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Accountant Salary Guide

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

Accountants maintain and analyze financial records and data so companies have accurate information to develop strategies and make management decisions. Many accountants also prepare tax returns for individuals.

The annual median salary for accountants is $77,250, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In this Article

Accountants and Auditors

National data

Median Salary: $77,250

Projected job growth: 6.9%

10th Percentile: $47,970

25th Percentile: $60,760

75th Percentile: $99,800

90th Percentile: $128,970

Projected job growth: 6.9%

State data

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

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2030. 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.

Wide Range of Salaries for Accountants

Salaries for accountants can vary considerably. The bottom 10% earn less than $47,970 annually, according to the BLS, while the top 10% earn more than $128,970. Salaries are based on many factors, including location. Generally, jobs in metropolitan areas pay more than similar positions in smaller or rural communities.

The bottom 10% of accountants earn less than $47,970 annually, while the top 10% earn more than $128,970. according to the BLS.

Top-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

Other Factors that Influence Salary

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, says 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 says. "As you get more experience, it's going to be the experience factor and your industry." 

Education

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 says have an annual median salary of $45,560. 

Experience

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.

Certification

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.

Workplace

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

Specialty

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

  • Certified Financial Forensics (CFF): for accountants who investigate fraud and embezzlement.
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA): for accountants who specialize in analyzing investments and advise individuals and businesses on how to manage their portfolios.

Job Outlook

Jobs in accounting will grow by 7% from 2020 to 2030, just under the rate for jobs overall, the BLS says. 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 7% through 2030, the BLS says, 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 says. 

Accounting Salaries Compared to Similar Roles

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

Written and reported by:

M.J. Grenzow
Contributing Writer

With professional insight from:

Angel Chatterton
Senior Instructor of Accountancy, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign