Accountant Salary Growth

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billlumber1981
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Joined: Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:28 am

Accountant Salary Growth

Post by billlumber1981 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 8:52 am

Hi all,

Are there any accountants on this forum? I am a CPA in the Atlanta area and am curious what the salary growth looks like for this career/how I am doing in my growth. Below is my growth over the past 7 years since I have been out of school:

Year 1 - Public Accounting - Audit @ Regional Firm - 51k (Staff)
Year 2 - Public Accounting - Audit @ Regional Firm - 54k (Staff)
Year 3 - Corporate GL Accounting - 65k +5% bonus (Senior)
Year 4 - Corporate GL Accounting - 67k + 5% bonus (Senior)
Year 5 - Corporate GL Accounting - 78k + 10% bonus (Senior)
Year 6 - Corporate GL Accounting - 80k + 10% bonus (Senior)
Year 7 - Corporate GL Accounting - 91k + 10% bonus (Manager) - different company.
Now I'm at 93k + 10% bonus. Hours in corporate are much better than public - 40 hours/week with plenty of downtime. Good work/life balance. Work from home 1 day per week.

Any other CPAs care to comment on my career growth? Am I on the right track? My goal is to be a controller and ideally make 120k + bonus. Is this possible in this profession?

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willthrill81
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by willthrill81 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:09 am

You've doubled your income in nominal dollars in seven years. You should be very happy about that.

I think that another 20% growth in the next several years is very possible, maybe even likely.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

Pacman
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by Pacman » Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:23 am

You can consider raising your desired salary goal. I think you are doing great and could get there within 5 years or less if you are aggressive. You can also get to your salary as an experienced manager or senior manager. Below is my salary growth for comparison. These are only base numbers, excluding bonuses, profit sharing, 401K matches, etc.

yr 1 big 4 staff: 52K base
yr 2 big 4 staff: 59K base
yr 3 fp&a analyst f500: 65k base
yr 4 fp&a analyst f500: 68K base
yr 5 sr sec reporting analyst f500: 75K base
yr 6 sr sec reporting analyst f500: 85K base
yr 7 sec reporting mgr f500: 105K base
yr 8 sec reporting mgr f500: 111K base
Yr 9 fp&a manager f500: 115K base
Yr 10 fp&a manager f500: 120K base

Topic Author
billlumber1981
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by billlumber1981 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:36 am

Pacman wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:23 am
You can consider raising your desired salary goal. I think you are doing great and could get there within 5 years or less if you are aggressive. You can also get to your salary as an experienced manager or senior manager. Below is my salary growth for comparison. These are only base numbers, excluding bonuses, profit sharing, 401K matches, etc.

yr 1 big 4 staff: 52K base
yr 2 big 4 staff: 59K base
yr 3 fp&a analyst f500: 65k base
yr 4 fp&a analyst f500: 68K base
yr 5 sr sec reporting analyst f500: 75K base
yr 6 sr sec reporting analyst f500: 85K base
yr 7 sec reporting mgr f500: 105K base
yr 8 sec reporting mgr f500: 111K base
Yr 9 fp&a manager f500: 115K base
Yr 10 fp&a manager f500: 120K base
Do you also have pretty good work/life balance? (40 hours/week). Where do you see your ultimate salary ending up? 150k? 200k?
What market are you in? Similar to Atlanta?

It looks like you are changing every 2 years? Is that ok to do? I've had people tell me that I need to stay put a solid 3-4 years AT LEAST.

Have you ever worked in an unstable toxic environment? Sorry for all the questions, I'm just curious to learn more.

JEC
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by JEC » Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:46 am

You seem right on track. Your intermediate growth potential isn't quite as high now that you've left public. However, long term that goal is certainly possible and, in fact, very attainable. I agree with Pacman that you may even want to shoot higher with your goal. Below is my growth FWIW. I'm a CPA at a regional public accounting firm in an extremely LCoL area.

Year 1 - $45k - Staff
Year 2 - $49k - Staff
Year 3 - $54k - Senior
Year 4 - $62k - Supervisor
Year 5 - $69k - Supervisor
Year 6 - $75k - Manager

Pacman
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by Pacman » Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:59 am

billlumber1981 wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:36 am
Pacman wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:23 am
You can consider raising your desired salary goal. I think you are doing great and could get there within 5 years or less if you are aggressive. You can also get to your salary as an experienced manager or senior manager. Below is my salary growth for comparison. These are only base numbers, excluding bonuses, profit sharing, 401K matches, etc.

yr 1 big 4 staff: 52K base
yr 2 big 4 staff: 59K base
yr 3 fp&a analyst f500: 65k base
yr 4 fp&a analyst f500: 68K base
yr 5 sr sec reporting analyst f500: 75K base
yr 6 sr sec reporting analyst f500: 85K base
yr 7 sec reporting mgr f500: 105K base
yr 8 sec reporting mgr f500: 111K base
Yr 9 fp&a manager f500: 115K base
Yr 10 fp&a manager f500: 120K base
Do you also have pretty good work/life balance? (40 hours/week). Where do you see your ultimate salary ending up? 150k? 200k?
What market are you in? Similar to Atlanta?

It looks like you are changing every 2 years? Is that ok to do? I've had people tell me that I need to stay put a solid 3-4 years AT LEAST.

Have you ever worked in an unstable toxic environment? Sorry for all the questions, I'm just curious to learn more.
I'm in Chicago. I have good work life/balance now, but didn't in the past. I worked unreasonable hours at the big 4 & then worked many weekends and late nights in my SEC reporting roles which helped progress my career and salary. It also gave me a niche specialty (SEC reporting, technical accounting) that I could go back to if FP&A roles don't work out. I have a kid now so not interested in working nights and weekends any more. I don't quite understand why anyone would do that with kids at home.

In my opinion, anyone telling you that you need to stay in the same role for 3-4 years at a minimum doesn't have your best interest in mind. Especially at the beginning of your career. In general, people move roles slower in Corporate Accounting but it doesn't mean you need to. I would think the learning curve would flatten pretty quickly in standard corporate gl roles. You may also need to consider branching outside of corporate gl to keep moving forward, but only if you have the desire, personality for it, and ability to succeed in roles outside of accounting.

In terms of ultimate salary desired, I stopped setting salary goals once I hit 100K. Whether I make 120K, 150K, or 200K working for someone else, the view is still the same & the impact to my lifestyle would be minimal. It doesn't mean I won't keep pushing for more money, but I won't do it at all costs & my focus on making real money will come from efforts separate than corporate america.

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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by abuss368 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:15 am

JEC wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:46 am
Your intermediate growth potential isn't quite as high now that you've left public.
Not sure I agree with that. Once you have built and acquired the technical knowledge one should be able to move into corporate and up.
John C. Bogle: Two Fund Portfolio - Total Stock & Total Bond - “Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by abuss368 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:20 am

billlumber1981 wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 8:52 am
Hi all,

Are there any accountants on this forum? I am a CPA in the Atlanta area and am curious what the salary growth looks like for this career/how I am doing in my growth. Below is my growth over the past 7 years since I have been out of school:

Year 1 - Public Accounting - Audit @ Regional Firm - 51k (Staff)
Year 2 - Public Accounting - Audit @ Regional Firm - 54k (Staff)
Year 3 - Corporate GL Accounting - 65k +5% bonus (Senior)
Year 4 - Corporate GL Accounting - 67k + 5% bonus (Senior)
Year 5 - Corporate GL Accounting - 78k + 10% bonus (Senior)
Year 6 - Corporate GL Accounting - 80k + 10% bonus (Senior)
Year 7 - Corporate GL Accounting - 91k + 10% bonus (Manager) - different company.
Now I'm at 93k + 10% bonus. Hours in corporate are much better than public - 40 hours/week with plenty of downtime. Good work/life balance. Work from home 1 day per week.

Any other CPAs care to comment on my career growth? Am I on the right track? My goal is to be a controller and ideally make 120k + bonus. Is this possible in this profession?
Welcome to the forum!

I am a CPA and spent the first decade in corporate with very good experience between companies. I then "put in" almost 15 years of public accounting at a regional firm. I was on a shareholder course with probably a year or two to go. Had all the meetings with shareholders and understood the path ahead. I left a year ago and took a position as a Controller in a very nice technology company. I realized that I no longer wanted that life and commitment with tax seasons, tax projection season, clients across the country, a lot of travel, and ultimately who would buy my equity out.

Public accounting is great from an experience and skill set level. I would never have acquired the skills if I did not put in the investment of time. However I realized long ago that you will stop before the work stops.

