Rise in U.S. accounting salaries accelerates

Employers also are embracing flexibility to attract and retain talent.

Accounting professionals in the United States continue to be in high demand, and the salaries they can command are rising at an accelerating rate, according to two salary guides for 2016.

Average starting salaries for U.S. accounting professionals will increase in the coming year between 4.0% and 5.3% over the previous year, depending on the job position, according to the 2016 Salary Guide released by staffing services provider Robert Half.

These figures represent a significant jump from the increase in starting salary ranges for U.S. accountants predicted by Robert Half for recent years:

  • A range of 2.9% to 4.4% for 2015.
  • A range of 2.9% to 4.5% for 2014.
  • A range of 2.7% to 4.5% for 2013.

For 2016, starting salaries in public accounting are expected to rise slightly more than those in corporate accounting. Twenty-six of the 46 public accounting positions listed in the guide had predicted increases of 5.0% or more. The overwhelming majority of the corporate accounting positions listed in the guide had predicted increases between 4.0% and 4.9%.

Meanwhile, a 2016 Salary Guide published by the recruiting firm Accounting Principals forecasts that accounting and finance salaries in the United States will grow 2.4% in 2016. That's up from the 1.2% increase projected for 2015.

Difficulty in finding and retaining good talent has caused many employers to embrace flexibility for accounting professionals, said Dan DeNisco, senior vice president of Robert Half Management Resources. He said allowing remote access for employees and flexible hours may be necessary for firms and companies to attract and retain talent. Employers also are bringing back alumni from their companies and firms to work on a part-time or interim basis, DeNisco said.

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