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$53,300: The Average Starting Salary for New Accounting Grads

May 1st 2013
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Accounting students who will graduate in 2013 will be the beneficiaries of an average starting salary that has increased by 7 percent over last year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

The average starting salary for accounting graduates this year is $53,300, up from $49,700 in 2012, Andrea Koncz, employment information manager for the NACE, told AccountingWEB. In 2011, the average starting salary for accounting graduates was $50,500.

This year's data is featured in the April 2013 NACE Salary Survey, which details actual starting salaries for new college graduates as reported by employers. According to the survey, the overall average starting salary for 2013 college graduates is $44,928, up 5.3 percent over the average starting salary for the class of 2012, which was $42,666.

"I think the overall starting salary is right on track with where we expected it to be", Koncz says.

According to Koncz, survey results showed that the professional, scientific, and technical services industry and the finance and insurance sector are the top two employers within the accounting profession

Professional, scientific, and technical services comprise establishments that specialize in performing professional, scientific, and technical activities for others, such as accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll services, the NACE states. Finance and insurance includes establishments primarily engaged in and/or facilitating financial transactions.

"The average salary for professional, scientific, and technical services is $53,100, and the average is $53,300 for finance and insurance", Koncz says.

Business majors as a group saw their overall average salary rise 7.1 percent, from $50,633 in 2012 to $54,234 in 2013. That large increase was driven primarily by double-digit increases for three majors: finance, hospitality services management, and international business, the survey states. 

What major had the highest average starting salary? Engineering, which rose 4 percent from $60,151 in 2012 to $62,535 in 2013.

"Engineering majors are consistently among the highest paid because the demand for them is so great", NACE Executive Director Marilyn Mackes says in a press release.

While engineering students are the highest paid, students majoring in the health sciences saw the largest overall increase to their average starting salaries – up 9.4 percent to $49,713.

What Does It Really Mean?

The average starting salary for 2013 accounting graduates is $53,300. So what does this starting salary mean for an accounting student looking for a job? What does it mean for a firm looking to hire a young accountant out of college? 

Michael Casey, general manager of jobs for Going Concern, gives his perspective to AccountingWEB.

Accounting graduates who have decided they want to work at a CPA firm have four main audiences: the Big 4, nationals, regionals, and locals.

"A lot of the Big 4 candidates typically are recruited in, and the bigger firms will offer signing bonuses because they're looking for the top talent. Therefore, the people rolling in to the bigger firms right out of school can expect a package in the range of high $50,000s to low $60,000s, depending on the geographic area", he says. "The whole premise with the top firms is they're looking for longevity. Ideally, they'd like to keep some of these candidates in-house for three to five years.

"The local firms typically don't give signing bonuses or things of that nature", Casey continues. "But if you're looking at people rolling into these two-person or ten-person firms, who have probably applied themselves and have not graduated from a brand-name school, they can expect a salary of somewhere in the mid-$40,000 range. The local firms typically don't look for longevity. They realize there will always be that inventory locally that they can always reach into."

Casey says he has found that business has increased for most CPA firms by 7 to 10 percent for 2013 through 2014, which he adds is a by-product of a healthier economy.

"Accounting services is a by-product of that, as well. The year-over-year demand for qualified candidates has gone up", he concludes. "So what is this telling you? Guess what – there are no surprises in the accounting industry."

About the survey:

The April 2013 NACE Salary Survey reports starting salaries for new college graduates in more than ninety disciplines at the bachelor's degree level. Data contained in the report are reported by employers; represent accepted starting salaries (not salary offers); and are produced through a compilation of data derived from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US Census Bureau, and a master set of data developed by Job Search Intelligence. Data for the April 2013 report were retrieved in March 2013 and represent the first look at starting salaries for the college class of 2013.

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Replies (42)

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By Nchang
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I guess I am on the right Track

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By Loler
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Right, and here I am with a $37k job.

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Replying to janib ali:
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By William
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Hey, Im in good company...dont feel quite as bad now...though I should still. Since I make less than $37k, and have an MBA.

