Salaries, demand on the rise for U.S. accounting professionals

BY NEIL AMATO

Starting salaries for finance professionals in the United States continue to show signs of growth, and hiring demand for recent college graduates is on the rise. Meanwhile, the CPA designation is employers’ most sought-after credential, according to a new guide on salaries.

Average starting salaries for jobs in corporate accounting are expected to rise between 2.9% and 4.5%, depending on the specific role and the size of the company, according to the Robert Half 2014 Salary Guide for accounting and finance.

“Financial, business and business systems analysts are all in strong demand, even more so than in recent years,” the report said. “Firms are relying on these professionals for guidance as they seek to upgrade and expand their operations. The market for entry-level accounting professionals also has strengthened. Degreed candidates, even those in the earliest stages of their careers, are sought in public accounting and private industry.”

Last year’s salary survey showed annual growth of between 2.7% and 4.5% for starting salaries in corporate accounting in the United States.

The report says that accounting and finance professionals’ role is continuing to expand into a decision-making and business-partnering role. Finance teams also are relied on to analyze and provide the story behind large amounts of data companies now collect.

“Financial professionals are using the information to provide strategic recommendations throughout the organization, from identifying ways to manage costs and grow profits to assisting with human resources and operations decisions,” the report said.

Nontechnical skills such as verbal and written communication and business acumen are now considered indispensable parts of the finance role, the report said.

Other valued credentials mentioned in the report include the Chartered Global Management Accountant, the designation which was created by the AICPA and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

The report says that public accounting firms are focusing on recruiting. Big Four firms, the report said, are “increasingly targeting top students in their sophomore year, having found the most promising candidates commonly have accepted job offers by their junior year.”

Signing bonuses and meaningful raises are becoming the norm as firms try to retain their top talent. Starting salaries in public accounting are expected to rise between 2.6% and 3.3%.

Neil Amato ( namato@aicpa.org ) is a JofA senior editor.

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