Average starting salaries next year for accounting and finance professionals should remain consistent with 2003 levels, according to the just-released 2004 Salary Guide from Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Accountemps. Additionally, experienced accountants who can help businesses improve cash flow and address new reporting requirements will be in demand, research shows.
“While salary levels overall will likely remain stable, candidates with highly sought-after skill sets may see modest gains in compensation,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. “Companies faced with increasing workloads are recruiting financial professionals in areas such as internal audit, credit and collections, and general accounting.
“Employers are hiring selectively, focusing their recruiting efforts on professionals who can provide solid leadership and contribute immediately to critical business operations,” Messmer added.
Stable Salaries Forecast in Public Accounting
Average starting salaries for public accountants should remain little changed from 2003 levels. Managers at midsized public accounting firms ($25 to $250 million in annual sales) can expect base compensation of $57,000 to $74,250, a 1.4 percent increase over last year. Average starting salaries for senior accountants at large public accounting firms (more than $250 million in annual sales) are forecast to rise an average of 1.1 percent, to the range of $48,750 to $62,250 annually. Both directors and managers at large public accounting firms are expected to see base compensation increase 0.9 percent, with average starting salaries ranging between $77,750 to $119,000 and $63,000 to $82,250 per year, respectively.
Corporate Accounting Outlook
In the corporate sector, managers and senior accounting professionals will see the strongest salary growth in 2004. General and audit accounting managers at large companies can expect a 2.9 percent increase in starting salaries, with average base compensation of $60,250 to $81,500. Starting salaries for senior tax and cost accountants at large companies will rise 1.6 percent, to the range of $48,750 to $62,500; those at small companies will see a 1.9 percent increase, with base compensation between $41,750 and $52,000 per year. Credit and collections clerks at large companies will experience the biggest percentage increase in starting salaries of any single position in corporate accounting. Their base compensation is expected to rise an average of 5.1 percent, bringing starting salaries to between $29,250 and $37,500 per year. Credit managers/supervisors and assistant credit managers at large companies will also see notable gains, with average starting salary increases of 4.2 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively.
Other key findings in the 2004 Salary Guide:
- Loan administrators can expect the largest percentage increase in base compensation of any accounting and finance category. Average starting salaries are projected to rise 9.1 percent, to the range of $32,750 to $45,000 per year.
- Base compensation for credit analysts at large companies will increase an average of 3.3 percent, to between $34,500 and $44,500 annually.
- Accounts receivable/payable managers at companies with more than $250 million in annual sales can expect average starting salaries to rise 2.6 percent with base compensation ranging from $41,500 to $56,250.
- Senior financial, budget, treasury and cost analysts at companies with $25 to $250 million in annual sales will see average starting salaries of $47,750 to $61,000, a 1.2 percent increase over 2003.
- Entry-level general and audit accountants at companies with less than $25 million in annual sales will see a 2.3 percent decline in base compensation, with average starting salaries of between $28,500 and $34,500.
- Vice presidents of finance can anticipate a 12.3 percent decrease in average starting salaries at companies with $50 to $100 million in annual sales, to the range of $95,000 to $125,000 per year.
- Demand for accounting and finance professionals is expected to be strongest in the healthcare and real estate industries. However, hiring activity varies significantly by geographic region. (All salaries listed are national averages. A regional analysis of hiring trends and compensation variances is included in the 2004 Salary Guide.)
Information in the 2004 Salary Guide is based on the thousands of job searches, negotiations and placements conducted each year by Robert Half Finance & Accounting recruiting managers. Continuing or ongoing salaries are not reported because too many external factors -- such as seniority, work ethic, job performance and training -- impact the salaries of full-time professionals as work histories develop.