How much a person is paid is affected by a number of factors. Your pay can increase based on your relative experience, location, or industry. You can also be paid better if you have a higher level of education, certifications, or licensure such as a CPA license. An entry-level position in accounts receivable will not pay as much in starting salary as a position dealing with accounting information systems, as a management accountant, forensic accountant, internal auditor, or a public accountant. In accounting, you are likely to find the best pay if you become a licensed certified public accountant (CPA); your pay will rise from there depending on the level of responsibility you shoulder. If you consult on large mergers or audit a Fortune 500 company or a large accounting firm, you are sure to be paid better than if you work for small non-profit organizations. The actual type of job you take matters for your career goals.
What Are Some of The Best Paying Accounting Jobs
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1. Accounting Professor
Average Income: $86,500
You might pursue a career in academic accounting if your passion is for the intricacies of the profession itself, and if you love informing young people and helping them earn their degree in accounting. You will need to achieve a minimum of a master’s degree to teach at the university level, and it’s recommended that you complete a PhD to give yourself the best shot at a permanent, tenure-track position. This work is very rewarding, and you’ll spend several hours per day working with students by giving lectures or discussing assignments during your office hours. You may also need to grade papers, but larger universities may provide graduate students to help you with that work. The average income of college professors is around $86,000, but it will, of course, depend on who your employer is and there’s always the option to continue working in the non-profit sector or private sector if you already have clients or businesses who rely on your services and advice.
2. Director of Finance & Administration
Average Income: $88,600
This position is one that you might obtain after a number of years within an industry. Your knowledge of accounting and the industry itself will make you the perfect candidate. Directorships are often given to those with master’s degrees. In particular, an MBA with a concentration in accounting or finance will be helpful. A law degree is often considered very helpful, though you will not likely need to be a member of the bar if you remain in a business environment and you’ll find the accounting degree more applicable even when it comes to tax laws.
This job will require you to manage the financial and administrative life of your firm and help them meet their financial goals. Department heads and other management professionals will report to you as you will need their collaboration when devising budgets with the help of the budget analyst reports and those of your cost accountants. Thus, you must have strong communication skills on top of your business acumen.
You may also review reports from the other professional accountants within the company such as the internal auditor, a forensic accountant if you are worried about fraud, and you’ll review all financial statements. These directors work in both the non-profit sector and the private sector, but your average income could look very different depending on which you choose.
3. Corporate Controller
Average Income: $95,600
A corporate controller is often in charge of all entry-level and even management professional accountants within an organization, excepting the C-suites. Virtually every financial function of your firm will route through you. Whether that is budgeting, accounts payable and accounts receivable, reports from your financial analyst, and keeping financial records or generating financial reports for quarterly or year-end statements.
Controllers, in general, work in offices of corporations and maintain regular office hours whether they are in the public or private sector or even in an international organization. However, you might find that you need to work approximately 60 hours a week to manage all your duties. On the other hand, your average income is likely to be ample with a substantial bonus structure to sweeten the deal.
4. Internal Auditing Manager
Average Income: $97,900
Internal auditor managers are in charge of overseeing nearly every single operation in the life of a company. In this job, you will ensure that your firm is in compliance with all relevant governmental regulations, insurance stipulations, and internal standards. Auditing managers ensure that their firms operate at maximum efficiency. A large part of this occupation is generating reports to department heads as well as c-suite executives. Thus, you will need strong written and verbal communication skills, on top of your accounting skills and the ability to generate eye-catching PowerPoint slides.
Typically, professionals in these top positions have extended tenure as well as a master’s degree. You may also have to work with professionals in forensic accounting if you find signs of fraud, either internally or from a consulting accounting firm. Your average income could increase substantially if you work in the private sector and gain enough experience.
5. Investment Banker
Average Income: $98,200
The term ‘investment banker’ covers a fairly wide range of activities performed by accountants and auditors. Those include helping a company issue stock on a public market, managing a merger or acquisition, discovering funding for a company’s expansion, or even helping governments raise capital or attract new business to their state or nation. There are a variety of career paths you could take. The working life of an investment banker tends to be very demanding, including very long hours, high-pressure deals, and rigorous governmental scrutiny related to insider trading and other SEC regulations, which may lead to issues maintaining work/life balance.
Investment bankers typically start out in an entry-level position as a financial analyst that lasts for two years, possibly three. From that point, they will attend graduate school for their MBA. Some will return to their original firms to pursue a career as an associate, but others will move on to a new firm such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, or ABN/AMRO. There are many opportunities for those who are prepared to put real time into their career. And whatever your starting salary, or even average income, the bonuses and benefits can greatly increase your actual compensation.
6. Financial Planning & Analysis Manager
Average Income: $99,100
Financial planning and analysis managers help firms make sure that their funds are spent in the best possible ways, with the least inefficiencies. Professionals in this position seek to reduce financial risk for their firms or clients and they may run a team of others in the accounting field such as cost accountants, a budget analyst or financial analyst, internal auditor, public accountant, etc. A keen knowledge of economics, accounting, record keeping, and finance will be invaluable, as will years of experience. Since your decisions will impact the financial health of the entire firm, your average salary may be augmented with a healthy bonus that is tied to the firm’s bottom line.
If you are aiming to do this sort of work, it’s advised that you attain an MBA with a focus on finance and/or accounting along with your undergraduate degree in accounting.
7. Finance Director
Average Income: $111,300
This occupation is an upper-management position that helps the firm avoid excess risk, maximize efficiency, and best manage the firm’s finances. You might assess the operations in the company’s various departments and audit them for overall efficiency. You can also help determine the best areas for the firm’s growth and development.
Finance directors are generally c-level executives that have MBA degrees with concentrations in finance or accounting. They might also have law degrees as well as many years of proven success in the field. Tenure in investment banking might be helpful in landing such a position, particularly with companies in your industry of specialization.
8. Director of Risk Management/Risk Control
Average Income: $113,400
Risk managers help their firms assess and manage their risk exposure. A bachelor’s degree is often enough to get started in this field, preferably in business, accounting, or finance. However, to excel as a risk management professional, you will need a Master of Business Administration and/or a law degree. Some programs offer concurrent JD/MBA programs which can be completed in approximately four years. Employers for this position include high tech firms, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies from any industry.
9. CFO (Chief Financial Officer)
Average Income: $130,200
The CFO of any company is a professional who oversees how every penny is spent in the firm. This is a position that frequently comes as a capstone to a decades-long tenure in a firm. The CFO frequently sits alongside the CEO and is likewise accountable to the Board of Directors, if there is one.
You will need to have expertise in creating budgets, knowledge of debt and credit instruments, as well as a deep understanding of economics.
While there is no specific requirement for a graduate degree in this position, you should expect to attain an MBA and perhaps additional certificates in related fields. A law degree will also be immensely beneficial in the job market and in the position.
10. Vice President of Finance
Average Income: $134,700
This position is often synonymous with a Chief Financial Officer, but the nomenclature between firms varies. Regardless, this is a top-level position that professionals strive for over the course of decades, not years. To attain this VP position, you should be sure to complete an MBA program, pass the CPA exam, and perhaps complete a law degree as well. All that work will be worth it when you receive your first bonus check, of course.