Corporate offers better benefits and opportunity in my opinion. There are not a lot of firms (huge amount of small firms) where you have opportunity. Most shareholders hold on for obvious reasons. Corporate offers a lot of opportunity and there are thousands of companies and positions.
John C. Bogle: Two Fund Portfolio - Total Stock & Total Bond - “Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

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abuss368
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by abuss368 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:22 am

Pacman wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:59 am
In terms of ultimate salary desired, I stopped setting salary goals once I hit 100K. Whether I make 120K, 150K, or 200K working for someone else, the view is still the same & the impact to my lifestyle would be minimal. It doesn't mean I won't keep pushing for more money, but I won't do it at all costs & my focus on making real money will come from efforts separate than corporate america.
Very well said and totally agree. Many people hit a point in life (we did) where the annual adjustments (and they happen each year) just hit the bank or pay down debt. Nothing wrong with that it is just minimal to no impact on lifestyle. Even if salary adjusts only for inflation one should be ok for retirement if disciplined.
John C. Bogle: Two Fund Portfolio - Total Stock & Total Bond - “Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

mak1277
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by mak1277 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:40 am

To answer the original question, yes, $120+bonus is and should be fairly easily achievable with your background. I'm at a Fortune 500 company and pretty much every accounting director, internal audit director, assistant controller, etc. are well above that amount.

Blitz
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by Blitz » Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:07 am

CPA in the ATL - public accounting:

Big4 yrs 1-4.5 not including bonuses and other comp:

1- $55,000
2- $64,000
3- $74,500
4- $94,500
5 - $47,250 - no change in annual salary; left after 1/2 of the year
5- $125,000 annual - local firm.

Better work/life balance. I do miss the high performing environment a big 4 offers, but I have more time for fitness and family - something money can’t buy.

wandering_aimlessly
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by wandering_aimlessly » Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:13 am

While not a CPA I have been a divisional CFO for manufacturers for the last 13 years (recently moving "out" of finance toward M&A) and have hired plenty of CPAs. Prior to divisional CFO roles I had a number of finance jobs of increasing responsibility in large manufacturers after obtaining an MBA - so I'll focus on the future piece, others can comment on your past. I am also in the Southeast US - so always remember to keep cost of living in perspective when you compare salaries. Looks like your progression is fine, I'll comment on how I look at my organizations and you can absorb or ignore as desired.
You mentioned wanting to be Controller so I'll start there - The salary you mentioned is consistent with many of my controllers in our $100M-$200M revenue per year businesses (bonus being 10-15%). A level up (a $1B-$2B division of a medium to large size multinational) my Controllers have made about $175k-$200k, 20-25% annual bonus and 10-15% in a long term (equity type) bonus - and the vast majority of these positions are in low cost regions/smaller cities (no one manufactures in Manhattan - of course some would say they need to be compensated to be in our locations anyway). For reference the divisional CFO type roll would pay about twice the controllers - distributed toward the long term bonus piece, I'll talk a little about the skill differences in a later section. I probably start to look at business controllers at about 10-12 years experience and divisional at 15-20+ (depending on the experience type). Corporate controllers of large multinationals are well above this but as with all exec positions the requirements can be very different by company - so will leave those out of the conversation. That covers a pretty vanilla progression on the Controllers side...of course the accounting and control experience can be parlayed into a number of other company offshoots (internal audit probably being most common - but I have seen CPAs transition into M&A or even expand into tax).
As that last line suggests being a finance professional does open some other options so career path selection is important as salary (and to personal interests). I have always looked at corporate (manufacturing type operations) finance to have three major pillars: 1. Accounting and Control - these are the CPAs and are those I was talking most about above 2. Cost accounting - these can be a subset of 1 but generally have extensive experience in costing and systems (which has become more rare with less US manufacturing in recent decades). There is an equivalent in services and engineering type businesses (Of which I have had a few) and this person focuses on understanding the costs of that particular business - these jobs tend to be less system knowledge critical and more contract knowledge driven. and 3. FP&A - these folks are generally tied closest to the individual businesses as they do forecasts and planning. In some cases the Controller will do FP&A type tasks - though I definitely believe these are different skill sets. FP&A positions are often the hardest to centralize as they need that connection to the business. FP&A is probably the skill set looked at hardest for divisional CFO type jobs like my recent ones. Of course there is the corp CFO position but in public companies (and to a lesser extent private) these have tended to move to investment focused individuals (investor relations types or wall street bank types) increasingly over the last decades - CPAs following this route are either smaller companies or have really shifted their focus away from CPA activities over the course of their career.
Another area - you mention work life balance...this is a tough one in finance. While I have always tried to balance this for my folks there are certain times (monthly close for accounting teams, forecasting periods for FP&A teams) where the hours are just going to be long (I can't remember the last time July 4th was really a holiday for my folks - all my companies have reported quarterly). Ultimately this is really driven by your boss and culture...make sure to ask other finance employees about their hours before you take a position - it can vary significantly within the same business just because the boss is a work-a-holic and has difficulty adjusting to others not being.
One other thought - throughout my career the big salary increases have been from changing companies - it appears you have seen this to some extent as well...being able to shoot the gap between leveraging what you have changing jobs and not appearing greedy is an art. If you stay in the corporate world remember there are some things that may sound small that take an act of god to get (for instance in some companies giving an extra week of vacation can bring you out of alignment with the rest of the company and is impossible to grant - while in others these are straightforward) try to get a feel for what the items are that you want that they can grant and focus on those - arguing for impossibilities will get you a reputation.
Well I have rambled on long enough - hope some part of this helps...Good luck for a successful career

