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How much is an accountant's annual salary and what is their job outlook?

An accountant works at a conference table with staff.
An accountant works at a conference table with staff.

Median annual salary

Accountants, who maintain and analyze financial records and data, earn a median annual salary of $77,250. Salaries vary considerably, however. For instance, the bottom 10% earn less than $47,970 annually, while the top 10% earn $128,970 or more, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Salaries are based on many factors, including location.

Accountants and Auditors
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Median Hourly Wage$37

Job growth5.6%

Total Employment1,318,550

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alabama $62,200 $44,960 $103,930
Alaska $77,450 $48,900 $116,770
Arizona $76,060 $47,630 $124,440
Arkansas $61,770 $39,380 $101,200
California $80,540 $50,850 $139,000
Colorado $78,470 $48,830 $129,760
Connecticut $78,780 $49,430 $128,100
Delaware $78,760 $48,940 $127,210
District of Columbia $101,280 $61,720 $162,600
Florida $63,640 $39,150 $124,970
Georgia $74,700 $43,480 $128,530
Hawaii $63,020 $47,510 $99,740
Idaho $62,750 $39,280 $102,380
Illinois $75,400 $47,470 $122,270
Indiana $64,280 $44,800 $106,580
Iowa $62,750 $47,470 $102,160
Kansas $62,980 $46,310 $103,010
Kentucky $62,470 $40,610 $102,810
Louisiana $62,750 $39,080 $101,760
Maine $63,780 $48,490 $101,040
Maryland $78,050 $48,710 $128,300
Massachusetts $80,910 $59,950 $132,690
Michigan $72,100 $47,630 $121,700
Minnesota $76,450 $48,660 $125,930
Mississippi $60,320 $37,050 $102,140
Missouri $62,320 $38,540 $114,520
Montana $65,500 $47,860 $103,030
Nebraska $62,750 $45,490 $101,850
Nevada $61,920 $31,000 $100,480
New Hampshire $76,270 $48,710 $111,660
New Jersey $95,640 $61,980 $134,880
New Mexico $62,480 $46,300 $102,920
New York $97,640 $59,020 $166,330
North Carolina $77,030 $48,430 $129,850
North Dakota $62,320 $38,610 $101,270
Ohio $69,600 $47,100 $120,080
Oklahoma $71,320 $46,710 $121,020
Oregon $75,880 $48,490 $104,420
Pennsylvania $73,490 $47,160 $123,120
Rhode Island $79,890 $49,150 $129,000
South Carolina $61,900 $39,220 $107,160
South Dakota $62,750 $48,400 $98,600
Tennessee $62,680 $46,390 $100,390
Texas $77,640 $48,650 $129,820
Utah $63,540 $37,270 $121,700
Vermont $69,530 $48,060 $101,900
Virginia $78,780 $48,730 $131,550
Washington $79,680 $57,310 $127,010
West Virginia $62,980 $38,610 $101,660
Wisconsin $74,770 $48,670 $104,730
Wyoming $62,980 $45,760 $101,760

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2031. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

In this Article

Highest-paying metropolitan areas

Location can influence how much you'll earn as an accountant. The 10 metropolitan areas with the highest annual median salaries for the field are located primarily on the East and West coasts and tend to be in densely populated areas.

The difference in wages can be significant: Median salaries in the top 10 metro areas are between $13,000 and $22,000 higher than the median wage for the U.S. overall. 

Metro Area Median Annual Salary
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $100,400
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA $98,920
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA $98,300
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV $95,880
Napa, CA $88,850
Trenton, NJ $86,850
Parkersburg-Vienna, WV $85,220
Santa Rosa, CA $82,820
Midland, TX $81,960
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH $81,630

How does an accountant's salary compare to similar occupations?

Here's a look at how median salaries for accountants compare to similar professions that require comparable education, according to the BLS.

Career Median Annual Salary
Accountants and Auditors $77,250
Budget Analysts $79,940
Personal Financial Advisors $94,170
Financial Managers $131,710

Factors that influence earnings

Aside from location, there are several other factors that can play a role in your salary. You may want to consider how they will affect your career—not just now, but also in the future.

Initially, your education and becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) will have the biggest influence on your salary, said Angel Chatterton, a senior instructor of accountancy at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a CPA herself.

"Starting out, it's definitely the CPA and your education," she said. "As you get more experience, it's going to be the experience factor and your industry." 


Having more education will often play a role in which positions you qualify for, and as a result, what you will earn.

For example, an associate degree can prepare you for a job as a bookkeeper or accounting clerk, roles that the BLS states have an annual median salary of $45,560. 


Accountants with experience often are rewarded with higher salaries. In addition to seniority, taking continuing education courses can help you qualify for a promotion into management or leadership and boost your pay.


Becoming a CPA can increase your earning power. Not only do CPAs typically draw a higher salary than other accountants they also stand out, both to clients and potential employers, as professionals at the top of their field. Many CPAs have a master's degree in accounting or a master's in business administration (MBA) with a focus on accounting.


The top-paying industry for accountants is transportation. Here's a look at median annual salaries for three of the top-paying industries.

  • Pipeline transportation: $123,230
  • Information services: $112,900
  • Computer manufacturing: $123,210


Having a specialty beyond the CPA designation can also help boost your salary potential. A sample of these certifications include:

Job Outlook

Jobs in accounting will grow by 5.6% through 2031, just under the rate for jobs overall, according to the BLS. Demand may be particularly strong in international trade and technology.

Globalization will require accountants with expertise in international business and fields such as mergers and acquisitions, according to the BLS. Complex tax laws and regulations also will drive demand for accountants.

Jobs in accounting will grow by 5.6% through 2031, according to the BLS, and demand may be particularly strong in international trade and technology.

Chatterton agrees that accounting should continue to see strong growth and points to steady demand shown in U.S. labor reports. Accounting is generally a "recession-proof type of job. It's one of the last things that an entity will cut," she said. 

mj grenzow

Written and reported by:

M.J. Grenzow

Contributing Writer

angel chatterton

With professional insights from:

Angel Chatterton

Senior Instructor of Accountancy, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

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