Mid-Career Salaries Stand Out for Accounting Degree-Holders

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Terry Sheridan
Columnist
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For accountants and tax professionals interested in recruiting new college grads, Payscale’s latest report on the best-paying college business majors offers an idea on the levels of salary these young degree holders can achieve. The survey reveals that all but four are in accounting — and those four are in the related major of finance.

In Best Jobs for Business Majors by Salary Potential, the salaries listed are for mid-career pay levels, which means workers will have at least 10 years of experience. That suggests new hires could very well expect to hit these salary levels by their mid-30s.

The list ranges from the two highest-paid positions, chief accounting officer at $198,000 and accounting firm partner at $196,000, to finance specialist at $49,300.

Fifteen of the 35 positions on the list earn more than $100,000 a year; three are in the $90,000 range; six are in the $80,000s; two are in the $70,000s; and the remainder are in the $60,000s and $50,000s. The finance specialist is the only position that pays less than $50,000.

The four positions that are finance majors instead of accounting majors include finance analysts, senior financial analyst, manager of financial planning and analysis, and senior finance manager.

Here’s a snapshot of the top 15 positions ranked by Payscale and the percentage of professionals who have the pertinent major:

  • Chief accounting officer, $198,000, 81 percent with an accounting major.
  • Partner in accounting firm, $196,000, 86 percent with an accounting major.
  • Tax director, $169,000, 67 percent with an accounting major.
  • Chief financial officer, $152,000, 52 percent with an accounting major.
  • Internal audit director, $142,000, 63 percent with an accounting major.
  • Senior tax manager, $141,000, 70 percent with an accounting major.
  • Senior finance manager, $130,000, 28 percent with a finance major.
  • Director of accounting and financial reporting, $128,000, 68 percent with an accounting major.
  • Manager of financial planning and analysis, $115,000, 33 percent with a finance major.
  • Business unit controller, $113,000, 48 percent with an accounting major.
  • Accounting director, $108,000, 69 percent with an accounting major.
  • Finance director, $108,000, 38 percent with an accounting major.
  • Corporate controller, $102,000, 60 percent with an accounting major.
  • Financial reporting manager, $102,000, 63 percent with an accounting major.
  • Plant controller, $101,000, 60 percent with an accounting major.

About Terry Sheridan

About Terry Sheridan

Terry Sheridan is an award-winning journalist who has covered real estate, mortgage finance, health care, insurance, personal finance, and accounting and taxation issues for newspapers, magazines, and websites. A Chicago native and former South Florida resident, she now lives in New England.

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