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Accountant Salary and CPA Outlook by State

Accountants are well-compensated compared to other professions with similar education requirements, though the salary that you can earn as an accountant is dependent on several factors, including your geographic location and level of education and experience. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that candidates with a master’s in accounting may have an advantage in the job market.1 Certified public accountant (CPA) or other certifications like chartered financial analyst (CFA) or certified internal auditor (CIA) can also increase a candidate’s base salary and provide opportunities for promotion.1 Additional factors that may determine your compensation level include your negotiating skills, the size of the company, and the industry you work in (e.g. insurance, tax preparation, healthcare, and so on). On this page you will find further information about the factors that impact accountant salaries as well as a table outlining the best states for accountants.

How Much Does an Accountant Make?

The BLS reports that the median annual wage for accountants and auditors nationally was $68,150 as of May 2016.1 The top-earning 10% of accountants and auditors earned more than $120,910, while the lowest-earning 10% earned less than $42,140.1 The top-paying industries for accountants and auditors were finance and insurance ($72,950 per year); management of companies and enterprises ($70,790 per year); accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services ($68,130 per year); and government ($65,820 per year).1

Specialty roles within these larger fields also impact salary. According to the Robert Half 2018 Salary Guide, the median salary for senior internal auditors was $85,000 per year, compared to senior financial reporting specialists and SEC financial reporting analysts ($80,000 per year), general accountants ($75,000 per year), and cost accountants ($77,000 per year).2 As in other industries, an individual’s experience makes a difference, too – according to Robert Half’s salary data, those with only one to three years of experience in these areas typically make $10,000 to $15,000 less per year than their more senior counterparts.2 The table below provides an easy-to-digest overview of the differences in requirements, salary, and outlook for different types of accountants.

RoleTypical Highest Education Level AchievedNumber Employed in the USAverage Annual Openings10-Year Job GrowthAverage Salary
Accountants and AuditorsBachelor’s degree (48%)1,398,00014,18010%$68,150
Financial AnalystsBachelor’s degree (61%)296,1003,22011%$81,760
Financial ExaminersBachelor’s degree (84%)53,0004608.6%$79,280
Financial ManagersBachelor’s degree (50%)580,40010,86019%$121,750

Accountant Salary and CPA Outlook by State

The following sortable table provides data on accounting salaries by state as well as the rate of job growth and the cost of living as it relates to the ratio of the average salary/median home list price. The best states for accountants are weighted by the percentage the average salary buys of the median list price for homes in a given state and the projected job growth. This data can provide insight on whether accounting job growth and salary potential justify the costs of attending a master’s in accounting program.

RankStateUS AverageAccountants and Auditors Mean Salary (2016)10$77,920Zillow Home Value Index (2018)11$210,200% of Zillow Home Value Average Salary Buys37%Accountants and Auditors Employed (2014)121,332,700Projected Accountants and Auditors Employed (2024)121,475,10010-Year Growth Rate (2014-
2024)1211%
Best States for
Accountants and
Auditors (Avg=1)1.00
1Tennessee$66,330$148,30045%22,83030,66034%1.65
2Oklahoma$67,260$116,90058%16,36019,20017%1.57
3Georgia$76,560$163,90047%39,95049,16023%1.46
4Texas$80,490$175,80046%122,640151,65024%1.45
5Michigan$74,360$139,90053%29,53033,55014%1.40
6Arkansas$65,740$123,50053%6,8107,72013%1.39
7Indiana$65,880$126,60052%21,75024,84014%1.39
8Iowa$65,470$132,60049%13,02015,11016%1.37
9Kentucky$63,790$139,40046%12,56014,93019%1.35
10Utah$70,220$266,50026%11,32015,62038%1.35
11Alabama$67,750$128,90053%16,63018,45011%1.33
12Idaho$71,960$201,80036%4,2205,39028%1.33
13West Virginia$63,380$103,50061%4,8004,9002%1.33
14Kansas$64,010$128,40050%12,56014,13013%1.31
15Ohio$70,860$131,40054%41,30044,6508%1.30
16North Carolina$74,200$167,90044%34,52040,06016%1.26
17Illinois$76,950$170,80045%51,74058,28013%1.21
18Nebraska$66,730$157,80042%9,99011,51015%1.20
19Mississippi$56,380$120,30047%5,6506,20010%1.19
20Missouri$70,530$146,40048%26,39028,5508%1.18
21Arizona$66,780$235,20028%20,14025,62027%1.16
22Nevada$64,000$265,90024%8,26010,84031%1.16
23Florida$69,090$220,60031%79,80098,77024%1.15
24Pennsylvania$73,500$163,90045%59,33065,17010%1.15
25Montana$64,900$214,20030%3,1903,88022%1.09
26Maryland$82,370$274,00030%28,95035,23022%1.08
27New York$93,280$308,30030%109,030132,33021%1.08
28South Carolina$61,340$150,60041%15,79017,48011%1.08
29Wisconsin$66,070$170,50039%23,03025,67011%1.05
30Colorado$77,400$353,00022%36,11045,86027%1.02
31Virginia$83,380$247,20034%43,92050,24014%1.01
32South Dakota$64,040$181,80035%4,5605,09012%0.98
33North Dakota$58,340$201,50029%4,1804,83016%0.93
34Louisiana$64,410$204,90031%12,87014,44012%0.91
35New Mexico$65,220$182,50036%7,1607,7008%0.91
36Connecticut$80,470$247,00033%18,36020,18010%0.89
37Rhode Island$77,410$270,60029%4,4505,06014%0.89
38Oregon$67,010$323,20021%12,62015,33021%0.88
39Vermont$73,190$223,80033%3,3303,6108%0.86
40Washington$72,020$359,10020%31,29037,85021%0.86
41New Hampshire$71,600$254,10028%4,7305,32012%0.85
42Minnesota$70,920$215,60033%27,48029,4107%0.84
43New Jersey$88,940$313,20028%39,67043,98011%0.82
44Delaware$77,860$268,70029%5,0805,59010%0.82
45Maine$64,190$220,00029%4,8105,1206%0.75
46Wyoming$66,690$202,50033%1,9401,9903%0.74
47Alaska$82,180$273,80030%1,7301,8105%0.73
48California$82,620$535,10015%156,400184,40018%0.70
49Massachusetts$82,420$388,30021%39,03042,1008%0.61
50Washington DC$93,210$553,70017%12,53013,3106%0.48
51Hawaii$61,760$628,60010%5,2305,6608%0.38

Additional Resources

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accountants and Auditors: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm
2. Robert Half 2018 Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance Professionals: https://www.roberthalf.com/sites/default/files/documents/2018_salary_guide_US_accounting_and_finance.pdf
3. O*NET OnLine, Accountants: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/13-2011.01
4. O*NET OnLine, Auditors: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/13-2011.02
5. O*NET OnLine, Financial Analysts: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/13-2051.00
6. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Financial Analysts: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm
7. O*NET OnLine, Financial Examiners: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/13-2061.00
8. O*NET OnLine, Financial Managers: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/11-3031.02
9. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Financial Managers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/financial-managers.htm
10. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, Accountants and Auditors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132011.htm
11. Zillow.com: https://www.zillow.com/home-values/ (data from April 30, 2014)
12. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm