CPA salary insights for 2023

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CPAs and accountants are experts at examining financial records and identifying opportunities and risks for companies or individuals. So, it makes sense to weigh the pros and cons of their career options in this field. Taking the CPA Exam and pursuing CPA licensure is a significant investment in your time and resources, so it’s natural to want to know what the average CPA salary is. While you might already enjoy the accounting profession, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to understand if a CPA salary will align with your long-term personal and professional goals.

What determines CPA average salary?

 As of October 2023, the average CPA salary in the US is $96,752¹. Arriving at this number actually requires looking more deeply into the impact that CPA licensure has on your career prospects. Let’s review. 

Experience level 

Generally speaking, more experience begets more seniority, which boosts your chances of increasing your salary. A Robert Half hiring trends report shows the following: 

  • Entry-level: $49,000 - $74,750 
  • Mid-career: $57,750 - $93,250 
  • Manager: $92,750 - $131,000 
  • Senior Manager/Director: $121,500 - $192,000 

Not every CPA will follow--or even want--this professional trajectory, and that’s OK! The key is to find a balance between your salary goals and career fulfillment. 

How much does a CPA make in the U.S.?

 While the average CPA salary in the U.S. is over $96,000 per year, where you live also impacts what you can expect to make as a CPA. In 2023, the five top-paying states² for CPAs are: 

  1. Washington DC: $110,140 per year 
  2. New York: $101,440 
  3. New Jersey: $96,260 
  4. Massachusetts: $88,830 
  5. California: $88,130 

But to understand how far your salary will go in each state, you’ll also need to consider the cost of living in each. For example, CPAs make the most in DC at $110,140 per year, but they also need to include $78,809 for cost of living³. What’s left is a disposable income of $31,331. 

Meanwhile, CPAs in Massachusetts earn $88,830--$21,000 less than in DC--but benefit from greater affordability than in DC. This gives CPAs in Massachusetts roughly $3,600 more disposable income than CPAs living in DC. 

Firms in major cities can offer more attractive compensation packages to recruit top talent, but it usually comes with a higher cost of living. Despite increased competition, you might find that you thrive working at a competitive firm, and that living in a major metro offers you more opportunities to develop your expertise and aligns with the lifestyle you want. 


Certain niches within the CPA profession can command even higher average salaries, as reported in a 2024 hiring trends survey⁴ and seen below. To increase your CPA average salary, consider developing skills in the following areas. 

  • Audit & Assurance: Audit and assurance go hand-in-hand to verify and build trust in the accuracy of their audits and financial statements. 
    • Senior auditors and assurance services professionals: $68,750
    • Senior managers and directors: $140,000 
  • Tax: What raises the bar for corporate tax CPAs is their strategic work in helping organizations avoid risk. 
    • Senior corporate tax accountant: almost $99,000 
    • Tax Directors: $166,000 
  • Financial Reporting: Financial and SEC reporting are critical to businesses because they’re used to report earnings and performance to Wall Street. 
    • Senior Financial Reporting Accountant: $93,750 
    • Director of SEC Financial Reporting: $157,000 

Industry & employer type 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest-paying industries for accountants and auditors are: 

  1. Finance and insurance 
  2. Management of companies and enterprises 
  3. Accounting, tax prep, bookkeeping, payroll services 
  4. Government 

Pay will vary, even within these lucrative industries. Larger, more established firms--like a Big 4 consultancy--typically have the budget to offer a more attractive compensation package than smaller companies competing for the same candidates. 

While boutique firms or self-employment may not pay as much as the bigger organizations, you’d be more involved in all parts of the business, which could be its own unique growth experience. 

CPA salary vs non-CPA salary 

Earning potential is also a critical consideration when deciding if the CPA path is right for you. On average, a CPA’s salary is higher than a non-CPA accountant. More specifically, the CPA average salary range⁵ is between $60,874 and $150,612, while the non-CPA average salary range⁶ is between $47,138 and $82,167.

However, the wage gap between CPAs and non-CPAs widens substantially as those in each path gain experience and seniority. At the high ends of both salary ranges, CPAs out-earn non-CPAs by over $68,000. The difference alone is higher than the national average salary of $59,428⁷ in 2023. 

Benefits beyond salary 

While we're focusing primarily on the average CPA salary, there is more to a career than money. Let's take a look at other benefits beyond the earning power that comes with a CPA license. 


One of the reasons behind this salary difference stems from the additional rigor and standards required of CPAs to work in the field. Passing the CPA Exam and adhering to industry, state board and ethical standards throughout your career convey status and credibility to employers, which are baked into salaries that are typically 10 to 15 percent higher than non-CPA salaries. 

Career fast track 

CPA licensure also shows you have the skills and knowledge to practice in private and public accounting, which gives you a leg up when it comes to negotiating compensation or opportunities. In fact, the top two skills that increase salaries for accountants--financial reporting and financial modeling--are skills taught in CPA training. 

That versatility means you’re exposed to a bigger variety of clients, industries and work, which gives you more breadth and depth of expertise and experience and positions you for mentorship, management and leadership roles down the line. Whatever you invest in your CPA training, you’ll likely earn back through salary, earning potential and career options. 

High demand for CPAs

It's estimated that 75 percent of today’s CPAs will retire in next 15 years⁸. In 2021, that trend manifested into the lowest CPA pipeline the industry had seen in 13 years⁹, compelling 62 percent of hiring managers¹⁰ to prioritize recruiting finance and accounting professionals in the first half of 2023. As workforce globalization grows and economic volatility continues to disrupt performance, CPAs will be the ones to help companies navigate complex regulatory laws, compliance and risk. 

Start the road toward earning a CPA salary today

The CPA road isn’t an easy one, but it can reap long-term benefits for your career if you choose to walk through the doors that CPA licensure opens. Even if management and leadership aren’t the right fit for you, becoming a CPA will unlock myriad opportunities to sharpen your accounting prowess and keep things interesting in your career. 

Going for your CPA licensure is a big deal. Give our 14-day free trial of our CPA Exam Review a shot to see how Becker can support your professional ambitions. 




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