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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by GeMoney » Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:37 am

I think you're on track. Just keep learning and experiencing more (even if you have to do more work) and be able to show that you have achievements and not just be a processor (i.e. don't just close the books). Regarding salaries it depends on the size of the organization and whether or not it's a publicly traded company or not. In California, I've seen VP of Finance/Controllers make $275k in publicly traded companies whereas Controllers in smaller private companies make $175k or less.

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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:41 am

GeMoney wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:37 am
I think you're on track. Just keep learning and experiencing more (even if you have to do more work) and be able to show that you have achievements and not just be a processor (i.e. don't just close the books). Regarding salaries it depends on the size of the organization and whether or not it's a publicly traded company or not. In California, I've seen VP of Finance/Controllers make $275k in publicly traded companies whereas Controllers in smaller private companies make $175k or less.
As the OP rises up the chain of responsibility, he can expect his time commitment to rise as well. He will be working more than 40 hours a week, not always, but on more than a few occasions.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

Thegame14
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by Thegame14 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:09 pm

billlumber1981 wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 8:52 am
Hi all,

Are there any accountants on this forum? I am a CPA in the Atlanta area and am curious what the salary growth looks like for this career/how I am doing in my growth. Below is my growth over the past 7 years since I have been out of school:

Year 1 - Public Accounting - Audit @ Regional Firm - 51k (Staff)
Year 2 - Public Accounting - Audit @ Regional Firm - 54k (Staff)
Year 3 - Corporate GL Accounting - 65k +5% bonus (Senior)
Year 4 - Corporate GL Accounting - 67k + 5% bonus (Senior)
Year 5 - Corporate GL Accounting - 78k + 10% bonus (Senior)
Year 6 - Corporate GL Accounting - 80k + 10% bonus (Senior)
Year 7 - Corporate GL Accounting - 91k + 10% bonus (Manager) - different company.
Now I'm at 93k + 10% bonus. Hours in corporate are much better than public - 40 hours/week with plenty of downtime. Good work/life balance. Work from home 1 day per week.

Any other CPAs care to comment on my career growth? Am I on the right track? My goal is to be a controller and ideally make 120k + bonus. Is this possible in this profession?
I think that is good progression, I started in public making $40K plus OT, so about $50K, then corporate making $60 as senior acct for about 4 years, then $75 as supervisor acct for 2 years, 80K for acct manager for about 6 years, now I have 18 years exp I am controller, but I am underpaid at $101K 5% bonus. so you are ahead of my making similar salary with 12 less years exp. What part of the country? I am NJ so HCOL too.

mbnc
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by mbnc » Fri Sep 13, 2019 2:13 pm

I think you're doing fine - better than I am. I spent about four years at the Charlotte office of a national firm, where I audited mostly real estate clients. I had a very similar pay progression.

Then I moved back home to Raleigh, took a wrong turn out of public, and got stuck in a dead-end financial analyst job. It eventually morphed into a role where I spent most of my time inspecting apartments and auditing tenant files for compliance. Obviously, that was not at all what I signed up for. I got modest annual raises, but the experience was mostly worthless for an accounting career. I waited too long to start searching for something else, got pigeonholed, and it took forever to get out. My personal life improved in that time, but those were lost years for earnings growth.

Now I'm about a year and a half into a senior staff GL role in industry. I'm back on the right path, so I basically think of myself as 5-6 years into an accounting career. Your earnings at that point are pretty comparable to where I'm at right now. I'm just now starting to get calls from recruiters about controller positions (still in Raleigh). Those start at around $90k-100k at smaller private companies, but I'm not inclined to move right now. My wife is due to give birth to our second in January, so I hesitate to sign up for a higher level of responsibility at a time when a newborn is entering our lives. Besides, I'm pretty content with my current employer, but it's nice to be in demand again.

To make a long story short, it seems from my perspective that you're on track and your goal is certainly achievable, especially in a bustling place like Atlanta. You'll be OK.

dbthegeneral
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by dbthegeneral » Fri Sep 13, 2019 3:15 pm

i think your goal should be easily attainable and likely as well. I have been in public for 3 years now and have found tremendous growth in public at the moment with my firm and the type of work i am doing. My firm is midsize in the bay area. Below are my details for reference.

