Salary Outlook with an Accounting Degree

Created by Henry Steele

By Henry Steele - November 6, 2017
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in accounting can be a good means to advance your career. An accounting degree has been shown to lead to many high paying accounting jobs and can eventually lead to upper management and executive-level positions in many industries.

Featured Programs:
Sponsored School(s)

Below are seven of the best jobs, careers and salaries you may enjoy with an accounting degree:

1. Public Accountant

A public accountant performs many types of accounting, tax, auditing and consulting work. The clients for public accountants usually are corporations, governments and individuals. Public accountants need to be highly experienced and skilled to work with the many financial documents that their clients are required to disclose to the government, such as balance sheet statements and tax forms. Many public accountants provide detailed advice to corporations about the various tax advantages of making certain business decisions.

Public accountants who want to earn the highest salary typically earn their Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation. CPAs are in demand because all publicly traded companies have to have CPAs sign off on documents that they must submit to the SEC, such as annual and quarterly statements.

Many public accountants may specialize in specific areas, including embezzlement, securities fraud and contract disputes.

The median salary for public accountants was $68,100 in 2016, with the top 10% earning $120,00 per year. Public accountants in the finance and insurance field earn the most, at $72,900, while those who work for the government earn the least at $65,800.

See also popular job titles within this field:

2. Chief Financial Officer

The chief financial officer or CFO of a company is the senior executive of an organization that is responsible for managing the overall financial actions and operations.

The major duties of a CFO are to track the cash flow of the company and to plan financially for the coming quarter and year. The CFO also must regularly analyze the financial strengths of weaknesses of the organization and propose actions to correct any problems. The CFO plays a very similar role as controller; he or she is responsible for managing the accounting and finance divisions, and ensuring that all financial reports are accurate.

The CFO may play a key role in helping the CEO of the firm with financial forecasting, cost benefit analyses and getting funding for a variety of financial initiatives. The CFO is the highest ranking professional in the financial industry, and is typically the 3rd-highest role in the organization. Most CFOs have an accounting background.

This role is expected to grow by 8% by 2024, as the growing economy is leading to growth of existing companies, and the creation of new ones.

Median pay for all chief executives, including CFOs, was $181,000 in 2016. The top 10% earned more than $208,000.

See also popular job titles in this field:

3. Controller

A controller is a high ranking individual in an organization who has responsibility for high level accounting and managerial accounting. The controller will usually report to the CFO of the firm, but some smaller companies may combine the roles. The major duties of the controller include preparing the yearly operating budget, overseeing financial reporting and performing vital roles related to payroll.

The controller is largely responsible for preparing budgets and outlining vital budgeting schedules throughout the company. This will include collecting, analyzing and consolidating financial data. The controller does not always maintain the yearly budget, but the controller will monitor any discrepancies, summarize general trends and investigate any deficiencies in the budget.

As controller, this accounting professional also will monitor the overall financial condition of the company. He or she will partner with auditors to ensure that reporting standards are adhered to. Controllers for companies that are publicly traded typically handle public financial filings that are required by the SEC. reports that the average controller salary is $119,000 per year.

4. Financial Analyst

A financial analyst offers advice to individuals and businesses that are making investment and tax decisions. They also perform assessments of investment products, including mutual funds, stocks and bonds.

Many financial analysts are employed by banks, pension funds, mutual funds, securities companies, insurance companies and related businesses. Some financial analysts may be referred to as investment analysts and securities analysts.

Financial analysts are commonly broken down into one of two types:

  • Buy side analysts: They develop investment strategies for companies with large amount of capital to invest. These organizations are called institutional investors, and may include hedge funds, insurance companies, money management firms, and nonprofit groups with major endowments.
  • Sell side analysts: They provide advice to financial services professionals who sell a variety of investments, such as stocks and bonds.

The median salary for financial analysts with an accounting or related degree is $81,700 per year. The top 10% with the most education and advanced degree earn a salary of $165,100 per year.

See also popular job titles in this field:

5. Personal Financial Advisor

Personal financial advisors offer advice to individuals and organizations about insurance, investments, mortgages, saving for college, taxes and retirement.

Most often, personal financial advisors perform assessments of the financial needs of clients and assist them with choosing the best investments, including stocks, bonds and mutual funds. They also offer them specialized advice on tax laws and minimizing what they pay to the state and federal government. Financial advisors assist clients to plan for the their short term and long term financial goals, such as saving for retirement and paying for college expenses.

Financial advisors tend to spend a heavy amount of time marketing their services, and they meet many potential clients by offering seminars and engaging in social networking.

After the financial advisor invests the funds for the client, both they and the client get an investment report every quarter. It is important for the advisor to monitor the growth of the client’s investments, and they will usually meet with them at least on an annual basis to update the client on investment progress. In some cases, it may be needed to update the financial plan as circumstance and investment performance change.

Job demand for personal financial advisors is growing strongly at 14% by 2026, as there are many more people living longer and retiring in the next decade. The median salary for this field is $90,500, with the top 10% earning $208,000 per year.

See also popular job titles in this field:

6. Financial Manager

A financial manager is in charge of the financial oversight of a company or organization. Financial managers produce financial reports and documents, oversee accounting, direct investments, and devise strategies that ensure the long term financial viability of the organization.

The role of the financial manager has been evolving in recent years as technology is reducing the amount of time that it takes to produce financial quarterly and annual reports. Today, the responsibility of the financial manager is more to perform detailed financial analysis and to provide senior managers with strategies to increase sales and profits. Financial managers often work in partnership with top managers and executives to increase profitability and market share.

Financial managers may work in the following specific roles, depending upon the organization:

  • Controller
  • Treasurer
  • Credit manager
  • Cash manager
  • Risk manager
  • Insurance manager

The median salary for all financial managers was $121,700 in 2016, and the top 10% earned more than $208,000.

See also popular job titles in this field:

7. Financial Examiner

Financial examiners are responsible for ensuring compliance with regulations and laws that relate to financial institutions and financial transactions. Financial examiners handle the review of balance sheets, evaluate risks of loans, and assess how funds are being handled in bank accounts.

Financial examiners usually work in either risk assessment or consumer compliance. Risk assessment financial examiners evaluate the financial health of the financial organization. They ensure that the financial institution is offering safe loans and that they have sufficient cash to manage losses.

Financial examiners that work in consumer compliance monitor lending activities and ensure that borrowers all are treated the same. They also ensure that the lender gives loans to people who are able to pay them back.

The median salary for financial examiners in 2016 was $79,200.


Henry Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

"It doesn't matter how many times you have failed, you only have to be right once." - Mark Cuban