Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Salary
A CPA career is one of the most well paid in the United States. The CPA profession is also predicted to continue to grow and is a great opportunity for someone entering the job market. However, becoming a CPA is no easy task. CPAs must, in most jurisdictions, have at least 150 hours of education, pass the CPA Exam and continue their education after initial licensure by completing CPE. The benefits of being a CPA are very impressive and can continue to grow with experience and ongoing education.
The overall average salary for college graduates in 2011 was $41,701, but those graduating with a degree in accounting averaged $50,500 according to the 2012 National Association of Colleges and Employers survey. Those who go on to earn their CPA license can expect a median salary of $73,800, with top salaries around $124,000.
Your starting CPA salary of course, will vary based on your education and experience. If you have your CPA license you will most likely be paid a premium, whether you’re at a public accounting firm or working as a management accountant or consultant. If you only have a college degree in accounting, you will not be paid as much. Additionally, your salary is affected by geographic location. Salaries are higher in metropolitan areas, as is the cost of living. Your salary may also be affected by how many years of experience you have in the field, specialty credentials, specific area of practice and type of business.
You can help your cause by making sure you know the value you bring the table when negotiating your salary. Believe it or not, personality can be a very important factor. You can have the best background and all the skills, but if you don’t fit within the company culture, you’re unlikely to get the job. If you want a salary increase from your starting CPA salary, it is important that you prove how you’re a “company person” and work well both on your own and within a team. Above all, don’t sell yourself short. You bring a specific personality, quality and respect to the position, so ensure you’re demonstrating that. This can be the difference between maxing out your salary and only receiving the bare minimum.
The employment market for CPAs isn’t bad either. CPAs in 2011 had a 3.5% unemployment rate, much lower than the national average at the time of 9.1%. In fact, public accounting firms cite hiring new staff one of their major concerns for 2012. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has determined a 10-year growth rate for the CPA profession at 22%, much higher than the average for all other careers.