How Much Do Accountants Make?

accountant job descriptionAccountants prepare and examine financial records. It’s the responsibility of the accountant working on the account to make sure the records are accurate, true, and all the tax information is correct.
As well as preparing financial records, accountants must provide notes and details regarding their findings. This includes communicating their findings to senior managers, CEO’s and other people within the organization.

Accountants and auditors have a key role in helping an organization or an individual have a clear handle on their finances. Often being the first to know about any financial issues or difficulties that may be arising. 

You might also be interested in learning how to become an accountant.

Accountant Salary

The first question that comes to mind is, how much do accountants make? Accountants work across many different industries, and as such there are varying salaries.

The median accountant salary across all industries and states is $70,640​.​

The lowest 10% across the industries are earning under $43,650, while the highest 10% of earners are exceeding $122,840. This puts an accountants starting salary in the <$45,000 bracket.

accountant salaryIt’s important to remember that accountants can work long hours during busier times in the month, or year. Financial year ends, monthly reporting, and annual tax return periods have strict deadlines.

Most accountants work full-time. About 20% of accountants worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Accountants can work for themselves, as part of a team of accountants, or as employees for an organization.

Accountants are most commonly employed by organizations. This is because they are needed all year round, and having the consistency that an employee offers adds stability to preparation of financial records.

Top 5 Paying States

FlagStateEmployment per 1000 JobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
New York FlagNew York11.08$43.20$89,850
New Jersey FlagNew Jersey9.19$40.46$84,160
Maryland FlagMaryland10.63$38.64$80,360
Massachusetts FlagMassachusetts10.83$38.48$80,030
Virginia FlagVirginia

Top Paying Industries

IndustryPercent of industry employmentHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Securities and Commodity Contracts Intermediation and Brokerage1.51$46.14$95,970
Federal Executive Branch 1.16$44.92$93,430
Securities and Commodity Exchanges 2.45$43.47$90,430
Software Publishers2.14$43.22$89,890
Financial Investment Activities 5.80$42.47$88,340

Accountant Job Description

what do accountants doSo, what do accounts do? Accountants prepare and examine financial records, both manually and electronically. In the process of doing this there are some key duties that include:

  • Checking financial records for accuracy and legality.
  • Prepare tax returns and ensure tax payments are made in a timely manner.
  • Check accounting procedures for efficiency and accuracy.
  • Organize and maintain financial documents and records.
  • Make suggestions on ways to reduce costs, improve cash flow and improve the bottom line.

In addition to being responsible for maintaining records, accountants are also expected to report on their findings. This means attending meetings, preparing written reports and adding notes to the accounts.
There is a need for some social and people skills. Although accountants do a lot of their work alone, when communicating to others in the organization they are required to be clear and concise. Mistakes in communication can prove to be costly and time consuming.

Public Accountants

Public accountants work with clients to prepare their public documents that they have to disclose by law. This includes balance sheet statements, tax forms, and other documents that potential investors would need to see.
They usually work for accounting firms, or have their own practice. It’s a legal requirement for publicly traded companies to have CPA’s sign off their documents as true and accurate.

Management Accountants

Management accountants prepare financial information to be used internally by a big organization. It’s not intended to be viewed by persons outside of the business, and the information is used to aid with forecasting, profitability, and targets.
They also help the business with budgeting, performance evaluation, and highlight ways companies can cut costs and improve margins.

Other Defined Accountant Roles

There are other roles for accountants that differ from those above, and each accountant’s career path can have a very different progression. Financial accountants deal with only the financial side of the business, nothing to do with the management accounting.
Government accountants work exclusively for the government, maintaining and auditing the records of private businesses that are subject to government regulations.
Auditors also do a lot of accounting work, and the two careers paths are often closely linked. To audit financial records you need in depth accounting knowledge, to audit accurately the work the accounts have prepared.

Career Outlook Of Accountants

According to US government projections, there is expected to be a 10% growth between 2016 and 2026 in the accounting profession. This is about average for all professions, and adds some stability to the profession.
The best prospects are for those who are fully qualified. Certified Public Accountants are always in demand, and with corporate scandals on the increase, extra scrutiny is expected in the future.
The continued growth of business worldwide is also expected to lead to an increase in demand for accountants. With a need for every business and organization to have accurate and up to date financial records, the prospects for skilled accountants is always going to be very good.

Accountant Salary by State

FlagStateEmployment per 1000 JobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Alabama FlagAlabama7.587$31.71$65,960
Alaska FlagAlaska7.295$37.73$78,480
Arizona FlagArizona7.443$30.98$64,440
Arkansas FlagArkansas4.976$29.88$62,160
California FlagCalifornia9.54$37.54$78,090
Colorado flagColorado13.471$35.59$74,020
Connecticut FlagConnecticut9.122$37.03$77,020
Delaware flagDelaware11.079$35.71$74,280
Florida FlagFlorida9.511$32.72$68,060
Georgia FlagGeorgia9.026$36.82$76,580
Hawaii FlagHawaii7.562$28.76$59,810
Idaho FlagIdaho5.531$32.72$68,070
Illinois FlagIllinois8.291$35.28$73,390
Indiana FlagIndiana6.993$31.68$65,890
Iowa FlagIowa6.417$30.01$62,420
Kansas FlagKansas8.32$31.05$64,590
Kentucky FlagKentucky6.169$29.80$61,970
Louisiana FlagLouisiana6.24$30.28$62,990
Maine FlagMaine7.394$29.58$61,530
Maryland FlagMaryland10.129$38.64$80,360
Massachusetts FlagMassachusetts10.937$38.48$80,030
Michigan FlagMichigan6.568$32.91$68,460
Minnesota FlagMinnesota8.97$33.01$68,660
Mississippi FlagMississippi4.729$26.94$56,030
Missouri FlagMissouri8.582$33.25$69,160
Montana FlagMontana6.823$29.37$61,100
Nebraska FlagNebraska9.151$31.65$65,820
Nevada FlagNevada6.388$30.41$63,260
New Hampshire FlagNew Hampshire7.052$32.81$68,250
New Jersey FlagNew Jersey9.355$40.46$84,160
New Mexico FlagNew Mexico8.34$29.75$61,880
New York FlagNew York11.079$43.20$89,850
North Carolina FlagNorth Carolina7.484$34.23$71,200
North Dakota FlagNorth Dakota8.186$27.03$56,230
Ohio FlagOhio7.237$32.87$68,360
Oklahoma FlagOklahoma9.271$30.64$63,720
Oregon FlagOregon6.606$31.65$65,820
Pennsylvania FlagPennsylvania9.614$33.71$70,120
Rhode Island FlagRhode Island8.797$37.11$77,180
South Carolina FlagSouth Carolina7.39$28.48$59,240
South Dakota FlagSouth Dakota10.044$28.84$60,000
Tennessee FlagTennessee6.794$31.55$65,630
Texas FlagTexas9.481$36.16$75,210
Utah FlagUtah7.659$33.07$68,780
Vermont FlagVermont9.233$33.85$70,420
Virginia FlagVirginia10.769$37.81$78,640
Washington FlagWashington8.591$35.07$72,950
West Virginia FlagWest Virginia6.288$28.61$59,520
Wisconsin FlagWisconsin6.941$32.26$67,100
Wyomin FlagWyoming6.319$31.12$64,730

Top paying metropolitan areas

AreaEmployment per 1000 jobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
New York / White Plains Wayne, – NY/NJ – Metropolitan Division13.02$46.51$96,740
San Jose / Sunnyvale / Santa Clara, – CA 13.91$44.69$92,950
Salinas, CA 5.29$43.68$90,850
Dothan, AL 5.52$43.26$89,980
Bethesda / Rockville / Frederick, – MD – Metropolitan Division 13.25$43.13$89,710

 Top paying nonmetropolitan areas

AreaEmployment per 1000 jobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
St. Mary’s County, – Maryland – nonmetropolitan area5.94$39.07$81,270
Southeast Alaska – nonmetropolitan area 11.96$36.51$75,930
Railbelt – Southwest Alaska – nonmetropolitan area 3.75$36.27$75,440
North Carolina – nonmetropolitan area4.27$36.27$75,430
Southwestern New Mexico – nonmetropolitan area 4.03$36.12$75,130

Accountant Career Video

Noel Griffith, Ph.D.
Noel Griffith is a Doctor of Philosophy with a strong interest in educational research. He has been an editor-in-chief of since 2014. Noel is an avid reader (non-fiction), enjoys good food, live theatre, and helping others make wiser career decisions.

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