Despite Increasing Salaries, the Number of Accountants May Not

by Eddie Tiernan
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Last year saw the fastest increase in salary provided to accountants and auditors in the United States, but experts in the field warn that this may not be enough to address the problem.

Thus, there are more accounting-related job openings and lengthier search times as fewer people are pursuing degrees and entering the workforce in this field. For a long time, those working in accounting and auditing felt their occupations were underappreciated, underpaid, and less exciting than those in technology, investment banking, and private equity.

Companies are increasingly relying on temporary staff and exporting work overseas in response to the growing shortage of accountants, in addition to increasing compensation and offering signing bonuses. In addition, businesses and trade associations are actively courting college students by increasing the responsibilities of entry-level and junior accountants and providing more flexible working arrangements.

But, accountants’ scholars and advisors say that this may be starting to change, as firms show signs of increasing their offers. This may be due to salary inflation as well as the profession’s efforts to attract and retain top talent. According to an analysis of job postings by Revelio Labs Inc., a provider of workplace data, the average beginning salary for an accountant or auditor in the United States increased by 13% to roughly $61,000 in 2022 from the previous year, compared to gains of 4% in 2021 and 2% in 2020. Beginning salaries increased by 21% from the same time last year to about $67,000 as of February.

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The salaries of all five tiers of employees, from entry-level to vice president, have increased. According to Revelio Labs, the average salary for these occupations increased by 12% to almost $87,000 in 2022 and by 9% to almost $90,000 this year through February. Staff accountant, accounting associate, and revenue auditor are examples of positions held by new hires, while vice presidents may have worked as audit managers, accounting managers, or finance directors, according to Revelio. Big Four auditors and accountants, as well as those working for Fortune 200 corporations in big cities, tend to be paid more than their peers.

She also noted that many companies had hiked salaries multiple times per year during the past year to two. While Ms. Coffey acknowledges that “should we be paying more? yeah, maybe,” she also notes that “firms are doing all various things,” such as offering sign-on bonuses.

According to Joseph Ugrin, the head of accounting at the University of Northern Iowa, graduates now have more options for entry-level positions in professional services, such as advising on mergers and acquisitions, than in years past. He reported that one master’s degree candidate in Colorado was given a starting salary of $99,000 by a Big Four firm.

A poll conducted in February by Handshake, a platform for professional networking and graduate recruitment, found that 80% of recent college graduates said a high starting pay made them more likely to apply for a position, compared to 85% for job stability and 81% for benefits.

According to the results, 82% or more of respondents regard $82,000 to be a high starting wage.

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