What Are This Year's Top Accounting and Finance Jobs?

By Robert Half February 20, 2017 at 5:30pm

For professionals working in accounting and finance jobs, it’s no secret you’re good with numbers. And your skills have paid off, because the numbers are now being good to you. 

The latest Salary Guide from Robert Half indicates there's a strong demand for skilled talent in today’s market for top accounting and finance jobs, with salaries continuing to increase. If you're a job seeker, that should be music to your ears, and if you're a manager trying to hire in this thriving market, it means your job will be more challenging.

What are the hot accounting and finance jobs, and why are they growing in importance? Here's a look at some of the top positions and what’s driving the demand for these roles:

Financial analysts

Two of the top accounting and finance jobs that offer excellent opportunities are financial analyst and senior financial analyst. The demand for skilled candidates to fill these positions is being driven by companies’ greater reliance on analytics. Firms are now looking for ways to use big data to manage resources and increase revenue more efficiently. They need finance employees who can prepare and analyze that data and make the numbers meaningful to management.

Additionally, the number of analytics tools continues to increase, and their quality keeps improving. As companies upgrade these tools and their enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs), they need to hire more expert assistance to get the best results.

A financial analyst with one to three years of experience can expect a starting salary in the range of $61,250 to $78,500 in 2017 at a midsize company, according to the Salary Guide, which is a 4.3 percent increase from 2016.

At a smaller company, the same qualifications will help a financial analyst earn a starting salary between $54,250 and $70,250 in 2017. The projected starting salary for a financial analyst with that experience at a large company is between $64,500 and $85,750, also a 4.3 percent increase from the year before.

Internal and external auditors

Internal and external auditors are also in great demand, and the supply of candidates for these accounting and finance jobs often isn’t meeting employers’ needs. As a result, external auditing firms snatch up top candidates as soon as they graduate. And because fewer people are completing accounting degrees today, the talent pool is dwindling further.

As financial services firms encounter more regulations, internal auditor careers offer growing opportunities. Many banks and insurance companies are hiring auditors, in some cases from other organizations. This approach takes even more professionals from the supply chain.

According to the Salary Guide, the average starting salary for an internal auditor at midsize and large companies in 2017 ranges from $55,250 to $68,750, a 3.9 percent increase from 2016. The room for growth in this sector is large, with chief audit executives earning an average of $123,250 to $289,500 annually. 

Senior and staff accountants

We’re also seeing a great demand for senior and staff accountants. There are a few factors fueling the need for these professionals. The first is that the unemployment rate for college-educated finance pros is lower than the average to begin with. Additionally, it now takes five years of college to earn an accounting degree plus your CPA designation. This can be daunting to students and dissuade them from going into accounting.

At the same time, many finance professionals are retiring, so there are more people leaving the field than there are entering. The combination of these three factors results in a dearth in senior and staff accounting candidates, as not only are there fewer individuals on the market, but fewer are entering the field as well.

Salaries for senior accountants will range from $63,250 to $76,250 at small businesses and $75,000 to $95,750 at large companies in 2017, according to the Salary Guide.

Accounting operations

Accounting operations — accounts payable, accounts receivable, bookkeeping, payroll, credit and collections — positions, which require two-year degrees, are also among the top jobs available. Here again, the law of supply and demand is in effect. The number of available candidates is simply smaller than the number of employees retiring.

And the salaries for all these positions are going up by more than 3.3 percent in the next year, according to the Salary Guide.

Top accounting and finance jobs

Naturally, top jobs will differ by location, as will the starting salaries being offered. Whether you are a job seeker or a hiring manager, you probably want to know: What accounting and finance jobs are hot in your city, and what's the going rate in your area?

Visit the Salary Center, where you'll be able to get your own copy of the Salary Guide — and adjust salaries for top accounting and finance jobs in your city.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2015 but was recently updated to reflect new Salary Guide data.

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