Where do accountants make the most money?

Accountants can earn a lucrative salary, especially if they work in the subsectors, cities, or areas listed below. It is a job that is needed in most industries and, for the most part, in all companies. Most people only need a bachelor’s degree to start a career in accounting.

On average, accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $ 73,560 in May 2020, according to the report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Real wages may be higher or lower, depending on industry and location, but are well above the national average for occupations.

Key takeaways

  • Accounting is a necessity around the world in a variety of fields and as such accountants are always in demand.
  • Depending on the location and type of job, accountants can earn a good salary; the median annual salary in May 2020 for an accountant was $ 73,560.
  • The average annual salary for an accountant is well above the national average for occupations.
  • Industries that pay the most for accountants include finance and insurance, business and company management, tax preparation, and government.
  • The highest paid states / districts for accountants include Washington DC, New York, New Jersey, California, and Massachusetts.

Why are accountants always in high demand?

The lucrative salary is demand-driven and makes accounting one of the best business jobs. “Few fields are as fertile as the accounting domain,” said Robert Valli, former dean of the LIU Post College of Management in Old Westbury, New York, adding that accounting is, in his opinion, recession-proof.

“Companies need an audit if the economy is growing and companies need an audit in a recession,” Valli said. “Everyone should do their taxes. Accounting offers great all-weather positions, and regulatory events in Washington have made it even more pronounced. The Dodd-Frank Act, for example, is still being discussed and understood, and accountants they’ll be working on it for years. “

Also, accounting firms are excellent employers. “The ‘Big Four’ accounting firms always rank in the top 100 companies to work for in America, which speaks to the salary and benefits they can offer, along with the opportunities for growth,” Valli said.

Stuart Mease, former executive director of student advancement and career services in Virginia Tech’s undergraduate business program, also feels that accounting is a promising field. “Federal regulation has secured the demand for people with math and analytical skills,” he said. “They are billable and therefore companies need these people because their clients need people with these skills. That is why public accounting firms are so active on college campuses. There is a race to acquire talent because of the huge financial advantage. ”

But where do accountants make the most money? Based on BLS data, these are the highest paying industries and locations:

Industries that pay more

Accountants earn the highest annual median salary in the following four industries and subsectors:

Industry Average annual salary
Finance and Insurance $ 78,600
Business and Business Management $ 76,230
Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services $ 73,180
government $ 72,260

States that pay the most

The states that pay the highest salaries for accountants are primarily concentrated on the East Coast:

Express Average annual salary
D.C. $ 110,140
New York $ 101,440
New Jersey $ 96,260
Massachusetts $ 88,830
California $ 88,130

Highest paid metropolitan areas

The highest paying metropolitan areas for accountants are as follows:

Metropolitan areas Average annual salary
Salinas, CA $ 111,680
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA $ 105,720
Midland, TX $ 103,120
San Jose- Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $ 102,920
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA $ 101,090
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV $ 98,030
Midland, MI $ 94,170
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT $ 93,780
Five oh $ 93,410
Santa Rosa, CA $ 92,220

Higher paying non-metropolitan areas

The highest paying rural areas for accountants are as follows:

Area Average annual salary
Northwest Colorado $ 93,330
California Eastern Sierra Mother Lode Region $ 84,340
Alaska $ 81,460
North Georgia $ 78,460
West montana $ 77,490

According to the Journal of Accountancy, students who earn the Certified Public Accountant designation have a competitive advantage. There is also a demand for accountants earning a master’s degree, which is why some schools offer an accelerated bachelor’s / master’s program.

Accountants are in high demand, as reflected in their high salaries. For accountants who want to make the most money, knowing the highest paying industries or subsectors and locations can help them plan their career paths accordingly.

The bottom line

Accounting jobs pay a mean annual salary above the national average for occupations. Work is a necessity in most fields and is therefore almost always in demand. Entering the field is not difficult and generally only requires a bachelor’s degree. From there, accounting can be a lucrative career, with higher salaries in specific industries and locations.

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reports, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow to produce accurate and unbiased content at our
editorial policy.

  1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics “Accountants and auditors. “Accessed May 2, 2021.

  2. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. “Dodd-Frank Act. “Accessed May 2, 2021.

  3. US Bureau of Labor Statistics “Occupational employment and wages, May 2020. “Accessed May 2, 2021.

  4. Accounting magazine. “Hiring in public accounting firms reaches its all-time high. “Accessed May 2, 2021.

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Mark Holland

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