Start jan 2 year 1 - 60k
August 1st year 1 - 66k
August 1st year 2 - 72k
August 1st year 3 - 90k

I have one CPA test to finish this fall and will go through busy season after. Im thinking of waiting until august for another raise and see where that puts me and could potentially see what is outside of my firm - controller opportunities/accounting manager etc.

With 7 years of experience you can be a controller no problem, and definitely make the money that you want. dont settle for something just because, look for the right opportunity.

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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by abuss368 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 3:34 pm

wandering_aimlessly wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:13 am
While not a CPA I have been a divisional CFO for manufacturers for the last 13 years (recently moving "out" of finance toward M&A) and have hired plenty of CPAs. Prior to divisional CFO roles I had a number of finance jobs of increasing responsibility in large manufacturers after obtaining an MBA - so I'll focus on the future piece, others can comment on your past. I am also in the Southeast US - so always remember to keep cost of living in perspective when you compare salaries. Looks like your progression is fine, I'll comment on how I look at my organizations and you can absorb or ignore as desired.
You mentioned wanting to be Controller so I'll start there - The salary you mentioned is consistent with many of my controllers in our $100M-$200M revenue per year businesses (bonus being 10-15%). A level up (a $1B-$2B division of a medium to large size multinational) my Controllers have made about $175k-$200k, 20-25% annual bonus and 10-15% in a long term (equity type) bonus - and the vast majority of these positions are in low cost regions/smaller cities (no one manufactures in Manhattan - of course some would say they need to be compensated to be in our locations anyway). For reference the divisional CFO type roll would pay about twice the controllers - distributed toward the long term bonus piece, I'll talk a little about the skill differences in a later section. I probably start to look at business controllers at about 10-12 years experience and divisional at 15-20+ (depending on the experience type). Corporate controllers of large multinationals are well above this but as with all exec positions the requirements can be very different by company - so will leave those out of the conversation. That covers a pretty vanilla progression on the Controllers side...of course the accounting and control experience can be parlayed into a number of other company offshoots (internal audit probably being most common - but I have seen CPAs transition into M&A or even expand into tax).
As that last line suggests being a finance professional does open some other options so career path selection is important as salary (and to personal interests). I have always looked at corporate (manufacturing type operations) finance to have three major pillars: 1. Accounting and Control - these are the CPAs and are those I was talking most about above 2. Cost accounting - these can be a subset of 1 but generally have extensive experience in costing and systems (which has become more rare with less US manufacturing in recent decades). There is an equivalent in services and engineering type businesses (Of which I have had a few) and this person focuses on understanding the costs of that particular business - these jobs tend to be less system knowledge critical and more contract knowledge driven. and 3. FP&A - these folks are generally tied closest to the individual businesses as they do forecasts and planning. In some cases the Controller will do FP&A type tasks - though I definitely believe these are different skill sets. FP&A positions are often the hardest to centralize as they need that connection to the business. FP&A is probably the skill set looked at hardest for divisional CFO type jobs like my recent ones. Of course there is the corp CFO position but in public companies (and to a lesser extent private) these have tended to move to investment focused individuals (investor relations types or wall street bank types) increasingly over the last decades - CPAs following this route are either smaller companies or have really shifted their focus away from CPA activities over the course of their career.
Another area - you mention work life balance...this is a tough one in finance. While I have always tried to balance this for my folks there are certain times (monthly close for accounting teams, forecasting periods for FP&A teams) where the hours are just going to be long (I can't remember the last time July 4th was really a holiday for my folks - all my companies have reported quarterly). Ultimately this is really driven by your boss and culture...make sure to ask other finance employees about their hours before you take a position - it can vary significantly within the same business just because the boss is a work-a-holic and has difficulty adjusting to others not being.
One other thought - throughout my career the big salary increases have been from changing companies - it appears you have seen this to some extent as well...being able to shoot the gap between leveraging what you have changing jobs and not appearing greedy is an art. If you stay in the corporate world remember there are some things that may sound small that take an act of god to get (for instance in some companies giving an extra week of vacation can bring you out of alignment with the rest of the company and is impossible to grant - while in others these are straightforward) try to get a feel for what the items are that you want that they can grant and focus on those - arguing for impossibilities will get you a reputation.
Well I have rambled on long enough - hope some part of this helps...Good luck for a successful career
Nice perspective and overview of corporate finance life.

