
A general accountant — projected to start at a midpoint salary of $64,250 with one to three years of experience — typically prepares journal entries, helps with field work for financial and operational audits, researches and corrects account discrepancies, and reconciles and balances general ledger accounts.
See our open general accountant jobs.
General accountants can expect higher salaries as their experience grows and as they take on increasing responsibility. An entry-level candidate with a year or less on the job can earn a midpoint salary of $48,500, with opportunities to double and triple that amount in the corporate accounting ranks.
- Senior accountant: $80,500
- Accounting manager: $95,250
- Director of accounting: $146,750
Paving a path to the highest-paying finance jobs
The bottom line: If your goal is to reach the highest-paying finance jobs, the opportunities for advancement in accounting and finance are solid, regardless of the path you choose — from private or public accounting to financial services.
These are just some of the roles leading to the highest-paying finance jobs featured in the 2020 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance Professionals. Download the Salary Guide now to see starting salary ranges for more than 190 positions.