No doubt about it, senior accountants are in demand. In fact, they're listed as one of the hot positions in Robert Half's Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance. As employers seek to upgrade and expand their operations and add to core managerial accounting roles, they're looking to hire senior accountants, either from within their organizations or outside.
Companies are hiring accountants at all levels, particularly staff and senior accountants with strong general accounting abilities, proficiency with Excel and excellent nontechnical skills, such as communication and organizational skills. As demand goes up, pay levels for senior accountants are also going up.
Salaries for senior accountants
The starting salary for a senior accountant at a smaller firm is projected to be between $63,250 and $76,250.
At larger firms, a senior accountant is likely to start between $75,000 and $95,750, a 4.0 percent increase from the year before.
The projected salaries for each position reflects starting pay, with bonuses, incentives and other forms of compensation not taken into account. The ranges represent national averages.
Duties and expectations
Senior accountants handle a number of responsibilities, including the following:
- Reconciling sub-ledger to general ledger account balances
- Preparing financial statements
- Assessing internal controls, including risk assessments and reviews of risk areas
- Assisting with budget preparation and preparing the monthly budget variance analyses
- Maintaining and reconciling fixed assets schedules
- Assisting with initial internal control evaluations
- Supervising accounting staff
Professional experience and skills
Candidates for senior accountant positions typically should have at least three years’ experience, along with a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance. The CPA is still the most sought-after credential, while the certified management accountant (CMA) and master’s degree in business administration (MBA) are also frequently preferred.
Demand is high for professionals with excellent verbal and written communication skills as professionals are collaborating more frequently across the business. Firms are also looking for staff with strong business acumen and the ability to apply a broader view of the organization.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2014 and was updated recently to reflect the new Salary Guide data.