What Is The Average Salary For Someone With an Accounting Degree?

An accounting degree gives its holders the skills necessary to compile financial information, manage it, and report on it according to acceptable industry standards. The salary for the education depends on the position and the degree level obtained.


According to the September 2013 Salary Survey compiled by National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the position of accountant is one of the most commonly entered by accounting degree holders. These professionals record financial transactions, ensure compliance with all applicable regulations and laws regarding money, and produce reports. They also advise company officers and employees on such matters as budgeting, increasing profit, and reducing expenses.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that as of May 2012, the latest time period for which complete statistics were available, accountants in the USA averaged $71,040 per year, or $34.15 per hour. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than an annual $39,930, or $19.20 per hour. The highest-earning 10 percent received over $111,510 yearly, or $53.61 hourly.
Over a quarter of all 1.1 million accountants worked for accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services where pay averaged $75,790 per year, or $36.44 per hour. The highest paying employers were securities and commodity exchanges, which offered mean pay of $96,260 annually, or $46.28 hourly.  

The most populous state in the union, California, boasted the most opportunities for accountants with 12 percent of the jobs at mean wages of $75,870 yearly, or $36.48 hourly. District of Columbia, which the BLS considered with states, showed the highest pay averages of $87,370 per year, or $42.01 per hour.


An undergraduate degree in accounting granted average starting salaries of $53,500 per year, according to the NACE. The lowest quartile made an annual $41,600 while the highest quartile earned $60,900 per year. Degree holders found the most jobs in professional, scientific, and technical services, where the average starting salary was $53,200. Other big employers were federal, state, and local government, averaging $51,100 annually, and finance and insurance with mean pay at $53,400 yearly. The highest annual wages were with the wholesale trade at a mean $55,300 per year.  Those who obtained a master’s degree in accounting earned the higher average of $62,700 per year. The lowest quartile made less than $51,600 yearly while the upper quartile received over $70,900 annually.

The industry with the most jobs for master’s degree holders consisted of professional, scientific and technical services at a mean $63,100 per year. Other big employers were finance and insurance at a mean $63,200 annually, and federal, state and local government at a mean yearly $60,000. The best pay was in manufacturing, averaging $64,700 yearly.


Aside from excellent salaries, accounting degree holders can look forward to good opportunities according to the BLS. It expects jobs for accountant to increase by 13 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is close to the average 14 percent predicted for all positions. Much of the demand will come from recent financial problems, which have increased government oversight and accountability regulations. Accountants are necessary to ensure that companies do not stray from the stricter government oversight.

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