Annual Salary Survey Shows it Pays to Hold CPA Designation

Over 2,800 respondents working in the accounting, finance and banking professions around the country responded to this voluntary online survey conducted by


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The data revealed that workers with a professional credential of some type earned 30 percent more in 2004 than those working without any kind of credential. The average annual salary for CPAs participating in the survey increased just over 2 percent from 2003 to $73,295. CPA salaries were not broken down by career longevity, but three-quarters of all respondents had been working in their current position for less than five years.

Professionals with a credential of some kind (about half of the respondents) were earning $70,096 compared to those without any kind of credential who are earning only $53,748. Of credentialed respondents, more than 62 percent held the CPA designation.

"The spotlight on the CPA profession comes in part from the need for compliance under federal Sarbanes-Oxley legislation affecting corporate governance, financial disclosure and the practice of public accounting," says John Kearney, CPA, the Society's president. "The CPA in today's career world handles a wide scope of financial responsibilities including taxes, auditing, financial planning, estate planning and consulting making this designation extremely valuable in all areas of business."

Among the survey's other findings:

The average 2004 salary for those women respondents from the accounting, finance and banking professions (including CPAs) rose nearly $2,000 to $52,012 while the average salary for men in the same fields dropped $190 to $69,848.

Men are 25 percent more likely than women to hold a professional credential but women with a credential are earning 31 percent more ($60,942), than their female counterparts. Men with a credential are earning 23 percent more ($77,343), compared to those men without a credential.

  • Higher education showed its pluses with those with a Master's degree earning 22% more than 2004 ($71,850 versus $70,265).

  • Wages for most sectors stayed close to last year's average salaries or decreased, while government jobs paid 18 percent more than they did last year ($52,298 to $61,601).

  • Longevity is positive to higher salaries with those in positions more than five years earning 25% more ($69,791 to $75,858).

  • Thirty-eight percent (38%) of workers received a 3-5% annual raise.

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