Thank you for sharing.
John C. Bogle: Two Fund Portfolio - Total Stock & Total Bond - “Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by abuss368 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 3:36 pm

Thegame14 wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:09 pm
I think that is good progression, I started in public making $40K plus OT, so about $50K, then corporate making $60 as senior acct for about 4 years, then $75 as supervisor acct for 2 years, 80K for acct manager for about 6 years, now I have 18 years exp I am controller, but I am underpaid at $101K 5% bonus. so you are ahead of my making similar salary with 12 less years exp. What part of the country? I am NJ so HCOL too.
For New Jersey I would expect that to be much higher. What part of New Jersey? North or South near NYC? Have you looked at any other opportunities?
John C. Bogle: Two Fund Portfolio - Total Stock & Total Bond - “Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by abuss368 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 3:37 pm

mbnc wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 2:13 pm
I think you're doing fine - better than I am. I spent about four years at the Charlotte office of a national firm, where I audited mostly real estate clients. I had a very similar pay progression.

Then I moved back home to Raleigh, took a wrong turn out of public, and got stuck in a dead-end financial analyst job. It eventually morphed into a role where I spent most of my time inspecting apartments and auditing tenant files for compliance. Obviously, that was not at all what I signed up for. I got modest annual raises, but the experience was mostly worthless for an accounting career. I waited too long to start searching for something else, got pigeonholed, and it took forever to get out. My personal life improved in that time, but those were lost years for earnings growth.

Now I'm about a year and a half into a senior staff GL role in industry. I'm back on the right path, so I basically think of myself as 5-6 years into an accounting career. Your earnings at that point are pretty comparable to where I'm at right now. I'm just now starting to get calls from recruiters about controller positions (still in Raleigh). Those start at around $90k-100k at smaller private companies, but I'm not inclined to move right now. My wife is due to give birth to our second in January, so I hesitate to sign up for a higher level of responsibility at a time when a newborn is entering our lives. Besides, I'm pretty content with my current employer, but it's nice to be in demand again.

To make a long story short, it seems from my perspective that you're on track and your goal is certainly achievable, especially in a bustling place like Atlanta. You'll be OK.
Have to consider $100,000 in south is not the same as $100,000 in northeast.
John C. Bogle: Two Fund Portfolio - Total Stock & Total Bond - “Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

Thegame14
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by Thegame14 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 3:44 pm

abuss368 wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 3:36 pm
Thegame14 wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:09 pm
I think that is good progression, I started in public making $40K plus OT, so about $50K, then corporate making $60 as senior acct for about 4 years, then $75 as supervisor acct for 2 years, 80K for acct manager for about 6 years, now I have 18 years exp I am controller, but I am underpaid at $101K 5% bonus. so you are ahead of my making similar salary with 12 less years exp. What part of the country? I am NJ so HCOL too.
For New Jersey I would expect that to be much higher. What part of New Jersey? North or South near NYC? Have you looked at any other opportunities?
North NJ 15-20 miles outside NYC. I could make a lot more working in NYC or working for firms that kill you with hours, but I refuse to work tons of overtime or have a commute over an hour. I have two small kids at home and me spending time with them is the most valuable thing.... Yes I am looking for a new job, had two phone interviews last week for a job, but they passed, said that my last few jobs have been in smaller companies, they want someone with recent "big corporate" experience, which is complete BS, but it is their call to make.

I also have my CPA license, BS in Accounting and MBA in finance.... I thought Id be making about $150K with 15-20% bonus by now, but that hasn't happened, I got laid off twice during the recession working for startups..... so that hurt my progression.

dacalo
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by dacalo » Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:07 pm

You are doing fine.

Here is my experience in a Big 4 (be mindful this is in CA where it is VHCOL) excluding bonuses and benefits:

Staff 1 - 45k
Staff 2 - 50k
Senior 1 - 70k
Senior 2 - 74k
Senior 3 - 79k
Manager 1 - 95k
Industry Accounting Manager - 120k
Technical Accounting Manager/Reporting - 145k

I went back and forth between industry and public a couple of times, so above is abbreviated version.

HomeStretch
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by HomeStretch » Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:22 pm

You didn’t include the size of your company, size of the accounting group, where you are in the hierarchy and whether the company is public.

Your salary growth is good. To grow your career (and compensation) to the Controller level (and above), you will need to grow your skill set and experience. You may need to seek positions outside of your current employer to do so.

Develop a career game plan. You have a couple years of audit experience and 5 years of G/L experience (including recently moving to manager role) which is good. But you need to gain experience in the analytical and other technical areas - financial planning and analysis, SEC reporting, M&A, exposure to taxes/IT/investor relations/internal audit, etc. You also need to have excellent written & verbal skills, great interpersonal skills and leadership abilities.

dsmil
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by dsmil » Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:44 pm

Looks like a nice career so far. I'm 9 years in, with the first 3 being public, and am at $130k as assistant controller, but that's in the D.C. area. I think you are doing quite well and seem to have nice work/life balance. Keep it up!

