What's Up for Senior Accountants? Salaries, for Starters

Hand with a pen during salary negotiation

No doubt about it, senior accountants are in demand. In fact, they're listed as one of the hot positions in Robert Half's latest 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 

2017 Salary Guide coverResearch from the Salary Guide shows senior accountants at a midsize firm can expect a starting salary between $66,500 and $87,500 in 2017, which is 4.1 percent more than the previous year.

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.

Visit the Salary Center, where you'll be able to adjust salaries for senior accountants in your city with the Salary Calculator, and download your own copy of the Salary Guide.

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.

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Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2014 and was updated recently to reflect the new Salary Guide data.

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