According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job prospects for accountants are favorable. This is especially true for those accountants with certifications and licenses. If you are considering a career in accounting, learning more about your potential starting salary can help you push your way through school. Accountants earn competitive starting salaries, and those salaries go up when you add a CPA license or MBA degree.
To become a certified public accountant (CPA) in most states, you must complete 150 credit hours of post-secondary education to be eligible to sit for the CPA exam. The exam consists of four parts, and you must pass all four parts within 18 months. After passing the exam, you must meet your state's work experience requirement to obtain your CPA license. To maintain your license, you must complete your state's yearly continuing education requirements.
The potential starting salary for an accountant varies widely. Robert Half International, a large job placement firm, compiles yearly salary data nationwide.This data illustrates potential earnings in different accounting areas and in a range of company sizes. The area of accounting can determine your starting salary. Also, salaries earned in public accounting differ from those earned in corporate accounting. Typically, public accounting pays more. The size of your company also affects your starting salary. Usually, larger companies pay more than smaller ones. For example, a first-year accountant going to work in the tax department at a large public accounting firm can expect to earn between $49,000 and $59,750 per year. For a similar position at a small accounting firm, the salary range is $41,250 to $49,000. If you work at a midsize corporation doing cost accounting, your first-year salary would range from $37,750 to $45,500.
According to Discover CPA, the starting salary is 10 percent higher for a CPA vs. his non-CPA colleague. Becker, a leader in CPA exam preparation, states that a starting salary at a large public accounting firm is $67,375 for a CPA vs. $61,250 for a non-CPA.
Accountants have a few different options when considering a master's degree program. The main options are a master's in business administration (MBA) or a master's in accounting. Accountants possessing a master's degree typically earn a starting salary 10 percent higher than those colleagues without one, similar to the effect of having a CPA license. Accountants with both a CPA and an MBA tend to earn more than accountants with just one of those. The average salary for an accountant with a CPA and an MBA is $87,525 (across all levels of experience). The average salary for a CPA or MBA only is $84,051 and $77,754 respectively.