JBTX
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by JBTX » Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:48 pm

billlumber1981 wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 8:52 am
Hi all,

Are there any accountants on this forum? I am a CPA in the Atlanta area and am curious what the salary growth looks like for this career/how I am doing in my growth. Below is my growth over the past 7 years since I have been out of school:

Year 1 - Public Accounting - Audit @ Regional Firm - 51k (Staff)
Year 2 - Public Accounting - Audit @ Regional Firm - 54k (Staff)
Year 3 - Corporate GL Accounting - 65k +5% bonus (Senior)
Year 4 - Corporate GL Accounting - 67k + 5% bonus (Senior)
Year 5 - Corporate GL Accounting - 78k + 10% bonus (Senior)
Year 6 - Corporate GL Accounting - 80k + 10% bonus (Senior)
Year 7 - Corporate GL Accounting - 91k + 10% bonus (Manager) - different company.
Now I'm at 93k + 10% bonus. Hours in corporate are much better than public - 40 hours/week with plenty of downtime. Good work/life balance. Work from home 1 day per week.

Any other CPAs care to comment on my career growth? Am I on the right track? My goal is to be a controller and ideally make 120k + bonus. Is this possible in this profession?
I see "controllers" anywhere from $100k to over $200k, depending on the size of the company and complexity of the job. I would say majority are in the $120k to $150k+ range for a major medium cost of living area like DFW or Atlanta, but I've seen higher even in some medium size companies, for the controller who runs a full accounting department and reports to the CFO.

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abuss368
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by abuss368 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:17 pm

JBTX wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:48 pm
I see "controllers" anywhere from $100k to over $200k, depending on the size of the company and complexity of the job. I would say majority are in the $120k to $150k+ range for a major medium cost of living area like DFW or Atlanta, but I've seen higher even in some medium size companies, for the controller who runs a full accounting department and reports to the CFO.
That is reasonable. What is nice about that level of compensation compared to public accounting is in public you are giving a material amount right back to the firm in terms of the multi year buy in. I hate to consider such transaction as "equity". No dividends, no physical assets. Just a service.
John C. Bogle: Two Fund Portfolio - Total Stock & Total Bond - “Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

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abuss368
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by abuss368 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:17 pm

dsmil wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:44 pm
Looks like a nice career so far. I'm 9 years in, with the first 3 being public, and am at $130k as assistant controller, but that's in the D.C. area. I think you are doing quite well and seem to have nice work/life balance. Keep it up!
Agree.
John C. Bogle: Two Fund Portfolio - Total Stock & Total Bond - “Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

Momus
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by Momus » Sat Sep 14, 2019 2:58 am

My friend made director at Amex as accountant. He chose a different path, he is now director of data science with accounting degree, about 8 yrs into the career.

blastoff
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by blastoff » Sat Sep 14, 2019 7:23 am

This is starting post-undergrad?

JBTX
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by JBTX » Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:08 am

abuss368 wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:17 pm
JBTX wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:48 pm
I see "controllers" anywhere from $100k to over $200k, depending on the size of the company and complexity of the job. I would say majority are in the $120k to $150k+ range for a major medium cost of living area like DFW or Atlanta, but I've seen higher even in some medium size companies, for the controller who runs a full accounting department and reports to the CFO.
That is reasonable. What is nice about that level of compensation compared to public accounting is in public you are giving a material amount right back to the firm in terms of the multi year buy in. I hate to consider such transaction as "equity". No dividends, no physical assets. Just a service.

I know of controllers in a mid size company ranging from $120k to $160k, plus bonus. Had a friend in a former big company that was a mid level controller that was around $200k, and that person's boss was a higher level controller at presumably more than that. But at that level you are managing dozens or maybe hundreds of people. At another mid-size company knew a controller that was likely pulling at least $175k, maybe $200k, managing a couple of dozen accountants.

When I was job searching years ago I found most controller opportunities were in the $120k to $140k range, and usually involved managing a few to a half dozen people. Occasionally you'd find positions for very small companies less than that, but I know of a very small company controller who pulls about $170k- probably the exception.

After a certain point in corporate America accountants are like anything else. How far you rise and how much you make depends on your ability to advance into management. For people that don't supervise employees you probably max out at $120k to $130k, but there are exceptions if you have a very specific skill set.

zonacat
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by zonacat » Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:34 am

Fellow accountant here in Phoenix, AZ, CPA, big 4 audit, worked at 3 different companies now in various roles. Was in big 4 for 4.5 years remainder of my experience is industry.

