Continued rise predicted for accountants’ starting salaries

Controllers, analysts, and audit positions could get the biggest bump.

Starting salaries for U.S. accounting and finance positions will continue to rise in 2017, reflecting high demand for skilled professionals, according to the Robert Half 2017 Salary Guide.

Increases in starting salaries will range from 3.0% to 4.3% in 2017, depending on the position, the company predicted.

Job functions with the largest projected increase in starting salaries include:

  • Controller.
  • Financial analyst.
  • Business systems analyst.
  • Audit/assurance services positions.

Robert Half's description of a competitive job market mirrors that of another staffing services firm. The 2017 Salary Guide published by Accounting Principals, which focuses on salaries in general rather than starting salaries, predicts continued escalation in pay. The Accounting Principals guide forecasts a 2.8% increase in pay for 2017, up from previous predictions of a 2.4% rise for 2016 and a 1.2% rise for 2015.

Meanwhile, management accountants from across the world expect their salaries to increase by an average of 6% in the coming year, up from 5% in 2015, according to a Chartered Institute of Management Accountants survey.

Generally, the guides and data agree that salaries will increase because of a shortage of job candidates. Competition for highly skilled candidates can be fierce, according to the Robert Half guide.

The most in-demand technical proficiencies include financial controllership, financial analysis, business analysis, and senior accountant skills, according to Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. The demand for business analysis skills in particular is driven by business process-improvement projects related to technology, he said.

Employers of accountants, meanwhile, are most successful recruiting if they embrace a number of strategies, Hird said. The willingness to negotiate is one key, and a streamlined hiring process is another. Hird said companies and firms that subject candidates to a lengthy hiring regimen are losing potential employees who have multiple job offers.

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