2009 Salary Guide shows accounting, finance salaries remain strong

Even in the current economy, certain skill sets remain difficult to find, according to the 2009 Salary Guides from Robert Half International. The recently released guides point to modest overall salary increases for accounting, information technology (IT), and administrative roles, but highlight specialized expertise that can enhance a professional's marketability. This includes account reconciliation and credit/collections experience for accountants and web development skills for IT professionals.

"Companies highly value employees who can identify cost efficiencies, develop long-range business strategies, and maximize the use of technology," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. "Adding to the competition for those with specialized skills is a growing reluctance on the part of many professionals to leave secure employment situations in an unpredictable economy. This has made it a challenge for hiring managers to attract these workers."

2009 Hiring Outlook: Accounting and Finance

Overall, the 2009 research forecasts a salary increase of 3.4 percent for finance and accounting staff. Companies are showing the most interest in professionals who can help their firms reduce inefficiencies and enhance profitability. Those who are familiar with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) also are marketable.

Following are three in-demand finance and accounting positions:

  • Staff and senior accountants – Companies are hiring accountants to oversee core duties such as maintaining the general ledger, performing account analysis and reconciliation, correcting journal entries, and performing the monthly close. Demand is strong for CPAs with at least three years of experience. Starting salaries for staff accountants at large companies (more than $250 million in sales) who have one to three years of experience, for example, are projected to range from $44,500 to $57,250.
  • Public accountants – Public accounting firms continue to look for highly skilled professionals to help clients address fundamental accounting, tax and audit issues. Firms seek experienced accountants who can help offset an anticipated acceleration in baby boomer retirements in coming years. Starting salaries for senior accountants in tax services at small public accounting firms (less than $25 million in sales) are forecast to range from $54,000 to $69,250.
  • Credit and collections specialists – The current credit crunch has made companies even more cognizant of the critical role of the credit and collections functions in managing credit risk and collecting from delinquent accounts. Organizations are hiring professionals who can help reduce inefficiencies and enhance profitability. Credit and collections clerks at midsize companies ($25 million to $250 million in sales) are expected to see starting salaries of $29,250 to $37,500.

2009 Hiring Outlook: Information Technology

IT unemployment remains low relative to many other occupations, driven by the proliferation of new technology and the need for professionals to support Web 2.0 initiatives to foster information sharing and enable access to applications stored on web servers. Overall, IT salaries are expected to increase by 3.7 percent next year. A smaller pool of highly skilled candidates for technology positions, coupled with fewer college graduates with IT-related degrees, is making it difficult for employers to hire and retain individuals within many specialties.

Following are three in-demand IT positions:

  • Web developers – The rise of social media and the expansion of companies' online presence, Web 2.0 initiatives and interactive web functionality have fueled further growth in Internet technologies, creating a strong demand for web developers. These professionals can expect to see starting salaries in the range of $60,000 to $89,750 in the coming year.
  • Programmer analysts – IT professionals with skills such as .NET, SharePoint, Java, and PHP are at a premium across companies in all industries, including healthcare, finance, and manufacturing. These workers are needed to write code, test, and debug software applications, and analyze business application requirements for functional areas across the organization. The salary range for a programmer analyst is expected to be $60,000 to $100,750.
  • Help desk professionals – Companies are implementing a wider range of technologies, migrating from older operating systems and, upgrading desktop systems. This is contributing to the demand for professionals who can troubleshoot software and hardware problems. Base compensation for Tier 2 help desk professionals, for example, is projected to range from $36,750 to $48,250.

2009 Hiring Outlook: Administrative and Office Support

Demand for highly skilled administra¬tive professionals remains steady, and starting salaries are expected to rise 2.6 percent in 2009. As the role of office support professionals continues to expand, businesses can be expected to offer moderately higher compensation for the most skilled individuals in certain positions. Applicants with industry experience, technical aptitude, multilingual abilities and professional certifications are highly sought.

Following are in-demand administrative positions:

  • Customer service representative – Businesses rely on these professionals to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction and loyalty, which are especially important in an uncertain economy. Firms also look to these individuals to sell additional products or services to existing customers. Customer service representatives are expected to see starting salaries ranging from $22,750 to $31,000 in the coming year.
  • Data entry specialist – IT projects have remained a part of corporate business plans because they are closely related to revenue generation. Companies need assistance with data entry during software conversions and upgrades. These specialists also assist with taking customer orders quickly and accurately. Starting salaries for data entry specialists are projected to range from $22,000 to $27,750 in 2009.
  • Administrative healthcare positions – The healthcare industry continues to grow, and medical facilities seek administrative professionals with healthcare experience. Positions in high demand include: medical file clerk/scanner, medical secretary, patient registration/admissions clerk, and credentialing specialist.

About the 2009 Salary Guides

The new salary guides include the 2009 Salary Guide from Robert Half International for accounting and finance positions, produced by Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Robert Half Management Resources; the Robert Half Technology 2009 Salary Guide for technology professionals; and the OfficeTeam 2009 Salary Guide for administrative positions.

Since 1950, Robert Half International has produced salary guides to offer business owners and hiring managers information on prevailing salaries in their geographic areas and insight into the latest employment trends. Companies consult the annual guides to determine appropriate compensation for all levels of accounting and finance, technology, and administrative professionals. In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics references the guide when preparing its comprehensive Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Information in the guides is based on the thousands of job searches, negotiations and placements managed each year by Robert Half's staffing and recruiting managers, along with the company's ongoing surveys of chief financial officers, chief information officers and other senior executives. Continuing or ongoing salaries are not reported because many external factors -- such as seniority, work ethic, job performance and training -- impact the salaries of full-time professionals as work histories develop.

You can request a free copy of the 2009 Salary Guide.

You may like these other stories...

Event Date: August 21, 2014, 2 pm ETMeet budgets and client expectations using project management skills geared toward the unique challenges faced by CPAs.  Kristen Rampe will share how knowing the keys to structuring...
Event Date: August 20, 2014, 2:30 pm ETIn this session we'll review best practices for how to generate interest in your firm’s services. Topics include:Web Based Marketing StrategiesAppointment SettingNetworking...
Recently, there has been a lot of buzz about the future of continuing professional education (CPE). The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) created a task force on the Future of Learning with an accompanying fancy website. In...

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Jul 31
In this session Excel expert David Ringstrom helps beginners get up to speed in Microsoft Excel. However, even experienced Excel users will learn some new tricks, particularly when David discusses under-utilized aspects of Excel.
Aug 5
This webcast will focus on accounting and disclosure policies for various types of consolidations and business combinations.
Aug 20
In this session we'll review best practices for how to generate interest in your firm’s services.
Aug 21
Meet budgets and client expectations using project management skills geared toward the unique challenges faced by CPAs. Kristen Rampe will share how knowing the keys to structuring and executing a successful project can make the difference between success and repeated failures.