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Replying to Toxik:
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By Guest
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Who says I didn't have a Master's degree in something other than Arts? ;)

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Replying to janib ali:
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By Kieffer
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Hey, atleast you have a decent job. You'll make more as time goes

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Replying to janib ali:
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By Eric
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

35,500 Right here....

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Replying to janib ali:
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By Kenneth Hernandez
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

is that annual or monthly??? i dont have any idea eh

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Replying to janib ali:
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By Ashley Johnson
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I have a bachelors in accounting and make 18000..,

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Replying to janib ali:
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By winoneforme
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Private sector blows for an accountant. If u wanna make money get a federal accounting position.

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Replying to janib ali:
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By NYC Guy
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I thought I was low...$42,500/annually here without an accounting degree...and I thought I was bad...currently looking for a higher salary next month. Maybe I'll change my mind...lol

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Replying to janib ali:
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By Dustymack
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

34k here.... 1.7 years on the job unfortunately.

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By Sam
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Loler, maybe you suck at looking for good jobs

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By BobbyRooney
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

wow, thats less than the poverty line in nyc

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Replying to Gogo Erekosima:
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By rocky
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

yeah cuz my 6 month old should be pulling in at least another 30k, right? these averages are bogus corporate propaganda.

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By maven
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

This seems to be on the money. Got a job in NYC with a big four accounting firm after graduating in 2012 with an MA/MBA in accounting from Adelphi. Starting salary 61K.

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Replying to Jason Bramwell:
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By Jay
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Right, because the "average" college grad is able to join the big 4. Pretty sure most people that join the big 4 right out of college has an average GPA of 4.0 with a 2 page resume. I'm pretty certain that you my friend aren't what people typically consider average college grad.

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Replying to qnhan10a32:
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By mef
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

it is easier to get a job at a big four than a smaller firm. of all my accounting friends, most of them got jobs with big four firms, and none of them had 4.0's or two page resumes

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Replying to qnhan10a32:
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By Michael Brown
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Tons of people get jobs or at least paid internships starting out at the big 4. It's not that rare unless you live and went to school in some middle of nowhere city. If you went to a major school in a major city then you can easily get a big 4 job. Yes....easily.

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Replying to qnhan10a32:
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By Angel
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I help hire for big 4. While you do need a fairly good GPA (over 3.3/3.4), the Big 4 look for well rounded individuals who work and/or are involved in school. I work in tax at the Big 4 and started at around 50k about 4.5 years ago. I'm about to leave because I got an offer for a position making 100k in industry. Big 4 really is the way to go if you are going to go accounting. It was a tough 4.5 years, but the experience just can't be beat.

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By Hunterm
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I work in public accountant and only make about $25k and I even have my masters. I'm thinking it might be worth quitting to focus on studying for my CPA and then finding a new job but I'm still hesitant.

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By LILNUGE
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

$34,000... after a year I got a rasie - $35,000 - whoohoo

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Replying to Rhenderson1234:
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By NYC Guy
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Where's a good place to look for fed jobs?

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Replying to jrossman12:
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By aaron
Jun 26th 2015 01:11
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By Oscar shemanos
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I got an offer from a large company, entry level finance position in Chicago for 50k a year.

I will graduate this May and start in June good grades.

Should I ask for more money? Or am I being paid fair enough.

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By nix
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

America is the land of great opportunities. from a 3rd world tier and far more qualified and i make far less than even the 37k per year

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By winoneforme
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Making $65k now, took me 4 years to make that though. Started at $38k

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Replying to Craddockk:
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By NYC Guy
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

You have accounting degree or no? I have a Bachelor in Criminal Justice but have been working i the accounting dept for 4 years...$42,500 currently. Any chance you think I can make $65 without an accounting degree?

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By CPAinTheMaking
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I make over $30K and I dont have my degree. Currently in school junior yr.

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By Kate
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I've been an accountant at a firm for three years and I make $26,000 a year. That's including the nearly 300 hours of overtime I average each year. I'm happy to have a job, but I do wish I had chose a different path in college.

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Replying to Seth Fineberg:
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By Michael Brown
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

There is absolutely nothing wrong with accounting. The issue seems to be either your location is terrible or simply you work for a terrible company/firm.

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By John
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Bachelor done 1 1/2 year in a firm 32 000k pass all my CPA cga exam missing a few month for title. People are struggle to find a job.. A lot of my friends are only missing internship and do something else or bookkeeping. Why are the number soo off it create false expectation for new grad. Maybe wage are lower in montréal.

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By scott
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Wow, it sounds like most of you guys and girls make almost nothing in the accounting industry. No idea what you do, but I just finished my undergrad and got an internship at a mid-level firm in a mid-sized city making the equivalent of 42k a year, but way more than that since it was hourly working 65 hours a week. Looking at an offer of 50k plus after I finish grad school.

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By Fred
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

making 50k starting out in public accounting in st louis

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By Jon
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I am making 30 000 k in Montréal. I have 1 year and 1/2 experience with a BAA and the CGA program and exam successfully completed AU2 PA1 PA2. I work in a accounting firm doing financial statement and taxes in Montréal. You can t really compare wage in the State to Montréal.. for some reason the wage are really low here. Last week 2 people left the accountant field and 1 told us he was going to work on construction.
I also have a lot of friend who can t find job for there internship. I find myself lucky to have a internship but I and starting to wander if it is really worth it.
I study to be financially independent and I am struggling to survive since I work in accounting. I agree these site create false expectation and are bad. Just like financial statement we base our education choice on information we get.
I am French sorry for the bad spelling..

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By BaudityoucanB
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

If you don't work in public accounting, working towards your CPA license, the you probably won't see this salary. So your degrees and work experience mean nothing to anybody that knows what they are talking about. Sorry bookkeepers, but you don't get that salary!

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By Dck
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Located in Iowa, 8 years at regional firm and make $80,000 and great benefits

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By Artsy
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

Really?? Where?? My husband has an Accounting B.S., with minors in Computer Information System and Spanish, and has an M.B.A. all from a top liberal arts college. He cashiers at a liquor store for $9.00 a hour part time.

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By Clay
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

Yep, these guys always up the salary figures. There's big money in getting you to go to college. The universities make huge profits, and the fact that the government has an 80% recoup on your student loan debt (,much higher than any credit card company) well, they stand to make big bucks.
I have an MBA. I was told that I'd make 90k a year. No one that I graduated with makes that kind of money. Most of us got 40,000 dollar jobs right out of school, and many of us have been laid off, re-hired, laid off, and re-hired again. When you add up the ups and downs of the economy and the lay-offs, I'll bet most of my MBA fellow students have averaged 40-50k a year for the last ten years. Is that worth 100k in student loan debt and 7 years of school? I think not.

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By Cat
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

Took 6 years working with a public accounting business in Kansas City to make 46k..

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By SBACPA
Sep 17th 2015 01:22

If any of the accounting grads are looking for a job in public accounting for a firm just outside of Annapolis, MD send your resume to [email protected] Great professional growth and competitive compensation package.

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By smalltownaccountant
Nov 14th 2015 21:47

I just started my 3rd year in public accounting and make 41,500 plus bonuses with a BS in Finance and no CPA. I can increase that quite a bit if I ever get my CPA. I also live in a place where my total housing costs less than $600/mo for my own place. If you can stand not having a life for a few years, find a small town firm in the middle of nowhere. You'll be able to pay down student loans, build up your bank account and learn a lot more than you ever expected.

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By lynnk
Aug 3rd 2016 16:36

This figure is such an unrealistic pipedream of a salary. I've been in my current position for 14 years, with 15 years of part time experience before then, and a bachelor's degree, and I only make $23K for my 60+ hours a week. There's no way some kid fresh out of college is going to get this lucky, and I seriously question the numbers presented in this article. Don't do accounting because the money's good, kids, the money is a big fat lie and everything else about the job is a nightmare. High stress, negative impact on health, no time for a personal life. I haven't had a vacation in the entire time I've been at this job.

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