I am 35 and got promoted to Corporate Controller this year. Started career at $48k in audit and base salary now $165k plus 15% bonus target.

Helps to move around companies as well as working in multiple functional areas - i have done internal audit, FP&A, tax, treasury and accounting.

Work/life balance still good but has gotten much busier in new role as Corporate Controller.

CMD1
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by CMD1 » Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:33 pm

You will get to the $120k goal, the question is how quickly you want to get there.

I am not at your level but am a CPA and things started going well for me when I landed at a F500 company in Atlanta as a Sr Accountant at $70k. In the almost 6 years since then I have had 5 jobs spread among 2 F500 companies (both with great cultures) and moved into Finance. Now a Sr. Financial Analyst with a fair amount of responsibility, and at $97k base in a high cost of living west coast city. My pay grade actually maxes out above $120k. Then there is how much you value work/life balance. I can go down the street to a F500 company and make $115k but my family life will suffer.

I think the question should be why controller? And where? There is a big difference being a controller at a small firm, medium firm or large public firm. At many large public companies a controller will make much more then $120k. Take the roles that will help you get where you want, and don't be afraid of lateral moves. I use to think moving roles too much was a negative, but have found that in the right culture its a huge plus and your viewed as stale if you stay in a role too long.

Cuzz35
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by Cuzz35 » Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:37 pm

I'm also in Atlanta finishing up year 7 of my career in public accounting on the tax side. Been at the same firm my entire career. Firm size is over 300 people and around $75 million annual revenue.

I would say you are doing a good job. My path is probably been quicker than most but I also didn't start until I was 26, 33 now. Bonuses averaged around 10%.

$52 initial
$53.5k after 6 months,
$60k 1.5 years promoted to senior
$74k 2.5 year promoted to supervisor
$85k 3.5 years promoted to manager
$90k mid year raise
$98k 4.5 years
$115k 5.5 years
$128k 6.5 years promoted to senior manager,

Hoosier CPA
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by Hoosier CPA » Tue May 05, 2020 7:53 pm

Came across this older thread by searching. Lots of great info here!

I'm about 17 years into my career and am a Director on Accounting. I started around 45K and have essentially tripled that. Started in Big 4 for 5 years, then did consulting at a very small place for about 7 (stayed far too long - kind of a career limiting move, but all 3 of my kids were born during this time). Following that I worked in corporate finance for a US wing of a multinational company and now I'm doing accounting work for very large hospital network. My current company is the best company I've worked for in terms of culture, but the job is also the most straight-accounting work I've ever done so it can be monotonous. I try to keep learning by finding projects and working on management skills. My next goal is to work as an outsourced controller or CFO for a set of clients. For now I'm enjoying the work/life balance and culture my current organization provides.

Looking back, I've learned the most from mistakes I've made but if I did it over, I would have been much more aggressive at changing jobs when I hit the point where the learning curve starts to flatten. In my experience, once I left the Big 4, the best learning opportunities, interesting challenges and salary increases have come from changing jobs.

Again, very interesting to read all the comments and info in this thread.

dacalo
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by dacalo » Tue May 05, 2020 8:06 pm

I think you are doing fine considering cost of living. I started at a regional accounting firm (auditing banks), but decided to join a Big 4 firm with a lot more interesting clients (tech and biotech). It was a great opportunity as I learned a ton but it was stressful and long hours. Looking back, glad got that out of the way before our first kid was born.

I think some of the biggest opportunities come when you move to another company. I would learn as much as you can in your current position. Always keep your options open when you see positions you may be interested in.

For all aspiring accountants, I think the best path is to join a Big 4, whether that means starting from regional first and transferring. Of course there will be exceptions, but I think generally this is the most opportunistic.

Here is my approximate earnings to give you some perspective (I did skip some years but it gives a general trend):

Regional accounting firm - 50k
Big 4 - $70k (moved to VHCOL area)
Big 4 - $85K
Corporate - $125k
Small company pre-IPO - $150k

davy88
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Re: Accountant Salary Growth

Post by davy88 » Tue May 05, 2020 11:21 pm

Looks pretty good to me. My salary growth as a CPA

Starting $48k in public
1/2 year raise $50k
1.5 years $53k
2.5 years $57k (made senior, added bonus)
3.5 years left public for corporate senior accountant role in higher COLA, $75k plus bonus. Wasn't qualified for that job, they terminated me with surprisingly nice severance after 6 months where I received very little training and was generally unhappy.
4 years restarted in public for $68k at a smaller firm with low hours compared to most, much smaller bonus. At this point my wife was the breadwinner and I was looking for balance more than salary.
5 years $72k

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