Which Accounting Jobs Pay the Most?

best paid accounting jobs
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It’s a mystery to me: Why does the federal government think accountants and auditors are poorly paid? According to them, the annual mean wage is $77,920. Why isn’t the profession getting more respect?

The simple answer is the Bureau of Labor Statistics disperses people with your job skills across at least nine professions. So, which jobs in accounting pay the most? To answer that, we’ll use data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2017 report

Let’s start with the classification Accountants and Auditors (13-2011).  They “examine, analyze and interpret accounting records to prepare financial statements, give advice or audit and evaluate statements prepared by others. Install and advise on systems for recording costs or other budgetary and financial data.” According to the report, 1,241,000 people do this job nationwide, earning an average of $77,920. These folks primarily work in four industry groups:

Accountants and auditors
Industry Employment Mean Wage
Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping Payroll 322,140 $83,000
Management of Companies & Enterprises 97,010 $78,070
Local Government 44,830 $66,950
State Government 42,100 $62,140
So who is earning the serious money? This brings us to Financial Managers, who “plan, direct or coordinate accounting, investing, banking, insurance, securities and other financial activities of a branch, office or department of an establishment.” This career category sounds rooted in accounting, and 569,380 people nationwide are earning about $ 143,530.
Financial Manager data
Industry Employment Mean Wage
Credit Intermediaries and Related Activities 83,830 $118,660
Management of Companies & Enterprises 66,960 $159,930
Securities, Commodity Contracts & Other Financial Inv’ts 33,760 $203,460
Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping Payroll 31,820 $173,090
The next highest-paying career category is Personal Financial Advisors. This isn’t the type of job you associate with the word “stockbroker.” The BLS puts “Securities Salesperson” in an entirely different category. Here’s how the agency describes the role: “Advise clients on financial plans using knowledge of tax and investment strategies, securities, insurance, retirement plans and real estate. Duties include assessing client assets, liabilities, cash flow, insurance coverage, tax status and financial objectives.” According to the report, 200,920 people do this job, earning an average of $124,140.
Personal Financial Advisor data
Industry Employment Mean Wage
Securities, Commodity Contracts & Other Financial Inv’ts 139,260 $133,910
Credit Intermediaries and Related Activities 31,520 $103,250
Management of Companies & Enterprises 6,910 $111,910
Agencies, Brokerage & Other Insurance Related Activities 6,720 $89,350
Now let’s look at Financial Analysts. They “conduct quantitative analysis of information affecting investment programs of public and private institutions.” These 294,110 people earn about $ 99,430.
Financial Analysts data
Industry Employment Mean Wage
Securities, Commodity Contracts & Other Financial Inv’ts 73,590 $127,010
Management of Companies & Enterprises 37,680 $90,560
Credit Intermediaries and Related Activities 26,800 $93,890
Continuing down the salary ladder, we reach Financial Examiners, whose job is described as “enforce or ensure compliance with laws and regulations governing financial and securities institutions and financial and real estate transactions. May examine, verify or authenticate records.” This field employs 52,580 people making about $91,780.
Financial Examiners data
Industry Employment Mean Wage
Credit Intermediaries and Related Activities 14,560 $83,400
Securities, Commodity Contracts & Other Financial Inv’ts 7,010 $104,080
The Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation) 6,810 $124,390
Management of Companies & Enterprises 5,680 $90,060
The next role I looked at is Credit Analyst. Here’s their job description: “Analyses credit data and financial statements of individuals and firms to determine the degree of risk involved in extending credit or lending money. Prepare reports for use in decision making.” There are 78,850 people are employed in this role making about $82,900.
Credit Analyst data
Industry Employment Mean Wage
Credit Intermediaries and Related Activities 28,660 $82,160
Non Depository Credit Institutions 14,690 $82,500
Management of Companies & Enterprises 10,920 $83,640
Securities, Commodity Contracts & Other Financial Inv’ts 5,470 $108,760
Budget Analysts come next. Here’s what they do: “Examine budget estimates for completeness, accuracy and conformance with procedures and regulations. Analyze budget and accounting reports.” There are 55,550 people earning about $78,680.
Budget Analyst data
Industry Employment Mean Wage
The Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation) 10,850 $83,620
Local Government 5,990 $73,420
State Government 5,930 $66,630
Colleges, Universities & Professional Schools 4,340 $69,300
Management of Companies & Enterprises 3,370 $81,960
                                                

Eighth on our list is Tax Examiners and Collectors and Revenue Agents. They “determine tax liability or collect taxes from individuals or business firms according to prescribed laws and regulations.” This field employs 59,660 people earning $59,410.

Tax Examiner and Collectors and Revenue Agent Data
Industry Employment Mean Wage
The Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation) 23,760 $69,200
State Government 21,500 $53,830
Local Government 11,410 $48,170
The ninth role is Tax Preparers. They “prepare tax returns for individuals and small businesses.” The BLS shows 68,720 people earning about $47,090.
Tax Preparers Data
Industry Employment Mean Wage
Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping Payroll 66,820 $47,160
Securities, Commodity Contracts & Other Financial Inv’ts 340 $55,840
Management, Scientific & Technical Consulting Services 250 $37,620
Management of Companies & Enterprises 120 $64,730

What have we learned? Well, plenty of fields rely on accounting skills, and certain industries pay more than others. In some fields, the government at all levels is the primary employer. The accounting industry has more well-paid careers than you might imagine.

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About Bryce Sanders

Bryce Sanders

Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, Pennsylvania. He provides high-net-worth client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, Captivating the Wealthy Investor, can be found on Amazon.com.

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