CPA Salaries Rise as Competition for Skilled Professionals Persists

Robert Half releases "2008 Salary Guide"

MENLO PARK, CA (Robert Half International) -- Starting salaries for accounting and finance professionals are expected to increase an average of 4.3 percent in the coming year, according to the just-released 2008 Salary Guide from Robert Half International. Public accountants, financial analysts and internal auditors are projected to see the largest gains.


Robert Half International is the world’s first and largest staffing services firm specializing in accounting and finance. Robert Half’s financial staffing divisions include Accountemps®, Robert Half® Finance & Accounting and Robert Half® Management Resources, for temporary, full-time and senior-level project professionals, respectively. The 2008 Salary Guide is based on an analysis of the thousands of job placements managed by the company’s U.S. offices.

“Competition for skilled financial professionals has prompted many companies to offer higher compensation to attract and retain top performers,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. “Employers seek staff who possess broad skill sets -- in addition to expertise in their functional areas. This includes information technology proficiency and strong communication abilities.”

Not surprisingly, experienced candidates have greater leverage in negotiating compensation, and salaries for the most in-demand specialties are rising faster than the national average. Nationwide, demand is particularly strong among commercial construction, financial services and healthcare firms, Robert Half research shows.

Corporate Accounting: Salaries Rise for Analyst, Internal Audit Positions

Business expansion and ongoing corporate governance initiatives are fueling hiring among corporate accounting and finance departments. Entry-level financial, budget, treasury and cost analysts at large companies (more than $250 million in sales) are expected to see the biggest increases in base pay in 2008, with the average starting salary expected to rise 6.9 percent, to between $38,250 and $47,500 annually. Internal audit managers at large companies are forecast to receive starting compensation between $81,500 and $109,500 annually, an increase of 6.7 percent over last year’s projections.

Public Accounting Outlook

Steady hiring is expected to continue in public accounting as firms seek staff to help deliver an expanding set of service offerings. Average starting salaries for senior managers and directors at midsize firms ($25 million to $250 million in sales) are projected to increase 7.7 percent in the year ahead, to between $88,250 and $129,250.

Professionals with one to three years of experience also are highly sought as firms look to address rising workloads and hire their next generation of leaders. At small firms (up to $25 million in sales), professionals at this stage of their careers can expect a 7.7 percent increase in average starting salaries, to a range of $44,750 to $53,250.

Banking and Financial Services Outlook

In 2008, commercial lenders with more than five years of experience can anticipate a 4.7 percent gain in starting salaries, to a range of $82,000 to $107,500. Average starting salaries for hedge fund accountants are expected to rise 6.5 percent, to between $46,250 and $64,500.

All salaries listed in the 2008 Salary Guide from Robert Half International are national averages. Because hiring activity and compensation vary significantly by industry and geographic market, the Salary Guide includes a regional analysis of hiring trends and compensation variances for select U.S. markets.

4 Responses to “CPA Salaries Rise as Competition for Skilled Professionals Persists”

  1. Rick Telberg

    It doesn’t hurt to look. Like any professional, you should be confident that you have investigated and determined your market value. And, like any professional, you should remain mindful of your obligations to your firm and its clients. If and when you get a better offer, no one would fault you for considering it. Discretion counts.

  2. cindy palladino


    I have been working in new jersey just out of college and I am making 56,000 plus a year and have just passed my cpa exams. I am a staff auditor and I have been with the company for 2 yrs. My monthly reviews always state that I have exceeded all expectations required of my job. Should I stay with the company I am with and see what next year brings as far as money? Or should I start interviewing to see what kind of positions are out there for me. I feel I am worth more then some of my managers who don’t even have their cpa yet. They can’t even pass the first test.. What do you think?

    Thanks, Cindy

  3. matt

    I completely disagree with the numbers above. I work in New York, NY and I have less than three years experience as a public accountant and I make between 70-80K. I dont know where these low numbers are coming from

    • koshy alexander


      You failed to read the last paragraph of this article with states that the figures are national averages not those for New York which usually has salaries that are higher than the national average.