CPA Salaries & Compensation | How Much Does a CPA Make?

Updated:December 8, 2018
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A CPAs salary can vary according to many different components such as location, job description, seniority, and the skills the CPA possesses. In the job market, certain skills and qualifications have different effects and values. For example, knowledge of the latest financial reporting technology will be more valuable than an older system.

Salary in public accounting

The national average for a CPA is around $64,000 a year in 2016. Depending on the market and the demand, salaries can go from $74,000 to $120,000 in the highest ranges.

Tax vs audit

Both fields have positives and negatives. Some view auditing as the more work and travel intensive route than taxation. Both have the ability to be more profitable than the other but many variables are involved. With taxation, it behooves the CPA to develop a specialty to be able to decipher and recognize the tax codes associated with a specific field or industry easier. Auditing utilizes many of the accounting skills learned and the CPAs that deal with auditing matters tend to communicate more with the client. Auditing is thought to have a clearer path to officer or executive positions within a company. Tax is thought to have better hours, better pay for the amount of work done, and more opportunities for promotion.

Salary in corporate accounting

Corporate accountants make about $52,000 a year. The pay is relatively consistent for about a decade’s worth of experience in the field because experience doesn’t have much of an effect on yearly salary in this field. Corporate accountants main duties are to maintain records for financial regulation and compliance, they may also aid executive in making sound decisions with monetary investment and allocation. They may also prepare budgets and reports to display how well a business has aligned to their initial goals and plans. Seniors with over 10 years of experience can expect a salary to range from $49,500 for smaller companies and $80,000 for larger companies. This position may not require a CPA license but usually a bachelor’s degree in finance or accounting isn’t negotiable.

Salary in financial services like risk assessment

Risk assessment salaries are highly varied for some areas their median salary is $104,000 annually. With about 10 years of experience, it is projected a risk assessment analyst will make between $100,000 and $108,500 a year. A risk assessment analyst’s job consist of protecting a firm or company’s assets by recognizing and preventing circumstances that may cause forfeit or reduction of any assets a company owns or uses. A bachelor’s degree and a few years in the field are standard requirements for employment.


Geographically, New York, Chicago, Boston, Massachusetts, and Miami have some of the highest starting salaries for CPAs. This can be attributed to the number of companies in the city or state, the existence of long-standing large institutions in these cities, the amount of CPAs in the area, and the size of the business. Typically, larger cities with larger business will pay the most for a CPA.

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